A quick overview of same-sex unions around the world, where they are legal and what restrictions are placed on them.
By
SBS

22 Oct 2013 - 1:45 PM  UPDATED 13 Dec 2013 - 12:03 PM

Various countries and jurisdictions around the world have legally formalised same-sex marriages, while others recognise the unions but do not allow instruments of the state to perform them.

MOST RECENTLY

US States Hawaii (November 12, 2013) and Illinois (November 21, 2013) became the most recent jurisdictions to legalise same-sex marriage in November 2013.

FULL LEGALISATION

Since 2001, fifteen countries have legalised same-sex marriage, affording full recognition and rights to couples entering into them. They are (in chronological order):

Netherlands (April 1, 2001)

Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba)

Belgium (June 1, 2003)

Spain (July 3, 2005)

Canada (July 20, 2005)

South Africa (2006)

Norway (January 1, 2009)

Sweden (May 1, 2009)

Portugal (June 5, 2010)

Iceland (June 27, 2010)

Argentina (July 22, 2010)

Denmark (15 June 2012)

Uruguay (April 2, 2013)

New Zealand (April 17, 2013)

France (April 23, 2013)

PARTIAL LEGALISATION
In some nations same-sex marriage can be performed only in certain states, but is then nationally recognised.

Brazil (October 2011) Same-sex couples are entitled to civil unions, but can convert the civil union to marriage in several Brazilian states with the approval of a judge and the marriage is then nationally recognised.

Mexico (same-sex marriages can only be performed in Mexico City and the state of Quintana Roo, but must be recognised by all 31 states)

LOCAL RECOGNITION
Several jurisdictions in the United States and elsewhere have also legalised and recognised same-sex marriage.

In the US:

Massachusetts, USA (May 17, 2004)

Connecticut, USA (November 12, 2008)

Iowa, USA (April 3, 2009)

Vermont, USA (September 1, 2009)

District of Columbia, USA (December 18, 2009)

Coquille Tribe in Oregon, USA but not bound by state constitution (May, 2009)

New Hampshire, USA (January 1, 2010)

New York, USA (July 24, 2011)

Maryland, USA (November 6, 2012)

Washington State, USA (December 6, 2012)

Maine, USA (December 29, 2012)

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan, USA but not bound by state constitution (March 15, 2010)

Rhode Island, USA (May 2, 2013)

Delaware, USA (July 1, 2013)

Minnesota, USA (Aug 1, 2013)

New Jersey, USA (October 21, 2013)

Hawaii, USA (November 12, 2013)

Illinois, USA (November 21, 2013)

Britain:

England (legalised on July 17, 2013, expected to be brought into force by mid-2014)

Wales (legalised on July 17, 2013, expected to be brought into force by mid-2014)

RECOGNITION
Six other jurisdictions recognise same-sex marriages, but do not perform them. They are:

Aruba (Netherlands)

Curacao (Netherlands)

Israel

Saint Maarten (Netherlands)

California, USA*

New Jersey, USA

Rhode Island, USA

CALIFORNIA
The history of same-sex marriages in California is stormy, and has resulted in a status that is unique among the state's 50 counterparts.

In June 2008, an equal protection ruling by California's Supreme Court okayed marriage licences for gay couples, but on November 5 of the same year, a constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8 was passed, disallowing them.

Marriages formed during the period the licenses were legal and remain fully recognised, while those wedded afterwards retain all rights except to the term 'marriage'.

Two years later, federal judge Vaughn Walker declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, but stayed his ruling. Supporters and opponents submitted legal briefs to the judge on a long-term stay of his ruling.

On August 16, 2010 The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the motion to stay.

In March 2013 the Supreme Court heard challenges to the Proposition 8 ban, and will make a decision later in the year.

CIVIL UNIONS
The following jurisdictions grant marriage-like rights to people of the same gender who are in civil unions or registered or 'de facto' partnerships, but only some of them also allow such unions to be performed by the state.

Andorra

Austria

Colombia

Czech Republic

Ecuador

Finland

France (New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna)

(On April 12, 2013, the French Senate approved a bill legalising same-sex marriage. Both chambers still have to vote on amendments in a second reading, however it's expected to pass)

Germany

Greenland

Hungary

Ireland

Luxembourg

Slovenia

Switzerland

United Kingdom

PERFORMING CIVIL UNIONS
These jurisdictions allow state officials to perform civil unions:

Australia: ACT, NSW (Sydney), Tasmania, Victoria

Mexico: Coahuila

USA: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Washington,

Wisconsin

Venezuela: Merida

UNREGISTERED COHABITATION

Countries granting rights to same-sex couples living in unregistered de facto relationships:

Australia

Brazil

Croatia

Israel

USA (Maryland, Rhode Island)

LAWS UNDER WAY

Scotland:

On 27 June 2013, the Scottish Government introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnerships Bill in the Scottish Parliament. The Herald Scotland reports the bill will be fast-tracked through the Scottish Parliament, starting on 5 September with the aim of achieving Royal Assent for the legislation by March 2014.

Australia:

On October 22 2013, the Australian Capital Territory introduced same-sex marriage laws. However, they were struck down six weeks later after the federal Government challenged the legality of the ACT marriage act in the High Court.