Equality Index

UPDATE: The 18 Countries Where You Can Now (Or Soon) Get Hitched

marriage equality countries1UPDATE:

There are 18 countries that extend their marriage rights to same-sex couples, and 2 (Mexico and the US) that have regional or court-directed laws in place. Here’s the chronological list of the countries that make up the legal gay rainbow as of January 2014, plus the GayCities exclusive insider guides.

NETHERLANDS – April 21, 2001
BELGIUM – June 1, 2003
SPAIN – July 3, 2005
CANADA – July 20, 2005
SOUTH AFRICA – November 30, 2006
NORWAY – January 1, 2009
SWEDEN – May 1, 2009
PORTUGAL – June 5, 2010
ICELAND – June 22, 2010
ARGENTINA – July 22, 2010
DENMARK – June 15, 2012
BRAZIL – May 14, 2013
FRANCE – May 29, 2013
URUGUAY – June 19, 2013
COLOMBIA – June 20, 2013
NEW ZEALAND – August 19, 2013
ENGLAND – 2014*
WALES – 2014*

*Date in Summer 2014.

ORIGINAL STORY (July 23, 2013): With the American marriage equality train kicking into hyperdrive, it’s worth remembering that the nation still lags behind much of the modern world when it comes to nuptial fairness.

Like Mexico, the U.S.  now allows same-sex marriage in some states. Likewise across the pond, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 received the Queen’s blessing on July 17, and is expected to take effect in the middle of next year – but this will only allow same-sex marriages in England and Wales, and not the entire United Kingdom. But in 15 countries across the planet, marriage is now a federal right.

What follows is Queerty’s rundown of the countries that already have – or are very soon to get – full marriage equality, and some tidbits about their local laws and statistics. You may notice a critical trend here: The nations with full marriage equality tend to also be the most democratic and the most protective of minority rights, as well as boasting the lowest infant mortality rates and, yes, the richest citizenries per capita – by far.

pope francis

Top city: Buenos Aires
Legal since: July 2010
Number of married gay couples: unknown
Argentina was the first Latin American country to legalize marriage equality and the second in the Americas after Canada. Pope Francis (pictured), then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, staunchly opposed the law.


Top cities: Brussels, Antwerp
Legal since: June 2003
Number of married gay couples: 2,442 by July 2005
Belgium was the world’s second country to legalize marriage equality and the first to have it signed into law by a king, Albert II (pictured). At least one of the spouses must have lived in Belgium for three months.

Top cities: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
Legal since: May 2013
Number of married gay couples: too soon to tell
Many of Brazil’s states began sanctioning same-sex marriages in 2011, but a decision by the country’s Federal Court on May 14 of this year effectively legalized gay unions for the entire nation. Previously performed gay civil unions in Brazil were also immediately converted to marriages, if the parties so desired.


Top cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver
Legal since: July 2005
Number of married gay couples: 12,438 by October 2006 (including those married in provinces that adopted marriage equality earlier than the national law)
Canada was both the first country in the Americas and the first outside Europe to nationally legalize same-sex marriage. Interestingly, though marriage is open to any couple regardless of their residency, a Canadian divorce can only be granted if one of the spouses has lived in Canada for a year.


Top city: Copenhagen
Legal since: June 2012
Number of married gay couples: unknown
Though Denmark had been the world’s first country to enact registered partnerships way back in 1989, it lagged behind a bit with full marriage equality, becoming number 11 last year.

Photo: Clerical Whispers

Top cities: Paris, Marseille
Legal since: May 2013
Number of married gay couples: too soon to tell
Last week, France became the latest country to legalize marriage equality. Public protests broke out in Paris and Lyon after the bill passed parliament last month, but the law was ruled constitutional, and President François Hollande (who had vowed to support gay marriage during his election campaign) signed it into law on May 17.

Top city: Reykjavik
Legal since: June 2010
Number of married gay couples: unknown
Not a single member of Iceland’s parliament voted against its marriage equality bill, though seven members abstained. Former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (pictured) and her partner are among the country’s officially hitched same-sex couples.


Top city: Amsterdam
Legal since: April 2001
Number of married gay couples: 5,600 estimated through the end of 2005
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to enact marriage equality in 2001. The law is valid in the Netherlands proper and the Caribbean Islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba but not in Aruba, Curaçao, or St. Maarten (where same-sex marriages are recognized but not performed).


New Zealand
Top cities: Auckland, Wellington
Becomes law in: August 2013
Number of married gay couples: none yet
In August, New Zealand will become the first country in Oceania to sanction same-sex marriages. New Zealand’s House of Representatives passed the bill in April, despite the Conservative Party leader calling it a “failure of democracy.”


Top city: Oslo
Legal since: January 2009
Number of married gay couples: unknown, though it was reported in 2003 that around 150 same-sex couples a year were becoming registered domestic partners under Norway’s old law
Norway was the first Scandinavian country to implement marriage equality. A poll conducted in the country this year found that 70% of Norwegians support gender-neutral marriage.

Top city: Lisbon
Legal since: June 2010
Number of married gay couples: unknown
Same-sex foreign couples can marry in Portugal with no need to establish residence, and whether or not their home countries recognize such unions. Gay couples may not, however, adopt children in Portugal.


South Africa
Top cities: Johannesburg, Cape Town
Legal since: November 2006
Number of married gay couples: more than 3,000 by mid-2010
South Africa was the first African nation and only the second outside Europe to ratify marriage equality. The country’s first-ever traditional gay wedding (pictured) was held in the town of KwaDukuza last month.

Merkel Meets With Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero

Top cities: Madrid, Barcelona
Legal since: July 2005
Number of married gay couples: 23,523 through the end of 2011
Former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (pictured) called the passage of gay marriage his proudest achievement. His conservative successor, Mariano Rajoy, vowed to repeal the law, but the country’s Constitutional Court upheld it by and 8 to 3 margin last November.


Top cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg
Legal since: May 2009
Number of married gay couples: unknown
In November 2009, the Church of Sweden overwhelmingly voted in favor of allowing gender-neutral marriage ceremonies. The country’s Catholic and Pentecostal Churches and Muslim Association still forbid same-sex ceremonies.

Top city: Montevideo
Becomes law in: August 2013
Number of married gay couples: None yet
In August, Uruguay will become the second country in South America to usher in marriage equality. It was the first nation on the continent to sanction same-sex civil unions in 2008, and the first to allow gay couples to jointly adopt in 2009.

Photos via EnriqueMéndez & YouTube

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