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

7 Oct 2014 - 2:53 PM  UPDATED 7 Oct 2014 - 5:57 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.

Full legalisation

Since 2001, 19 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)

Luxembourg (June 18, 2014)

Scotland (February 4, 2014)

England and Wales (July 17, 2013)

Brazil (May 14 2013)

Partial legalisation

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

Mexico: In December 2012, the Mexican Supreme Court declared that the Oaxaca civil code restricting marriage to different sex couples is unconstitutional. Under Mexican law, the ruling currently only applies to the three couples who filed the suit. 

US: A Supreme Court decision on October 6 has effectively legalised same-sex marriage in 24 states, with six more expected to soon follow suit. 

Laws underway

COLOMBIA: In December 2012, a Senate committee approved a measure by a 10-5 vote to allow for same-sex marriage, but in April 2013, the measure was not approved. 

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.




Czech Republic



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)








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,


Venezuela: Merida