With so much conversation about LGBTQ acceptance surrounding this year’s World Cup in Russia, we thought it would be interesting to examine the 32 participating countries in regards to their LGBTQ acceptance and LGBTQ rights.

Of course it’s nearly impossible to precisely compare the policies and attitudes of 32 different nations from various continents. Yet it’s clear that countries like Belgium and Colombia are more accepting than places like Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

First, here’s the ranking of 25 of the participating World Cup countries based on public-opinion polls of support for same-sex marriage (the other seven don’t have polls available that we could find).

Percentage of residents polled who support same-sex marriage:

Sweden – 88%
Iceland – 87%
Denmark – 86%
Belgium – 82%
Spain – 77%
Germany – 75%
Switzerland – 75%
England (UK) – 73%
France – 73%
Uruguay – 70%
Mexico – 69%
Australia – 65%
Portugal – 59%
Argentina – 59%
Japan – 51%
Brazil – 45%
Costa Rica – 45%
South Korea – 41%
Croatia – 31%
Poland – 30%
Panama – 23%
Peru – 13%
Serbia – 12%
Russia – 5%

No poll: Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Tunisia.

Source: Wikipedia’s list of polls

The number for some countries, like Sweden, could be changing. In the last decade, Sweden has had a huge influx of people from countries like Syria, Iraq and Iran, where homosexuality isn’t just rejected, it’s flat-out outlawed. Will these acceptance percentages go down, or will the immigrants from other countries adjust their beliefs to the local culture? It remains to be seen.

Policy-wise, here’s our best analysis of the 32 World Cup countries, based on their laws for LGBTQ people. It may not be perfect, but the list reflects overall federal policy. To be sure, trying to determine whether England or Spain’s laws in 2018 are better is tough. Deciding whether you should cheer for #3 vs. #4 isn’t the point of the list, but rather to give you ideas of big differences between participants.

All told, almost 47% of the 2018 World Cup countries have national protections for marriage equality. Only 13% of the world’s nations have such federal laws.

The lesson: Legalize same-sex marriage and you have a better chance to qualify for the World Cup in 2022@

# Indicates same-sex marriage is fully legal federally and performed nationwide
& Indicates homosexual sex is fully legal nationally


1) Belgium #&
Belgium offers some of the most equal rights in the world. Gay men don’t have access to surrogacy, but neither to straight couples.

2) Germany #&
Very similar rights to Belgium. Some of the most inclusive in the world.

3) England #&
England’s laws are incredibly LGBTQ-inclusive, despite other parts of Great Britain still playing catch-up.

4) Spain #&
Inclusive laws, but some vary by region or community.

5) Colombia #&
The most LGBTQ-inclusive laws in South America, there are few restrictions for the community and same-sex couples. Surrogacy laws are vague at best. Blood donation by LGBTQ people is legal.

6) France #&
France’s only issues involve fertility and surrogacy. MSMs have a one-year waiting period to donate blood.

7) Iceland #&
Bans surrogacy for all people. MSMs cannot donate blood, but a change has been proposed.

8) Sweden #&
Similar to France, some issues with surrogacy and blood donation.

9) Denmark #&
Strong protections in some areas, but lacking access to blood donation and protections against hate speech based on gender identity.

10) Australia #&
Australia is a patchwork of state and territorial laws with some pretty good federal laws protecting LGBTQ people.

11) Uruguay #&
Strong laws. Trans people cannot serve in the military.

12) Portugal #&
Still struggling with some transgender inclusion. One-year waiting period for MSMs to donate blood.

13) Brazil #&
Anti-discrimination laws vary based on state. Surrogacy and blood donation not allowed.

14) Argentina #&
Lacking some key anti-discrimination laws.

15) Mexico &
Marriage is federally legal but only performed in certain states.


16) Switzerland &
Same-sex marriage is being considered. Adoption and other issues are also concerns.

17) Costa Rica &
Efforts are underway to legalize same-sex marriage, and those efforts should be fruitful in the near future.

18) Peru &
Same-sex marriage is reportedly coming soon.

19) Panama &
A fight is ensuing about same-sex marriage that should result in its federal legalization soon.

20) Croatia &
Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage

21) Serbia &
Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage

22) Poland &
Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage since 1997, though there is some recognition of same-sex couples.

23) Japan &
No recognition of same-sex relationships, but trans people can legally change gender.

24) South Korea &
Homosexual sex is legal, and trans people can change their gender. But not much else.


25) Russia
Homosexual sex is legal, but in places like Chechnya that is largely being ignored, upending the law. Very few protections for LGBT people. Same-sex marriage is not legal.

26) Iran
Imprisonment and execution are both possible for same-sex sexual activity. Iran does provide the right to change one’s legal gender.

27) Morocco
Up to three years imprisonment for having sex with your partner.

28) Tunisia
Up to three years imprisonment for having sex with your partner.

29) Senegal
Imprisonment for sex with someone of the same gender can range up to five years.

30) Egypt
Up to 17 years imprisonment for sex with your same-sex partner.


31) Saudi Arabia
Complete disaster. Discrimination against LGBTQ people is widely encouraged. Two convictions of homosexual sex can lead to execution. In 2014, 61% of people polled were against same-sex marriage, putting Saudi Arabia about 20 years behind the United States.

32) Nigeria
Complete and utter disaster for LGBTQ rights. Maximum penalty is either 14 years imprisonment or death, depending on the state.

Sources: Rainbow Europe; PRI; NBC; Wikipedia; PinkNews; Williams Institute.

Don't forget to share: