Recognition of same-sex unions in Asia
|Legal status of same-sex unions|
* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal
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. 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.
Israel recognises unregistered cohabitation for same-sex couples. Several cities in Cambodia provide same-sex couples with some limited rights and benefits, including hospital visitation rights. Some cities in Japan issue certificates for same-sex couples, however they are entirely symbolic. In Hong Kong, the same-sex partners of residents can receive spousal visas and spousal benefits.
|Status||Country||Legal since||Country population|
(Last Census count)
(0.5% of the Asian population)
|Recognition of foreign marriage
* Constitutional ban on domestic same-sex marriages
(0.3% of the Asian population)
(0.2% of the Asian population)
(0.8% of the Asian population)
|No recognition |
* same-sex sexual activity illegal
|United Arab Emirates*||—||9,541,615|
(98.7% of the Asian population)
|Constitutional ban on marriage
* foreign same-sex marriages recognised
(0.6% of the Asian population)
(99.3% of the Asian population)
Partially-recognized and unrecognized states
(Last estimate count)
* same-sex sexual activity illegal
(0.1% of the Asian population)
|Constitutional ban on marriage
(0.003% of the Asian population)
(0.1% of the Asian population)
Future legislation and court challenges
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. On 13 April 2016, with hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters outside, the Changsha court ruled against Sun, who said he would appeal.
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. The judge in the case gave the applications license to be heard by the court, though suspended them to first hear another case.
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. There are also several same-sex marriage petitions pending in the courts.
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. 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".
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. 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.
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. The couple quickly filed an appeal against the district court ruling. 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.
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. The case was heard on 28 May 2019.
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. Alvarez introduced the bill on 10 October 2017.
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. 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. 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. 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.
|Armenia||Pew Research Center||2015||3%||96%||1%||±3%|||
|Georgia||Pew Research Center||2016||3%||95%||2%||±4%|||
|India||Mood of the Nation||2019||24%||62%||14%|||
|Kazakhstan||Pew Research Center||2016||7%||89%||4%||-|||
|South Korea||Gallup Korea||2017||41%||52%||6.1%||-|||
|Taiwan||Trend Survey and Research||2016||52%||43%||5%||-|||
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.
- Also comprises: Don't know; No answer; Other; Refused.
- LGBT rights in Asia
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Africa
- Recognition of same-sex unions in the Americas
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Oceania
- "Taiwan's high court paves the way for same-sex marriage, a first in Asia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
- "Same-sex marriages registered abroad are valid in Armenia".
- 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").
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- Rainbow Community Kampuchea: What we do?
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- All set to get legal status
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- "It’s civil union, not marriage"
- Thailand to revive gay rights Bill
- Thailand expected to introduce same-sex civil partnerships, independent.co.uk, 27 April 2018
- Thailand Could Actually Beat Taiwan to Legalizing Same-Sex Unions and Benefits
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- Sengar, Shweta (2 February 2019). "Prejudice Before Love? 62 Per Cent Indians Still Don't Approve Same-Sex Marriage, Finds Survey". India Times.
- Of which, 23% were in favor of some kind of civil unions
- Einhorn, Alon (7 June 2019). "54% OF RELIGIOUS JEWS SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE, PARTNERSHIP". The Jerusalem Post.
- "世論調査 価値観の変化は". NHK. May 2017.
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- "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.
- "Отношение к сексменьшинствам". ФОМ. June 2019.
- 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%).
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- 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