Full List of 84 Countries Where Prostitution Is Legal 2024 (Totally or Partially)
Prostitutes engage in the business of selling sex services to customers in exchange for cash and merchandise. The practice, business, or occupation of having sex with someone for payment is known as prostitution. Worldwide, there are thought to be 42 million prostitutes. Prostitutes can be transgender, heterosexual, or female, and they can offer heterosexual or homosexual services.
It is illegal and considered immoral in many countries around the world to sell sex services. On the other hand, prostitution has been legalized in a number of nations.
Even so, there might still be limitations on a few activities, like prostitutes on the streets, brothels, and more.
The world’s nations have taken a wide range of legal stances on what precisely constitutes legal and illegal prostitution, as well as the best ways to control or outlaw the sector:
• Prohibitionism – Prostitution is universally forbidden, criminalized, and illegal. It is illegal to sell, buy, arrange (through pimps, brothels, etc.), and solicit sex for profit. This strategy is prevalent in highly religious nations, particularly those that forbid pornography.
• Neo-abolitionism -According to this ideology, prostitution is violence against women. Although buying, planning, and soliciting sex are all prohibited, selling sex is allowed. When caught in the act, prostitutes are not prosecuted; instead, their clients and pimps—the prostitute’s “organizer” or boss—are held legally innocent. The purpose of this “reverse loophole” is to reduce demand.
• Abolitionism – the method that is most widely used globally. It is legal to buy and sell sexual services. However, in an attempt to stop the exploitation of the sex worker, it is typically illegal to engage in public solicitation, run a brothel, or engage in any kind of “organization” including forced prostitution, pimping, or procuring.
• Legalization – It is legal to buy, sell, and engage in some types of organization (usually brothels) and sex solicitation. However, they are also governed; for example, only permitting prostitution in specific areas or requiring prostitutes to register.
• Decriminalization – Selling, purchasing, arranging, and requesting sex are all permitted (or are just not mentioned in the law) and are not subject to any particular restrictions.
• State and local governments in some nations, like the US and Australia, may have additional prostitution-related laws.
See the World Population Review table Here for a more comprehensive list of nations and their respective prostitution laws.
In actuality, prostitution is completely legal in just 21 nations worldwide. Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Ecuador, Eritrea, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela are some of the nations that fall under this category.
Sex work is legal and regulated in these nations as a legitimate profession. It is legal for prostitutes to operate in specific locations, such as brothels, without worrying about facing legal repercussions. Certain nations, like Germany and the Netherlands, have laws requiring sex workers to register with the government and submit to routine health examinations in order to protect both themselves and their clients.
Many people believe that legalizing prostitution in these nations will shield sex workers from abuse, maltreatment, and illness. These nations think they can make the environment safer for sex workers and their clients by bringing sex work out of the shadows and into the open. But even in these nations, prostitution is still a very contentious practice.
The following list of nations includes those whose laws permit prostitution or other sexual services:
Germany has a federal system that essentially gives each state the authority to interpret, enact, and enforce federal laws according to its own laws, and prostitution is legal there.
The first time this law was discussed or made public was on December 20, 2001. Nevertheless, on January 1, 2002, a month later, this law became operative. Germany’s federal law known as the Prostitution Act governs the legalization of prostitution as a service. The legal, social, and living circumstances of the nation’s prostitutes are all improved by this law.
With the introduction of the “Prostitutes Protection Act” in 2017, prostitution became legal in Germany. The purpose of this Act was to safeguard the legal rights of sex workers and prostitutes. The act mandates that all prostitution trades have a certificate of authorization and registration.
Mexico is another country that has legalized prostitution under federal law. According to this law, each of the 31 states of Mexico contains its own prostitution legislation. Out of which 13 of them allow and regulate prostitution.
Although prostitution involving minors under the age of 18 is illegal and contains major consequences. Various cities in Mexico contain a “tolerance zone” which operates as a red-light district and allows people to regulate prostitution.
However, most areas in Mexico have prohibited pimping which is basically the practice of controlling and arranging clients for prostitution and gaining a commission from their earnings.
In India, prostitution is deemed lawful as per the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956. While prostitution is legal in India, some forms of sexual activity are not, including managing or owning a brothel as defined by Section 3, prostitution in hotels as defined by Section 7, and pimping.
In addition to this, child prostitution is illegal and punished in India. Sections 372 and 373 state that it is unlawful to purchase, import, or sell minors involved in any kind of prostitution or sexual activity.
The “Prostitution Reform Act 2003” states that it is legal to operate a brothel, solicit clients on the street, and live off the earnings of another person’s prostitution in New Zealand. Nonetheless, it is illegal to force or coerce sex workers in any way.
One of the most lenient legal systems in the world is thought to exist in New Zealand. Nonetheless, the Summary Offenses Act 1981 remains operative, essentially dictating that any impolite conduct by a prostitute in public spaces may result in legal consequences.
Another nation that has legalized prostitution and permitted prostitutes to offer their services for sale is Singapore. However, prostitution in Singapore is subject to a number of laws and rules. For example, although prostitution is legal in Singapore, many prostitution-related businesses and services are not allowed there.
In Singapore, women from both domestic and foreign backgrounds can provide sex services through government-run brothels. The law mandates that prostitutes carry a health card and undergo routine medical examinations.
In contrast, sections 376A and 376B declare that having sex with a girl younger than 16—with or without her consent—is illegal. Additionally, it is forbidden in Singapore to pay a girl under the age of 18 for sexual services.
While prostitution is permitted in Singapore, there are still a number of sexual activities that are not, and these are listed below:
There are currently 63 nations in the world where prostitution is somewhat permitted. Some of these nations have more permissive laws and regulations than others that control the sex industry.
In these nations, prostitutes can lawfully labor in specific establishments, like brothels, and must register with the authorities. Outside of these regions, prostitution is prohibited and may be punished with fines or even jail time. Furthermore, some nations have passed legislation making it unlawful for customers to have sex with sex workers; these laws criminalize the purchase of sex services.
Partial legalization proponents contend that it increases protection for sex workers and permits more regulation of the sex industry. Critics counter that it can contribute to the stigmatization of sex workers and increase human trafficking and exploitation.
The 63 countries where prostitution is partially legal are: Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Macau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Spain, Tajikistan, Thailand, The Bahamas, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, and Zambia.
Let’s examine those nations where prostitution has been partially legalized internationally. The laws and regulations pertaining to prostitution vary among the states in the aforementioned countries.
Canada is the first nation on this list. In Canada, selling sex or engaging in prostitution is accepted as legal. However, since House Government Bill C-36 was put into effect in 2014, buying sex is thought to be illegal in Canada.
Under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, it is strictly forbidden to purchase sexual services and to communicate for that purpose in any area close to community centers, playgrounds, or schools.
In Australia, prostitution laws differ from one state to the next and can be decriminalized, legalized, or criminalized. Rules and regulations pertaining to certain aspects of sex work across Australia are impacted by federal legislation.
New South Wales was the first state in Australia to completely decriminalize sex work. The first year that prostitution was decriminalized was 1995. In 1998, New South Wales legalized brothels through the Summary Offences Act. Another Australian state, Victoria, decriminalized sex work and legalized street-based sex services in 2022.
Despite this, it did forbid having sex in close proximity to certain places, like churches and schools. The remaining Australian states that have legalized prostitution are South Australia, West Australia, NT, Queensland, ACT, and Tasmania. However, the Summary Offenses Act of 1953 and the Criminal Law Consolidation Act of 1935 still prohibit brothels in South Australia.
In France, selling sex is legal, just like it is in Canada. However, with the passage of Law No. 2016-444 on April 13, 2016, purchasing sex is now illegal. Additionally, it is mentioned that sex workers may face penalties for moving violations and that migrant sex workers in France are primarily subject to enforcement of public order, immigration, and anti-trafficking laws.
There are regional differences in the way that prostitution is policed. In cities and towns, discreet brothels are acknowledged.
Since prostitution in Japan is only defined as having sex, running brothels, enticing people to become prostitutes, forcing someone into prostitution, making money from sex services, and other related activities are all illegal according to Japanese law. The Prostitution Prevention Law of 1956 states that engaging in any form of “unnamed intercourse for payment” is prohibited in Japan.
According to Article 3 of the prostitution prevention law, it is illegal for anyone to purchase or sell sex services. Nonetheless, other types of commercial sex, like those found in massage parlors, soap operas, and other establishments, are accepted and legitimate in Japan.
Additionally, prostitution has been partially legalized in the UK. Article 15 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act states that trading in sex is acceptable in Northern Ireland. However, purchasing sex is forbidden in Northern Ireland.
Apart from this, the following actions are listed below as being prohibited in the United Kingdom:
pursuing sexual services with individuals in public spaces.
using phone booths to advertise your companies.
renting out a brothel or permitting it to run on your property.
trafficking individuals for sexual services into or out of the UK.
gaining access to someone offering sex services by coercion, threat, or fraud.
The 2016 report “Prostitution: Third Report of Session 2016–17” by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee states that the sale and purchase of sex services is lawful in England and Wales.
However, a number of activities related to prostitution are illegal in the UK, including running or owning a brothel and buying and selling sex services in public areas like streets, parks, and schools.
The United States of America, like most of the nations listed above, is a federal system. For this reason, laws pertaining to prostitution and sex work vary from state to state throughout the nation.
For instance, it is illegal to purchase, sell, or arrange for the provision of sexual services in the majority of US states. Nevada is one of the states that has legalized licensed brothels, despite the fact that most states in the United States view prostitution as an illegal activity.
Nonetheless, there are still a number of laws in Nevada, including ones requiring STI and HIV testing. In other words, all states permit prostitutes to practice, sell, or buy sex services, with the exception of Nevada.
Prostitution in China is illegal but practiced openly. Scroll down to know more about sex worker in China!
Which countries is prostitution legal in Europe and What countries observe a strict ban on sex work?