Asia is a mystery to most non-Asians, but with the influence of the West, Asia is slowly accepting modern ways of thinking. We don’t want to say that the rest of the world is more developed than Asia. Far from it. Many countries still deal with rooted gender and sexuality roles. Even in the countries with the best gender equality and LGBT laws, you can find close-minded people who resist change. There are many people like that in Asia. Women in Asia still aren’t equal to men, even though most countries work hard to change that. You need to remember that the current mindset is the product of centuries of inherited knowledge. Changing people’s beliefs is difficult and takes time. Yet Asian lesbians, gay men, and other LGBT people are in a much better situation than generations before them. We hope that things keep moving in the same direction. Until then, we’ll talk about the situation with sexuality in modern Asia.

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Lesbians and Gays in Modern Asia

Most of the Asian continent, especially the western part, still sticks to its old ways. When Genghis Khan practically ruled the world, he made a law to punish every homosexual activity with death. It’s a sad reality that in some Asian countries, gay men and lesbians have to be afraid for their lives just because they’re different.

According to a survey by The Economist (2019), 45% of people in the Asia-Pacific believed that same-sex marriage should be legal. 31% were against it. A similar survey was done 3 years before that. The results showed that 75% of people started being more open-minded towards the LGBT community. That shows that Asians aren’t the problem anymore. They are ready for a change. But inherited laws are still there in some countries, so it will take more time until Asia becomes a sanctuary of equality and acceptance.

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But not everything is so black. In the most developed Asian countries, being gay isn’t a crime. In some, it’s even possible to get legally married. We’ll list them all later. Now let’s see what decriminalizing same-sex activities means for the Asian LGBT community.

After changes in the mindset and laws, online dating for gays and lesbians gained popularity in Asia. It’s less stressful to flirt with a lesbian Asian on a dating site when you don’t have to fear for your life. Thousands of Asian lesbians realized that, so they get most of their dates on the site. There’s a social reason for that.

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Many lesbian women and gay men meet partners solely on dating sites to avoid judgy looks. Some people still don’t respect love between two women or two men. That’s why it’s much less painful to meet online first and go on dates to places where no one will hate lesbians just because they hold hands. Hopefully, every bit of that ancient way of thinking will disappear soon.

Other LGBT groups in Asia

Western countries like to pretend they are the pillars of acceptance and open-mindedness. Compared to Asia, that might be true, but only for lesbians and gays. Asian countries are still behind the developed countries from the West. But… and it’s a huge one!

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Some Asian countries are so far ahead of the rest of the world regarding other LGBT groups that we can all learn from them. Asian countries have a rich trans-related history. In many countries, transgender people were worshiped and considered the link between people and gods. What’s even more interesting, some countries, including Thailand, didn’t have clear gender roles until the arrival of the British people. In other words, the prosperous and modern West forced the old-fashioned East to abandon its culture of acceptance. Trans people still enjoy special treatment in some countries because that’s their tradition. But it’s good to see that even countries strictly against same-sex relationships and gender equality allow their transgender citizens to surgically change sex.

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“Good” and “Bad” Countries for LGBT people in Asia

Now let’s check Asian countries and their LGBT laws. Some are bizarre. In Turkmenistan, gay men get 2 years of prison time, while lesbians can date each other. We guess that lesbians in Turkmenistan spend every second relaxing while gay men have to move out of the country.

Here is the list of Asian countries where same-sex relationships are illegal:

  • Afghanistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Iran
  • Oman
  • Palestine (illegal for men in Gaza)
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE
  • Yemen
  • Bangladesh
  • Maldives
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Brunei
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore

As you can see, the countries from the list are either in the Middle East or don’t belong among the most developed countries in Asia. China, Japan, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, and South Korea have legalized same-sex relationships. Most of them stopped on that because gays still can’t get married or adopt kids. But things are moving forward in that direction too. It’s interesting to mention that Mongolia, the country whose ruler started punishing gay activities by death, legalized same-sex relationships in 1961. That’s the clear evidence that everything changes. We hope that things in Asia will keep changing in the right direction.

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