Recognition of same-sex unions in Asia

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Homosexuality laws in Asia
Same-sex sexual activity legal
  Marriage performed
  Foreign same-sex marriages recognized
  Other type of partnership
  Legal guardianships or unregistered cohabitation
(stripes: nonbinding certificates)
  No recognition of same-sex couples
  Restrictions on freedom of expression
Same-sex sexual activity illegal
  Not enforced
  Life imprisonment
  Death penalty

Legal status of same-sex unions

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

LGBT portal

Debate has occurred throughout Asia over proposals to legalize same-sex marriage as well as civil unions.

Following a Constitutional Court ruling and a subsequent legislative act, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide on 24 May 2019.[1] In addition, Israel recognises same-sex marriages validly performed abroad. A similar measure was introduced in Armenia by a ministerial decision, though there have been no actual cases as of 2019.[2]

Israel recognises unregistered cohabitation for same-sex couples.[3] Several cities in Cambodia provide same-sex couples with some limited rights and benefits, including hospital visitation rights.[4][5] Some cities in Japan issue certificates for same-sex couples, however they are entirely symbolic.[6][7][8] In Hong Kong, the same-sex partners of residents can receive spousal visas and spousal benefits.[9][10]

Current situation[edit]

National level[edit]

Status Country Legal since Country population
(Last Census count)
(1 country)
Taiwan Taiwan 2019 23,576,705
Subtotal 23,576,705
(0.5% of the Asian population)
Recognition of foreign marriage
(2 countries)
* Constitutional ban on domestic same-sex marriages
Armenia Armenia* 2017 2,969,800
Israel Israel 2006 8,910,800
Subtotal 11,880,600
(0.3% of the Asian population)
Unregistered cohabitation
(1 country)
Israel Israel 1994 8,910,800
Subtotal 8,910,800
(0.2% of the Asian population)
Total 35,457,305
(0.8% of the Asian population)
No recognition
(42 countries)
* same-sex sexual activity illegal
Afghanistan Afghanistan* 31,575,018
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 9,898,085
Bahrain Bahrain 1,496,300
Bangladesh Bangladesh* 165,159,000
Bhutan Bhutan* 727,145
Brunei Brunei* 422,678
China China 1,393,970,000
East Timor East Timor 1,261,407
India India 1,336,740,000
Indonesia Indonesia 265,015,300
Iran Iran* 81,773,300
Iraq Iraq 39,339,753
Japan Japan 126,490,000
Jordan Jordan 10,235,500
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 18,272,400
Kuwait Kuwait* 4,226,920
Laos Laos 6,961,210
Lebanon Lebanon 6,093,509
Malaysia Malaysia* 32,663,200
Maldives Maldives* 378,114
Mongolia Mongolia 3,225,080
Myanmar Myanmar* 53,862,731
Nepal Nepal 29,218,867
North Korea North Korea 25,610,672
Oman Oman* 4,633,752
Pakistan Pakistan* 201,938,000
Philippines Philippines 106,438,000
Qatar Qatar* 2,450,285
Russia Russia 146,877,088
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia* 33,413,660
Singapore Singapore* 5,612,253
South Korea South Korea 51,635,256
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka* 21,444,000
Syria Syria* 18,284,407
Tajikistan Tajikistan 8,931,000
Thailand Thailand 69,183,173
Turkey Turkey 80,810,525
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan* 5,851,466
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates* 9,541,615
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan* 32,653,900
Vietnam Vietnam 94,660,000
Yemen Yemen* 28,915,284
Subtotal 4,567,889,853
(98.7% of the Asian population)
Constitutional ban on marriage
(4 countries)
* foreign same-sex marriages recognised
Armenia Armenia* 2015 2,969,800
Cambodia Cambodia 1993 16,069,921
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan 2016 6,309,300
Georgia (country) Georgia 2018 3,729,600
Subtotal 29,078,621
(0.6% of the Asian population)
Total 4,596,968,474
(99.3% of the Asian population)

Partially-recognized and unrecognized states[edit]

Status Country Since State population
(Last estimate count)
No recognition
(3 states)
* same-sex sexual activity illegal
Abkhazia Abkhazia 242,862
State of Palestine Palestine*[nb 1] 4,780,978
South Ossetia South Ossetia 53,532
Subtotal 5,077,372
(0.1% of the Asian population)
Constitutional ban on marriage
(1 country)
Republic of Artsakh Artsakh 2006 150,932
Subtotal 150,932
(0.003% of the Asian population)
Total 5,228,304
(0.1% of the Asian population)

Future legislation and court challenges[edit]


China China: On 5 January 2016, a court in Changsha, southern Hunan Province, agreed to hear a lawsuit filed in December 2015 against the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Furong District. The lawsuit was filed by 26-year-old Sun Wenlin, who in June 2015 had been refused permission by the bureau to marry his 36-year-old partner, Hu Mingliang.[11] On 13 April 2016, with hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters outside, the Changsha court ruled against Sun, who said he would appeal.[12]

Hong Kong Hong Kong: In January 2019 the Hong Kong High Court agreed to hear a challenge to the city's refusal to recognise same-sex marriage. The legal challenges was mounted by a 21-year-old University of Hong Kong student, known as TF, and a 31-year-old activist, known as STK, who argued that the inability of same-sex couples to get married violated their right to equality under the city’s Bill of Rights and the Basic Law.[13] The judge in the case gave the applications license to be heard by the court, though suspended them to first hear another case.[13]

India India: India does not have a codified civil marriage code. A draft of a Uniform Civil Code that would legalise same-sex marriage was proposed in 2017.[14] There are also several same-sex marriage petitions pending in the courts.[15]

Japan Japan: In December 2018, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) announced it would introduce a bill to amend the Civil Code so as to allow same-sex marriage sometime in 2019.[16] On 3 June 2019, the bill was submitted by the CDP, the Japanese Communist Party and other parties. It seeks to adopt neutral language with the terms "party of marriage" being used instead of "husband" and "wife", while "father and mother" would be replaced by "parents".[17][18][19]

Nepal Nepal: On 17 November 2008, Nepal's Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage and recommended that the Parliament form a committee to examine the matter.[20] In October 2016, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare created a committee for the purpose of preparing a draft bill on the issue.[21]

Philippines Philippines: A petition to legalize same sex marriage, Falcis III v. Civil Registrar-General, was heard by the Supreme Court on 19 June 2018.[22]

South Korea South Korea: In July 2015, Kim Jho Kwang-soo and his partner, Kim Seung-Hwan, filed a lawsuit seeking legal status for their marriage, after their marriage registration form was rejected by local authorities in Seoul. On 25 May 2016, the Seoul Western District Court ruled against the couple and argued that without clear legislation a same-sex union cannot be recognized as a marriage.[23] The couple quickly filed an appeal against the district court ruling.[24] On 5 December 2016, an appeals court upheld the district court's ruling, finding that it had no legal flaws. The couple subsequently announced that they would bring their case to the Supreme Court.[25]

Non-marital partnership[edit]

Hong Kong Hong Kong: In June 2018, a Hong Kong lesbian known as "MK" filed a lawsuit against the Hong Kong Government for denying her the right to enter into a civil partnership with her female partner, arguing that her rights to privacy and equality had been violated, amounting to a breach of the Basic Law, the city’s mini constitution, and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. The High Court heard the case in a brief 30-minute preliminary hearing in August 2018.[26][27][28] The case was heard on 28 May 2019.[29][30][31]

Philippines Philippines: In October 2016, Speaker of the House of Representatives Pantaleon Alvarez announced he would file a bill to legalize civil unions for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. As of 25 October 2016, more than 150 lawmakers have signalled their support for the bill.[32] Alvarez introduced the bill on 10 October 2017.

Thailand Thailand: In 2017, the Government of Thailand responded favourably to a petition signed by 60,000 people calling for civil partnerships for same-sex couples. Pitikan Sithidej, the Director-General of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department at the Justice Ministry, confirmed he had received the petition and would do all he could to get it passed as soon as possible.[33] The Justice Ministry convened on 4 May 2018 to begin discussions on a draft civil partnership bill, titled the Same Sex Life Partnership Registration Bill. Under the proposal, same-sex couples would be able to register themselves as "life partners" and be granted several of the rights of marriage, including full adoption rights.[34][35] The bill was discussed in public hearings between November 12 and 16, and was expected to be presented to the cabinet by the end of the month.[36] On 25 December 2018, the Cabinet approved the bill, which grants same-sex couples several of the rights of marriage, including adoption of children. The bill will now be introduced in the parliament.[37][38]

Public opinion[edit]

  Indicates the country/territory has legalized same-sex marriage nationwide
  Indicates that the country has civil unions or registered partnerships
  Indicates that same-sex sexual activity is illegal
Opinion polls for same-sex marriage by country
Country Pollster Year For Against Neutral[a] Margin
of error
Armenia Armenia Pew Research Center 2015 3% 96% 1% ±3% [39][40]
 Cambodia TNS Cambodia 2015 55% 30% 15% - [41]
China China Ipsos 2015 29% 51% 20% - [42]
Georgia (country) Georgia Pew Research Center 2016 3% 95% 2% ±4% [39][40]
India India Mood of the Nation 2019 24% 62% 14% [43][44]
Israel Israel Hiddush 2019 55% 45%[45] - - [46]
 Japan NHK 2017 51% 41% 8% - [47]
 Kazakhstan Pew Research Center 2016 7% 89% 4% - [48][40]
Philippines Philippines SWS 2018 22% 61% 16% [49]
Russia Russia FOM 2019 7% 87% 6% - [50]
Singapore Singapore IPS 2019 27% 60% 13% - [51]
 South Korea Gallup Korea 2017 41% 52% 6.1% - [52]
Taiwan Taiwan Trend Survey and Research 2016 52% 43% 5% - [53]
Turkey Turkey Ipsos 2015 27% 44% 29% [42]
Thailand Thailand YouGov 2019 63% 11% 27% - [54]
 Vietnam iSEE 2014 34% 53% 13% - [55]
Opinion polls for same-sex marriage by dependent territory and sub-national entities
Country Pollster Year For Against Neutral[a] Margin
of error
 Hong Kong CCPL 2018 50% 33% 17% - [56]

In 2019, a survey by The Economist found that 45% of respondents in the Asia-Pacific region believed same-sex marriage is inevitable in the region, with 31% of respondents disagreeing. Also, three-quarters of those surveyed reported a more open climate for LGBT rights compared to three years ago. Of those reporting an improving climate for LGBT people, 38% cited a change in policies or laws, while 36% said coverage of LGBT issues in mainstream media was a major factor. The top reason cited for diminishing openness was anti-LGBT advocacy by religious institutions.[57][58]


  1. ^ Same-sex sexual activity legal in the West Bank, illegal in the Gaza Strip.
  1. ^ a b Also comprises: Don't know; No answer; Other; Refused.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Taiwan's high court paves the way for same-sex marriage, a first in Asia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  2. ^ "Same-sex marriages registered abroad are valid in Armenia".
  3. ^ Cohen v. Shushan, 212 So.3d 1113 (2017) ("Our decision upholds a fine — but very clear — distinction that has been set within Israel's marital law, one we must maintain out of respect to Israel's law-making authority. Because Ms. Shushan and the late Mr. Cohen's legal union was not entered into through any recognized religious authority, they were not married under Israeli law. Ms. Shushan, therefore, could not be a surviving spouse of Mr. Cohen").
  4. ^ Same-sex couples tie the knot in Cambodia in a stunning public ceremony, Gay Star News, 24 May 2018
  5. ^ Rainbow Community Kampuchea: What we do?
  6. ^ Williams, Joe (December 26, 2015). "Another Japanese city to recognise same-sex relationships". Pink News. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  7. ^ Masanori, Hiuchi (1 March 2016). "City in Mie Prefecture to recognize same-sex partnerships in April". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  8. ^ "3rd municipality in Japan starts issuing same-sex partnership papers". Japan Today. 3 April 2016.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Hong Kong's top court sides with gay civil servant in application for spousal benefit and tax assessment". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. 2019-06-06. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  10. ^ "Breakthrough for LGBT rights as Hong Kong to recognise same-sex partnerships in spousal visa applications". South China Morning Post. 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ Gay man sues for right to marry in China’s first same-sex marriage lawsuit South China Morning Post, 6 January 2016
  12. ^ "Chinese Court Rules Against Gay Couple Seeking To Get Married". The Two-Way. 13 April 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Two gay men mount first legal challenges to Hong Kong laws banning same-sex marriage, with court giving their applications green light to proceed". South China Morning Post. 3 January 2019.
  14. ^ "A new UCC for a new India? Progressive draft UCC allows for same-sex marriages – Catchnews". Catchnews. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  15. ^ Das, Shaswati (7 September 2018). "Historic verdict holds hope for same-sex marriages, adoption".
  16. ^ CDP to seek Civil Code revisions to recognize same-sex marriage, The Mainichi, 31 December 2018
  17. ^ Nobuhiro, Emi (3 June 2019). "Japan Opposition Parties Submit Same-Sex Marriage Bill". Bloomberg.
  18. ^ Milton, Josh (3 June 2019). "Japan opposition parties rally in bid to pass marriage equality". Gay Star News.
  19. ^ "Japan opposition parties submit same-sex marriage Bill". The Straits Times. 3 June 2019.
  20. ^ Nepal's Supreme Court OKs same-sex marriage
  21. ^ All set to get legal status
  22. ^ Ina Reformina (6 March 2018). "SC sets oral arguments on same-sex marriage". ABS-CBN.
  23. ^ "South Korean court rejects film director's same-sex marriage case". The Guardian. 25 May 2016.
  24. ^ Duffy, Nick (26 May 2016). "South Korea set for more court battles over same-sex marriage ban". Pink News.
  25. ^ S. Korean court rejects gay couple's appeal over same-sex marriage
  26. ^ "Woman takes unprecedented step to advance LGBT cause in Hong Kong and sues government over civil partnerships ban". South China Morning Post. 24 August 2018.
  27. ^ Sobel, Ariel (24 August 2018). "Queer Hong Kong Woman Sues for Civil Union Rights". The Advocate.
  28. ^ Power, Shannon (24 August 2018). "Woman sues Hong Kong government for not allowing same-sex civil partnerships". Gay Star News.
  29. ^ Lau, Chris (23 April 2019). "Judge in LGBT civil union legal challenge rejects bid by Hong Kong diocese and conservative groups to join litigation". South China Morning Post.
  30. ^ Milton, Josh (26 April 2019). "Hong Kong judge rules religion should not define what marriage is". Gay Star News.
  31. ^ Glauert, Rik (28 May 2019). "Hong Kong High Court hears landmark same-sex civil partnership case". Gay Star News.
  32. ^ "It’s civil union, not marriage"
  33. ^ Thailand to revive gay rights Bill
  34. ^ Thailand expected to introduce same-sex civil partnerships,, 27 April 2018
  35. ^ Thailand Could Actually Beat Taiwan to Legalizing Same-Sex Unions and Benefits
  36. ^ Braidwood, Ella (2018-11-06). "Thailand could be first country in Asia with same-sex unions". PinkNews.
  37. ^ Theparat, Chatrudee (25 December 2018). "Cabinet endorses civil partnership bill". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  38. ^ Sarrubba, Stefania (25 December 2018). "Thailand cabinet approves the first draft of same-sex civil union bill". Gay Star News. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  39. ^ a b "Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe" (PDF). Pew. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  40. ^ a b c "Religious belief and national belonging in Central and Eastern Europe - Appendix A: Methodology". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  41. ^ TNS Research Report on Opinions Attitudes and Behavior toward the LGBT Population in Cambodia
  42. ^ a b "Of 23 Countries Surveyed, Majority (65%) in 20 Countries Support Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Unions". Ipsos. March 29, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-06-03.
  43. ^ "Where is the love: 62 per cent Indians say same-sex marriages not accepted, finds Mood of the Nation poll". India Today. 25 January 2019.
  44. ^ Sengar, Shweta (2 February 2019). "Prejudice Before Love? 62 Per Cent Indians Still Don't Approve Same-Sex Marriage, Finds Survey". India Times.
  45. ^ Of which, 23% were in favor of some kind of civil unions
  46. ^ Einhorn, Alon (7 June 2019). "54% OF RELIGIOUS JEWS SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE, PARTNERSHIP". The Jerusalem Post.
  47. ^ "世論調査 価値観の変化は". NHK. May 2017.
  48. ^ "Being Christian in Western Europe" (PDF). Pew Research Center. p. 152. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  49. ^ "First Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: 61% of Pinoys oppose, and 22% support, a law that will allow the civil union of two men or two women". 29 June 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  50. ^ "Отношение к сексменьшинствам". ФОМ. June 2019.
  51. ^ Results were SSM is: always wrong (48.5%), almost always wrong (11.5%), only wrong sometimes (13.1%), not wrong most of the time (10.5%), not wrong at all (16.4%).
    "Religion, Morality and Conservatism in Singapore" (PDF). Institute of Policy Studies. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  52. ^ Jeong-Eun, Son (26 December 2017). "특집 여론조사…국민 59.7% "적폐청산 수사 계속해야"". MBC Newsdesk.
  53. ^
  54. ^ Kamolvattanavith, Teirra (February 18, 2019). "3 in 5 Thais support same-sex civil partnerships: survey". Coconuts Bangkok. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  55. ^ "One in three Vietnamese support marriage equality". GayStarNews. March 31, 2014. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014.
  56. ^ Support in Hong Kong for Same-sex Couples’ Rights Grew Over Four Years (2013–2017) Over Half of People in Hong Kong Now Support Same-Sex Marriage
  57. ^
  58. ^