Same-sex marriage around the world: How many countries have legalised it?

Source: AAP

A growing number of countries have now legalised same-sex marriage - below is a list of them.

More and more countries around the world have now legalised same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Australia since December 2017, with the first ceremonies held in January 2018.

And the latest countries to legalise same-sex marriages were Ecuador, Taiwan and Austria in 2019.

We have put together a list of countries that have passed laws to allow same-sex marriage.

2001 – The Netherlands

The Netherlands was the first country to pass legislation to allow same-sex couples to legally marry, divorce and adopt children.

The law passed by a three-to-one margin.

Gert Kasteel, left, and Dolf Pasker exchange rings at Amsterdam's City Hall Sunday April 1, 2001. The pair was among four gay couples to get married under a new law which took effect April 1, 2001, the world's first such law allowing same-sex marriages wi
Gert Kasteel, left, and Dolf Pasker become one of the first same-sex couples in the world to wed on April 1, 2001.
AP Photo/Peter Dejong

2003 – Belgium

Belgium’s parliament voted to allow same-sex marriage in 2003, with the legislation in 2006 granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children.

2005 – Spain and Canada

In 2005, Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalise same-sex marriage. Parliament passed legislation after a steady march of court rulings had legalised the practice in the majority of the country’s provinces.

The Conservative Party attempted to repeal the legislation one year later but was defeated.

Spain’s parliament narrowly passed some of the world’s most liberal marriage equality laws in 2005, extending full rights to same-sex couples.

The move saw protests from Catholic officials and brought large crowds to the streets in Madrid.

2006 – South Africa

South Africa’s parliament legislated same-sex marriage in 2006, codifying a 2005 court decision which found that restricting marriage to heterosexuals was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The legislation passed with overwhelming support.

An unidentified man takes part in Johannesburg's 17th Gay Pride parade Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006. Last week South Africa's former deputy president Jacob Zuma drew fresh controversy  after he called homosexuality un-African and criticized plans to legalize
An unidentified man takes part in Johannesburg's 17th Gay Pride parade on September 30, 2006.
AP Photo/Denis Farrell

2009 - Norway, Sweden

Norway passed a law in 2008 allowing same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry since January 2009. The new law replaced a 1993 law permitting civil unions.

Sweden’s parliament passed same-sex marriage laws decisively in 2009, also replacing earlier civil union laws. The Church of Sweden allows clergy to officiate ceremonies.

2010 – Portugal, Iceland and Argentina

Portugal legalised same-sex marriage in 2010 through a parliamentary vote. In 2016 parliament overturned a presidential veto and granted same-sex couples the right to adopt.

Iceland’s parliament unanimously passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2010. Couples were already able to adopt.

The country’s Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, was one of the first to use the legislation, marrying her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir.

Argentina’s parliament narrowly passed same-sex-marriage laws in 2010, following several regional areas passing civil union laws.

The law sparked an outcry from Catholic groups in the country as it became the first in South America to legalise same-sex marriage.

Iceland's Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir speaks to the media following party negotiations in Reykjavik, Iceland, Wednesday Jan. 28, 2009. Sigurdardottir, 66, an openly gay former flight attendant, is expected to become Iceland's interim pr
Johanna Sigurdardottir speaks to the media in Reykjavik, Iceland.
AP Photo/Brynjar Gauti

2012 – Denmark

Denmark passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2012. Couples already had the right to register as partners and adopt children.

2013 – France, Brazil, Uruguay and New Zealand

New Zealand became the first country in the Asia Pacific to legalise same-sex marriage when parliament comfortably passed the law in 2013. The law also allowed couples to adopt.

France legalised same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption in 2013, a move which attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters and counter-protesters.

Uruguay decisively passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2013. Couples already had the right to adopt.

Brazil became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage not through legislation, but with a court ruling.

The National Justice Council ruled in 2013 that civil registrars must offer same-sex marriage services after several regions had already legislated for legalisation.  

2014 – The United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland

In 2013 British parliament passed a law which would legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales the following year. In 2014 the Scottish parliament passed a similar bill.

Northern Ireland has not passed same-sex marriage legislation.

The UK has performed hundreds of same-sex weddings in Australia for dual citizens.

2015 – Ireland, United States and Luxemburg

In 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the constitution protected the rights of citizens to marry, regardless of gender.

The divided Obergefell v. Hodges ruling instantly legalised same-sex marriage across all 50 states, several of which had already legislated the issue themselves.

It was the same year that Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.

The majority Catholic country voted in support of same-sex marriage with a majority of 62 per cent.

Luxembourg’s parliament overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage and adoption legislation in 2014, which came in to force on 1 January in 2015.

Less than four months after the law came into effect, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married his partner, Gauthier Destenay.

FILE - In this June 29, 2015 photo, Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide, is backed by supporters of the courts ruling on same-sex marriage on the step of the Texas
Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the US Supreme Court case that legalised same-sex marriage nationwide.
AP Photo/Eric Ga

2016 – Colombia and Greenland

In 2016 Colombia’s top court ruled that the country’s constitution guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage. 

Greenland’s parliament unanimously voted to adopt the marriage and adoption legislation of its parent country, Denmark, in 2015. The legislation came into effect for 56,000 Greenlanders in 2016.

2017 – Finland, Malta, Germany, Australia

In Finland, same-sex marriage has been legal since 1 March 2017. A bill for the legalisation was approved by the country's Parliament on 12 December 2014 and signed by the country's President in 2015. 

Malta has allowed same-sex couples to marry since a near-unanimous approval of the bill in July 2017, three years after a law was passed permitting civil partnerships in the predominantly Catholic country.

German MPs voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a snap poll in June 2017. It became law a few months later, in October.

Australia found out on 15 November 2017 that 61.6 per cent of voters were in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, while 38.4 per cent voted against it.

A bill to change the Marriage Act was passed in the House of Representatives on 7 December in 2017 and became law the following day.

The first same-sex couples were legally married in 2018.

Thousands of same-sex couples living in Australia who were married overseas instantly had their unions recognised under the law. 

MPs break out into song as same-sex marriage bill passes
MPs break out into song as same-sex marriage bill passes

2019 -  Ecuador, Taiwan, Austria

Ecuador's highest court has authorised same-sex marriage in a landmark case seeking to expand LGBT rights in the small South American nation.

The decision by the Constitutional Court came after a lengthy legal battle waged by several couples and gay rights advocates.

In 2017, Taiwan’s top court issued an ultimatum to the parliament: legislate same-sex marriage within two years or it will become legal regardless. 

Even before the ruling, President Tsai Ing-wen promised to legislate same-sex marriage.

In May 2019, Taiwan legalised same-sex unions and became the first country in Asia to do so.


Austria joined the vast majority of Western European countries in and legalised same-sex marriage after a High Court ruling in January 2019.


In August 2018, the Supreme Court in Costa Rica has ruled that the same-sex marriage ban in the country is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

The court ruling gives legislators a time limit of 18 months to change the law.

SBS VICELAND: Gaycation - LGBT+ life around the world


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