LGBT rights in in Tibet
Tibet Autonomous Region within the People's Republic of China and disputed Tibetan areas controlled by India
StatusLegal (in China since 1997 and in India since 2018)
Discrimination protectionsNo
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Tibet encounter specific legal and social challenges not faced by non-LGBT residents. The Tibetan Plateau, spanning areas under the sovereignty of both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of India, has variations in the legal treatment of LGBT individuals between these nations. Since 1997 in China and 2018 in India, all forms of same-sex sexual activities were legalised. However, in both nations, same-sex couples lack the rights to marry or adopt children, and there is no provision for common law marriages, same-sex marriage, civil unions, or issue partnership certificates.[1][2][3][4][5]

In India, same-sex couples have limited rights to cohabitation.[6][7] In China, no explicit legal protections against discrimination for LGBT individuals, nor does it have hate crime laws that encompass sexual orientation or gender identity.[5]

Within the Tibetan cultural context, no specific Tibetan support groups for LGBT individuals are reported. However, Han Chinese residents in Tibet have established community structures, such as LGBT-friendly bars.[8][9] Interviews conducted by a Singapore-based Asian gay website state that Tibetan youth generally exhibit a relaxed attitude towards homosexuality.[9] The cultural norm in Tibet discourages any public displays of affection, a stance influenced partly by Buddhism's glorification on celibacy, rather than a direct manifestation of homophobia.

The historical account of Ernst Schäfer’s 1938–39 German expedition to Tibet notes the presence of homosexual relationships, particularly between older lamas and younger boys,[citation needed] highlighting the role of homosexuality in the region's socio-political fabric.[citation needed] There are pages of careful observation of Himalayan people engaged in a variety of intimate acts.[10]

Tenzin Mariko, a former Buddhist monk from Dharamshala, is recognized as the first openly transgender woman within the Tibetan community. She has actively engaged with Tibetan social organizations and has been received by religious leaders, marking a significant step towards visibility and acceptance of transgender individuals in Tibetan society.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Mathur, Vaishali (June 2020). "Homosexual Live-in relationship in India: Socio Legal Dimension in reference to Right to life or Social stigma". International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 24 (8): 14989–14995. ISSN 1475-7192.
  2. ^ "Indian High Court Reaffirms Same-sex Couples' Right to Cohabitation". Human Rights Pulse. 9 August 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  3. ^ Kelleher, Patrick (18 October 2023). "India's LGBTQ+ community 'must demand' equality, following crushing same-sex marriage blow". PinkNews. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  4. ^ "Intercountry Adoption - China - Who Can Adopt". Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b Mountford, Tom (24 March 2010). "China: The Legal Position and Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the People's Republic of China". Archived from the original on 19 October 2020. Retrieved 29 April 2017.. (use the "attachments" column to view the PDF)
  6. ^ "Can't marry, but same sex couples have right to live together: Uttarakhand High Court". 19 June 2020.
  7. ^ Pandey, Geeta (16 October 2023). "Same-sex marriage: India awaits historic Supreme Court verdict". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  8. ^ "LGBTQ Communities and Issues." The Himalayas: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture, edited by Andrew J. Hund and James A. Wren, ABC-CLIO, 2018, pp. 27–29. Gale Virtual Reference Library, . Accessed 5 December 2018.
  9. ^ a b Gardner, Dinah (6 April 2007). "gay in lhasa". Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  10. ^ Peter Levenda, Unholy alliance: a history of Nazi involvement with the occult, 2nd edition, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, 423 p., p. 194.
  11. ^ Gurung, Tsering D. (24 July 2017). "The Former Buddhist Monk Who Is Now A Tibetan Queer Icon". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 5 December 2018.