Same-sex marriage: How many countries allow gay marriage?

Same-sex marriage: How many countries allow gay marriage?
A growing number of countries have legalized and recognize same-sex marriage and still others allow for same-sex civil partnerships.

1. The Netherlands

The first legal gay marriage in the world took place in Amsterdam in the Netherlands on April 1, 2001.

2. Belgium

Belgium legalized gay marriages shortly after the Netherlands in 2003.

3 and 4. Spain and Canada

In 2005 the first same-sex couple married in Spain. National legislation was passed in Canada to allow for same-sex marriage in 2005.

5. South Africa

South Africa was the first African country to legalize gay marriage. This became legal in 2006.

6 and 7. Norway and Sweden

Norway and Sweden legalized gay marriage three years later in 2009.

8, 9 and 10. Portugal, Iceland and Argentina

In the following year (2010) three more countries legalized gay marriage: Portugal, Iceland and Argentina. Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage.

11. Denmark finally past the post

In June 2012 same-sex marriage became legal in Denmark. This law was passed 23 years after they had passed their civil partnership act in 1989.

12 and 13. Uruguay and New Zealand

The second Latin American country to legalize gay marriage was Uruguay in April 2013. The marriage equality law was approved by the Senate 23 votes to 8. The second country to legalize gay marriage in 2013 was New Zealand. The bill passed with a wide majority. Seventy votes in favor and 44 against. New Zealand was the first country in the Asia Pacific region to legalize gay marriage.

14. France

France’s upper house of parliament voted to legalize gay marriage in April 2013. They approved the bill with only small changes. The bill was passed in the lower house in May 2013. France is the fourteenth country to legalize same-sex marriage.

15. Brazil

Brazil also legalized same-sex marriage in May 2013. This development followed years of having the rights of same-sex couples in the spotlight. In 2011 same-sex couples were legally entitled to legal recognition of their relationship if they lived together. But it wasn’t until May 2013 when a ruling was made that required civil registers in Brazil to perform same-sex marriages.

16. US

In June 2013 the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was repealed in the US. This meant that the US federal government now recognizes same-sex marriage. However, states in the US are still able to make their own decisions regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage.

You can find out more about the facts related to DOMA at the Human Rights Campaign website. Gay and lesbian couples can marry in at least 13 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont) and Washington, DC.

17. UK

In 2013 the UK government backed a bill to legalize gay marriage, and on July 18th 2013 the Queen’s Royal Assent was granted to the bill. The bill then officially became law once its Royal Assent was announced in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The House of Lords formally approved the bill on July 15th 2013, and it went back to the House of Commons for their final approval on July 16th 2013 to ensure protections for transgender couples. The new law, for example, enables married individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage. However, in England and Wales established Churches of England and Wales are still banned from conducting same-sex marriage. Regardless, the first gay weddings took place one minute past midnight on Saturday March 29 2014.

18. Luxembourg

Lawmakers in Luxembourg approved same-sex marriage in June 2014. A Partenariat (PACS), which is a legal alternative to marriage, was available for heterosexual and same-sex couples since 1994. The same-sex marriage bill was passed with a majority of 56 votes to four votes.

Recognition in countries

In some countries same-sex marriage is performed in only some states or recognized in some states. This is the case in Mexico where same-sex marriages are recognized by all states and the federal government, but they can only take place in Mexico City and Quintana Roo. Israel recognize same-sex marriages performed in other countries. Same-sex couples are also able to use British laws to marry in Australia (from June 2014). But Australians can’t marry Australians under Australian law.

Growing support for same-sex marriage

The number of countries that legalize gay marriage just keep growing. The number of countries that legalize same-sex civil unions is also increasing. Plus, the body of research that shows the benefits of these developments is growing. These changes are, in part, due to the tireless efforts of all the campaigners who champion LGBTI rights around the globe. Pink Families acknowledges this important contribution as these changes make a tangible difference to the lives of many LGBTI families and individuals.

Watch one of our favorite films that supports the legalization of same-sex marriage. This film is from Australia, a country where same-sex marriage isn’t legal. The film is from Get Up! Action for Australia.

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