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Countries where same-sex marriage is officially legal

As the world becomes more accepting of various sexual orientations and gender identities, many countries have legalized same-sex marriage

By Ground report
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Supreme court refuses to allow same-sex marriage in landmark verdict

As the world becomes more accepting of various sexual orientations and gender identities, many countries have legalized same-sex marriage. This important progress towards equality has been a longstanding battle for the LGBTQ+ community.

While there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of acceptance and equal rights, the legalization of same-sex marriage has been an important milestone. In this article, we'll explore the countries where same-sex marriage is officially legal and discuss the implications of this change for the LGBTQ+ community.

To date, only 29 of the world's 195 countries have legalized same-sex marriage. While many same-sex couples have no choice but to wait for legalization (some are together for decades before they can finally marry), in many countries, people who can choose to marry do so later in life.

1. Netherlands

• Date legalized: April 1, 2001

The Netherlands, the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, experienced a gradual shift towards acceptance. In 1998, same-sex couples were granted many of the privileges associated with marriage. Despite opposition from the Christian Democratic Party, legislation was passed in December 2000 expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. This new law allowed same-sex couples to marry, divorce, and adopt children.

On April 1, 2001, four same-sex couples were the first to marry, followed by an additional 382 marriages that month. The Netherlands' path to legalization serves as an important example of how progress towards equality can be made through gradual change and perseverance in the face of opposition.

2. Belgium

• Date legalized: June 1, 2003

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2006, three years after same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands, the country's parliament granted same-sex couples the right to adopt.

3. Spain

• Date legalized: July 3, 2005

Despite strong opposition from conservative leaders and the Roman Catholic Church, the Spanish Parliament legalized same-sex marriage in a vote of 187 to 147. This gave same-sex couples rights to inheritance, adoption, and divorce. The country's socialist prime minister at the time, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, proposed the bill shortly after his election in 2004.

4. Canada

• Date legalized: July 20, 2005

Although Canada's federal government extended common law marriage rights to same-sex couples in 1999, it wasn't until 2005 that the Canadian Parliament legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. When Canada's ruling Conservative Party tried to reopen the debate in 2006, Parliament voted against the motion.

5. South Africa

• Date legalized: Nov. 30, 2006

The measure was approved by a margin of more than five to one with the support of the main opposition political parties.

6. Norway

• Date legalized: Jan. 1, 2009

In 1993, same-sex couples in Norway gained the right to civil unions. Fifteen years later, the government replaced this ruling with a new law that allowed same-sex couples to marry, adopt children, and undergo state-funded artificial insemination. The law entered into force on the first day of 2009.

7. Sweden

• Date legalized: May 1, 2009

Same-sex couples in Sweden have been able to register for civil unions since 1995, but in April 2009 the Swedish parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in both religious and civil ceremonies.

8. Portugal

• Date legalized: June 5, 2010

The Portuguese parliament passed a law allowing same-sex marriage in early 2010. After review by the Constitutional Court, the law was signed in May and entered into force in June 2010.

9. Iceland

• Date legalized: June 27, 2010

The vote to apply gender-neutral language to Iceland's definition of marriage passed unanimously in Parliament in June 2010

10. Argentina

• Date legalized: July 22, 2010

Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.

11. Denmark

• Date legalized: June 15, 2012

Denmark, the first country in the world to allow same-sex couples the right to register as domestic partnerships (in 1989), began allowing registered same-sex couples to adopt children in 2010. Then, in 2012, the country he finally legalized same-sex marriage.

12. Brazil

• Date legalized: May 16, 2013

In 2013, when nearly half of Brazil's states already recognized same-sex marriages, the country legalized them nationwide.

13. France

• Date legalized: May 18, 2013

France's supreme court ruled in favor of a bill allowing same-sex marriage and adoptions by same-sex couples in May 2013.

14 and 15. England and Wales

• Date legalized: March 29, 2014

A same-sex marriage bill passed in July 2013 and was ratified by the Queen the following day. The law entered into force on March 29, 2014.

16. Uruguay

• Date legalized: Aug. 5, 2013

Uruguay became the second Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage on Aug 3, 2013

17. New Zealand

• Date legalized: Aug. 19, 2013

New Zealand passed an amendment to the Marriage Act of 1955 that updated the definition of marriage to "the union of two persons

18. Scotland

• Date legalized: Dec. 16, 2014

Legislation on same-sex marriage, which came into effect in December 2014, left it up to churches to decide whether or not to celebrate marriages.

19. Luxembourg

• Date legalized: Jan. 1, 2015

On January 1, 2015, the bill allowing same-sex couples came into force, in the first major reform of the country's marriage laws since 1804.

20. Greenland

• Date legalized: Oct. 1, 2015.

On Oct. 1, 2015, the bill allowing same-sex couples came into force

21. United States

• Date legalized: June 26, 2015

22. Ireland

• Date legalized: Nov. 16, 2015

23. Colombia

• Date legalized: April 28, 2016

24. Finland

• Date legalized: March 1, 2017

25. Malta

• Date legalized: Sept. 1, 2017

26. Germany

• Date legalized: Oct. 1, 2017

27. Australia

• Date legalized: Dec. 7, 2017

28. Austria

• Date legalized: Jan. 1, 2019

29. Taiwan

• Date legalized: May 17, 2019

Costa Rica

Date legalized: May 26, 2020


Date legalized: Sept. 26, 2021

2023: Andorra

Estonia: 2024

Greece: 2024

Thailand: 2024 

The lower house of Thailand's parliament overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality bill on March 27, 2024, in a landmark decision, which brings the country closer to becoming the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. If the upper house passes the bill, then Thailand would be the third Asian country to legalise gay marriage.

 Nepal: 2023

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