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Gay marriage around the world

– European pioneers –

In April 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in a civil ceremony.

More than a dozen European countries followed: Belgium, Britain (except Northern Ireland), Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

In Germany, gay marriage has also been approved and is to take effect within a few months.

Some European countries only allow same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships however, including Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, and Switzerland.

In October 2014, Estonia became the first former Soviet republic to authorise this type of civil union.

Many eastern European countries — including Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia — deny homosexuals the right to marry or enter into unions.

In December 2015, Slovenians rejected in a referendum a proposal by their national parliament to legalise gay marriage.

About 15 western European countries allow same-sex couples to adopt children, whether within marriage or civil partnerships. They include Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany (soon), the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. Finland and Slovenia allow gay people to adopt their partner’s children.

– Progress in the Americas –

Canada led the way in North America, authorising same-sex marriage and adoptions in June 2005.

In the United States, a Supreme Court decision in June 2015 legalised gay marriage nationwide. Fourteen states nonetheless still consider it to be illegal.

Mexico’s federal capital led the way in Latin America, authorising civil unions in 2007 and marriages in 2009.

Same-sex marriages are also legal in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay.

Chile’s civil union law recognises same-sex couples, and Costa Rica allows them to share health and pension benefits.

– Rare in Africa, Asia and Middle East –

On the African continent, where around 30 countries ban homosexuality, only in South Africa can gays legally marry and adopt children.

In the Middle East, Israel leads in terms of respect for homosexual rights, recognising gay marriages performed elsewhere even though such marriages are not performed in Israel itself. Gay couples can jointly adopt children.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the only country that allows gays to marry is New Zealand, which passed a law in April 2013.

Several Australian states practise civil unions, which are not recognised nationwide. But adoptions by gay parents are legal.

In May, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled against laws that prevent same-sex unions and gave the government two years to draft new legislation.


AFP / Expatica