Some proponents of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, such as Freedom to Marry and Canadians for Equal Marriage, use the terms marriage equality and equal marriage to indicate that they seek equal benefit of marriage laws as opposed to special rights.
Opponents of the legalization of same-sex marriage sometimes characterize it as redefining marriage or redefined marriage, especially in the United States. The term homosexual marriage is generally used by organisations opposed to same-sex marriage such as the Family Research Council in the United States; that term is rarely used in the mainstream press.
Associated Press style recommends the usages marriage for gays and lesbians or in space-limited headlines gay marriage with no hyphen and no scare quotes. The Associated Press warns that the construct gay marriage can imply that marriages of same-sex couples are somehow legally different from those of mixed-sex couples.
Anthropologists have struggled to determine a definition of marriage that absorbs commonalities of the social construct across cultures around the world. Many proposed definitions have been criticized for failing to recognize the existence of same-sex marriage in some cultures, including in more than 30 African cultures, such as the Kikuyu and Nuer.
With several countries revising their marriage laws to recognize same-sex couples in the 21st century, all major English dictionaries have revised their definition of the word marriage to either drop gender specifications or supplement them with secondary definitions to include gender-neutral language or explicit recognition of same-sex unions. The Oxford English Dictionary has recognized same-sex marriage since 2000.
Alan Dershowitz and others have suggested reserving the word marriage for religious contexts as part of privatizing marriage, and in civil and legal contexts using a uniform concept of civil unions, in part to strengthen the separation between church and state. Jennifer Roback Morse, the president of the anti-same-sex marriage group National Organization for Marriage's Ruth Institute project, claims that the conflation of marriage with contractual agreements is a threat to marriage.
Some publications that oppose same-sex marriage, such as WorldNetDaily and Baptist Press, have an editorial style policy of placing the word marriage in scare quotes ("marriage") when it is used in reference to same-sex couples. In the United States, the mainstream press has generally abandoned this practice. Cliff Kincaid of the conservative Accuracy in Media argued for use of quotation marks on the grounds that marriage was a legal status denied same-sex couples by most U.S. state governments. Same-sex marriage supporters argue that the use of scare quotes is an editorialization that implies illegitimacy.
Opponents of same-sex marriage such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Southern Baptist Convention use the term traditional marriage to mean marriages between one man and one woman.
The American Anthropological Association stated on February 26, 2004:
The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.
Research findings from 1998–2014 from the University of Virginia, Michigan State University, Florida State University, the University of Amsterdam, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Stanford University, the University of California-San Francisco, the University of California-Los Angeles, Tufts University, Boston Medical Center, the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health and independent researchers also support the findings of this study.
In 2010, a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study examining the effects of institutional discrimination on the psychiatric health of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals found an increase in psychiatric disorders, including a more than doubling of anxiety disorders, among the LGB population living in states that instituted bans on same-sex marriage. According to the author, the study highlighted the importance of abolishing institutional forms of discrimination, including those leading to disparities in the mental health and well-being of LGB individuals. Institutional discrimination is characterized by societal-level conditions that limit the opportunities and access to resources by socially disadvantaged groups.
Gay activist Jonathan Rauch has argued that marriage is good for all men, whether homosexual or heterosexual, because engaging in its social roles reduces men's aggression and promiscuity. The data of current psychological and other social science studies on same-sex marriage in comparison to mixed-sex marriage indicate that same-sex and mixed-sex relationships do not differ in their essential psychosocial dimensions; that a parent's sexual orientation is unrelated to their ability to provide a healthy and nurturing family environment; and that marriage bestows substantial psychological, social, and health benefits. Same-sex parents and carers and their children are likely to benefit in numerous ways from legal recognition of their families, and providing such recognition through marriage will bestow greater benefit than civil unions or domestic partnerships.
The American Psychological Association stated in 2004: "...Denial of access to marriage to same-sex couples may especially harm people who also experience discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, disability, gender and gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status and so on." It has also averred that same-sex couples who may only enter into a civil union, as opposed to a marriage, "are denied equal access to all the benefits, rights, and privileges provided by federal law to those of married couples," which has adverse effects on the well-being of same-sex partners.
In 2009, a pair of economists at Emory University tied the passage of state bans on same-sex marriage in the US to an increase in the rates of HIV infection. The study linked the passage of a same-sex marriage ban in a state to an increase in the annual HIV rate within that state of roughly 4 cases per 100,000 population.
Many psychologist organizations have concluded that children stand to benefit from the well-being that results when their parents' relationship is recognized and supported by society's institutions, e.g. civil marriage. For example, the Canadian Psychological Association stated in 2006 that "parents' financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally-recognized union." The CPA stated in 2003 the stressors encountered by gay and lesbian parents and their children are more likely the result of the way society treats them than because of any deficiencies in fitness to parent.
The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded in 2006, in an analysis published in the journal Pediatrics:
There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.
Numerous polls and studies on the issue have been conducted, including those that were completed throughout the first decade of the 21st century. A consistent trend of increasing support for same-sex marriage has been revealed across the world. Much of the research that was conducted in developed countries in the first decade of the 21st century shows a majority of people in support of same-sex marriage. Support for legal same-sex marriage has increased across every age group, political ideology, religion, gender, race and region of various developed countries in the world.
Recent polling in the United States has shown a further increase in public support for same-sex marriage. When adults were asked in 2005 if they thought "marriages between homosexuals should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages", 28 percent replied in the affirmative, while 68 percent replied in the negative (the remaining 4 percent stated that they were unsure). When adults were asked in March 2013 if they supported or opposed same-sex marriage, 50 percent said they supported same-sex marriage, while 41 percent were opposed, and the remaining 9 percent stated that they were unsure. Various detailed polls and studies on same-sex marriage that were conducted in several countries show that support for same-sex marriage generally increases with higher levels of education and decreases with age.
The first historical mention of the performance of same-sex marriages occurred during the early Roman Empire according to controversial historian John Boswell. These were usually reported in a critical or satirical manner. Child emperor Elagabalus referred to his chariot driver, a blond slave from Caria named Hierocles, as his husband. He also married an athlete named Zoticus in a lavish public ceremony in Rome amidst the rejoicings of the citizens.
The first Roman emperor to have married a man was Nero, who is reported to have married two other males on different occasions. The first was with one of Nero's own freedmen, Pythagoras, with whom Nero took the role of the bride. Later, as a groom, Nero married Sporus, a young boy, to replace the teenage female concubine he had killed and married him in a very public ceremony with all the solemnities of matrimony, after which Sporus was forced to pretend to be the female concubine that Nero had killed and act as though they were really married. A friend gave the "bride" away as required by law. The marriage was celebrated in both Greece and Rome in extravagant public ceremonies.
It should be noted, however, that conubium existed only between a civis Romanus and a civis Romana (that is, between a male Roman citizen and a female Roman citizen), so that a marriage between two Roman males (or with a slave) would have no legal standing in Roman law (apart, presumably, from the arbitrary will of the emperor in the two aforementioned cases). Furthermore, according to Susan Treggiari, "matrimonium was then an institution involving a mother, mater. The idea implicit in the word is that a man took a woman in marriage, in matrimonium ducere, so that he might have children by her." Still, the lack of legal validity notwithstanding, there is a consensus among modern historians that same-sex relationships existed in ancient Rome, though the frequency and nature of "same-sex unions" during that period are obscure.
In 342 AD, Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans issued a law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) prohibiting same-sex marriage in Rome and ordering execution for those so married.
A same-sex marriage between two men, Pedro Dias and Muño Vandilas, occurred on 16 April 1061 in the Galician municipality of Rairiz de Veiga in Spain. They were married by a priest at a small chapel. The historic documents about the church wedding were found at Monastery of San Salvador de Celanova.
In the late 16th century, French essayist and philosopher Michel de Montaigne wrote of two same-sex marriages. The first involving two women in eastern France, the second involving two men in Rome. A ceremony was held for the male couple at the Porta Latina, though was later interrupted by police who arrested 11 people present at the ceremony.
Writing in Harvard Magazine in 2013, legal historian Michael Klarman wrote that while there was a growth of gay rights activism in the 1970s United States, "Marriage equality was not then a priority." He argued that many gay people were not initially interested in marriage, deeming it to be a traditionalist institution, and that the search for legal recognition of same-sex relationships began in the late 1980s. Others, such as Faramerz Dabhoiwala writing for The Guardian, say that the modern movement began in the 1990s.
Denmark was the first country to recognize a legal relationship for same-sex couples, establishing "registered partnerships" in 1989. This gave those in same-sex relationships "most rights of married heterosexuals, but not the right to adopt or obtain joint custody of a child". In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to permit same-sex marriages. Since then same-sex marriages have been permitted and mutually recognized by Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), Denmark (2012), Brazil (2013), France (2013), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), the United Kingdom (2014), Luxembourg (2015), the United States (2015), Ireland (2015), Colombia (2016) and Finland (2017). In Mexico, same-sex marriages are performed in a number of states and recognised in all thirty-one states. In Nepal, their recognition has been judicially mandated but not yet legislated.
European Court of Human Rights
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Schalk and Kopf v Austria, a case involving an Austrian same-sex couple who were denied the right to marry. The court found that their human rights had not been violated, with a result of 3 votes for and 4 votes against.
British judge Sir Nicolas Bratza, then head of the European Court of Human Rights, delivered a speech in 2012 that signalled the court was ready to declare same-sex marriage a "human right", as soon as enough countries fell into line.
Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that: "Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right", not limiting marriage to those in a heterosexual relationship. However, the ECHR stated in Schalk and Kopf v Austria that this provision was intended to limit marriage to heterosexual relationships, as it used the term "men and women" instead of "everyone".
On 12 March 2015, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution recognising the right to marry for those of the same sex as a human and civil rights issue.
Same-sex marriage became legal (nationwide or in some parts) in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom the United States, and Uruguay.
The status of same-sex marriage is a complicated matter in a number of other nations. In Mexico marriages are recognized by all sub-national jurisdictions and by the federal government. On 3 June 2015, Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation released a "jurisprudential thesis" declaring the current purpose of marriage, which is procreation, as unconstitutional and discriminatory towards same-sex relationships. Courts nationwide must now authorize marriages between people of the same-sex through injunctions, a process slower and more expensive than opposite-sex marriage. Israel does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in its territory, but same-sex marriages performed in foreign jurisdictions are recorded strictly "for statistical purposes", thereby avoiding official recognition of same-sex marriages by the state.
On 15 July 2010, the Argentine Senate approved a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. It was supported by the Government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and opposed by the Catholic Church. Polls showed that nearly 70% of Argentines supported giving gay people the same marital rights as heterosexuals. The law came into effect on 22 July 2010 upon promulgation by the Argentine President.
Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriages when a bill passed by the Belgian Federal Parliament took effect on 1 June 2003. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions, however legislation enacted in October 2004 permits any couple to marry if at least one of the spouses has lived in the country for a minimum of three months. A 2006 statute legalized adoption by same-sex spouses.
Brazil's Supreme Court ruled in May 2011 that same-sex couples are legally entitled to legal recognition of cohabitation (known as união estável, one of the two possible family entities in Brazilian legislation, it includes all family and married couple rights in Brazil – besides automatic opt-in for one of four systems of property share and automatic right to inheritance –, and was available for all same-sex couples since the same date), turning same-sex marriage legally possible as a consequence, and just stopping short of equalization of same-sex marriage (potentially confusing, a civil marriage or casamento civil is often rendered as união civil in legal Brazilian Portuguese; a same-sex marriage is a casamento civil homoafetivo or an união civil homoafetiva).
Between mid-2011 and May 2013, same-sex couples had their cohabitation issues converted into marriage in several Brazil states with the approval of a state judge. All legal Brazilian marriages were always recognized all over Brazil.
In November 2012, the Court of Bahia equalized marriage in the state of Bahia. In December 2012, the state of São Paulo likewise had same-sex marriage allowed in demand by court order. Same-sex marriages also became equalized in relation to opposite-sex ones between January 2012 and April 2013 by court order in Alagoas, Ceará, Espírito Santo, the Federal District, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraíba, Paraná, Piauí, Rondônia, Santa Catarina and Sergipe, and in Santa Rita do Sapucaí, a municipality in Minas Gerais; in Rio de Janeiro, the State Court facilitated its realization by district judges in agreement with the equalization (instead of ordering notaries to accept same-sex marriages in demand as all others).
On 14 May 2013, the Justice's National Council of Brazil issues a ruling requiring all civil registers of the country to perform same-sex marriages by a 14–1 vote, thus legalizing same-sex marriage in the entire country. The resolution came into effect on 16 May 2013.
In March 2013, polls suggested that 47% of Brazilians supported marriage equalization and 57% supported adoption equalization for same-sex couples. Polls in June 2013 also supported the conclusion that the division of opinion between acceptance and rejection of same-sex marriage is in about equal halves. When the distinction between same-sex unions that are not termed marriages in relation to same-sex marriage is made, the difference in the numbers of approval and disapproval is still insignificant, below 1%; the most frequent reason for disapproval is a supposed 'unnaturalness' of same-sex relationships, followed by religious beliefs.
Legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Canada followed a series of constitutional challenges based on the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the first such case, Halpern v. Canada (Attorney General), same-sex marriage ceremonies performed in Ontario on 14 January 2001 were subsequently validated when the common law, mixed-sex definition of marriage was held to be unconstitutional. Similar rulings had legalized same-sex marriage in eight provinces and one territory when the 2005 Civil Marriage Act defined marriage throughout Canada as "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others."
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Colombia since April 2016. The country's Constitutional Court ruled, on 28 April 2016 that same-sex couples are allowed to enter into civil marriages in the country and that judges and notaries are barred from refusing to perform same-sex weddings. On 7 April 2016, the Court ruled that marriage doesn't only apply to opposite-sex couples. Almost all advances in relationship recognition rights for same-sex couples has come from sweeping rulings of the Court. A series of rulings by the court that started in February 2007 meant that same-sex couples could apply for all the rights that heterosexual couples have in de facto unions (uniones de hecho).
On 26 July 2011, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ordered the Congress to pass the legislation giving same-sex couples similar rights to marriage by 20 June 2013. If such a law were not passed by then, same-sex couples would be granted these rights automatically.
In October 2012, Senator Armando Benedetti introduced a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. It initially only allowed for civil unions, but he amended the text. The Senate's First Committee approved the bill on 4 December 2012. On 24 April 2013, the bill was defeated in the full Senate on a 51–17 vote.
On 24 July 2013, a civil court judge in Bogotá declared a male same-sex couple legally married, after a ruling on 11 July 2013 accepting the petition. This was the first same-sex couple married in Colombia.
In September 2013, two civil court judges married two same-sex couples. The first marriage was challenged by a conservative group, and it was initially annulled. Nevertheless, in October a High Court (Tribunal Supremo de Bogotá) maintained the validity of that marriage.
On 7 June 2012, the Folketing (Danish Parliament) approved new laws regarding same-sex civil and religious marriage. These laws permit same-sex couples to get married in the Church of Denmark. The bills received royal assent on 12 June and took effect on 15 June 2012. Denmark was previously the first country in the world to legally recognize same-sex couples through registered partnerships in 1989.
On 26 May 2015, Greenland, one of Denmark's three constituent countries in the Realm of Denmark, unanimously passed a law legalising same-sex marriage. The first same-sex couple to marry in Greenland married on 1 April 2016, the day the law went into effect.
On 17 November 2015, in the Faroe Islands, a same-sex marriage bill entered Parliament. The first reading of the bill was on 24 November 2015. The bill passed its second reading by 19 votes to 14 on 26 April 2016 and was approved at its third reading on 29 April 2016. The law still requires ratification in the Danish Parliament.
Registered partnerships have been legal in Finland since in 2002. In 2010, Minister of Justice Tuija Brax said her Ministry was preparing to amend the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage by 2012. On 27 February 2013, the bill was rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Finnish Parliament on a vote of 9–8. A citizens' initiative was launched to put the issue before the Parliament of Finland. The initiative gathered the required 50,000 signatures of Finnish citizens in one day and exceeded 107,000 signatures by the time the media reported the figures. The campaign collected 166,000 signatures and the initiative was presented to the Parliament in December 2013. The initiative went to introductory debate on 20 February 2014 and was sent again to the Legal Affairs Committee. On 25 June, the bill was rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee on a vote of 10–6 and the third time on 20 November 2014, by 9–8. It faced the first vote in full session on 28 November 2014, which passed the bill 105–92. The bill passed the second and final vote by 101–90 on 12 December 2014, and was signed by the President on 20 February 2015. The law took effect on 1 March 2017. It was the first time a citizens' initiative has been approved by the Finnish Parliament.
Following the election of François Hollande as President of France in May 2012 and the subsequent legislative election in which the Socialist party took a majority of seats in the French National Assembly, the new Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stated that a same-sex marriage bill had been drafted and would be passed. The government introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, Bill 344, in the National Assembly on 17 November 2012. Article 1 of the bill defining marriage as an agreement between two people was passed on 2 February 2013 in its first reading by a 249–97 vote. On 12 February 2013, the National Assembly approved the entire bill in a 329–229 vote.
On 12 April 2013, the upper house of the French Parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage. On 23 April 2013, the law was approved by the National Assembly in a 331–225 vote. Law No.2013-404 grants same-sex couples living in France, including foreigners provided at least one of the partners has their domicile or residence in France, the legal right to get married. The law also allows the recognition in France of same-sex couples' marriages that occurred abroad before the bill's enactment.
Following the announcement of the French Parliament's vote results, those in opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in France participated in public protests. In both Paris and Lyon, violence erupted as protesters clashed with police; the issue has mobilised right-wing forces in the country, including neo-Nazis.
The main right-wing opposition party UMP challenged the law in the Constitutional Council, which had one month to rule on whether the law conformed to the Constitution. The Constitutional Council had previously ruled that the issue of same-sex marriage was one for the Parliament to decide and there was only little hope for UMP to overturn the Parliament's vote.
On 17 May 2013, the Constitutional Council declared the bill legal in its entire redaction. President Hollande signed it into law on 18 May 2013.
Same-sex marriage was introduced in Iceland through legislation establishing a gender-neutral definition of marriage introduced by the coalition government of the Social Democratic Alliance and Left-Green Movement. The legislation was passed unanimously by the Icelandic Althing on 11 June 2010, and took effect on 27 June 2010, replacing an earlier system of registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and her partner were among the first married same-sex couples in the country.
Ireland held a referendum on 22 May 2015. The referendum proposed to add to the Irish Constitution: "marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex". The proposal approved; with 62% of voters supporting same-sex marriage. On 29 August 2015, the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, signed the result of the May referendum into law, which made Ireland the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage at a nationwide referendum. Same-sex marriage became formally legally recognised in Ireland on 16 November 2015. Prior to this, the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 allowed same sex couples to enter civil partnerships. The Act came into force on 1 January 2011 and gave same-sex couples rights and responsibilities similar to, but not equal to, those of civil marriage.
The Parliament approved a bill to legalise same-sex marriage on 18 June 2014. The law was published in the official gazette on 17 July and took effect on 1 January 2015. On 15 May 2015, Luxembourg became the first country in the EU that has a prime minister who is in a same sex marriage, and the second one in Europe. Prime minister Xavier Bettel married Gauthier Destenay, with whom he had been in a civil partnership since 2010.
Same-sex couples can marry in Mexico City and in the states of Campeche, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit and Quintana Roo as well as in some municipalities in Guerrero, Puebla, Querétaro and Tamaulipas. In individual cases, same-sex couples have been given judicial approval to marry in all other states. Since August 2010, same-sex marriages performed within Mexico are recognized by the 31 states without exception.
On 21 December 2009, the Federal District's Legislative Assembly legalized same-sex marriages and adoption by same-sex couples. The law was enacted eight days later and became effective in early March 2010. On 10 August 2010, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that while not every state must grant same-sex marriages, they must all recognize those performed where they are legal.
On 28 November 2011, the first two same-sex marriages occurred in Quintana Roo after it was discovered that Quintana Roo's Civil Code did not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage, but these marriages were later annulled by the Governor of Quintana Roo in April 2012. In May 2012, the Secretary of State of Quintana Roo reversed the annulments and allowed for future same-sex marriages to be performed in the state.
On 11 February 2014, the Congress of Coahuila approved adoptions by same-sex couples and a bill legalizing same-sex marriages passed on 1 September 2014 making Coahuila the second state to reform its Civil Code to allow for legal same-sex marriages. It took effect on 17 September, and the first couple married on 20 September.
On 12 June 2015, the Governor of Chihuahua announced that his administration would no longer oppose same-sex marriages within the state. The order was effective immediately, thus making Chihuahua the third state to legalize such unions.
On 3 June 2015, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation released a "jurisprudential thesis" which deems the state-laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutional. The ruling standardized court procedures across Mexico to authorize same-sex marriages. However, the process is still lengthy and more expensive than that for an opposite-sex marriage, as the ruling did not invalidate any state laws, meaning gay couples will be denied the right to wed and will have to turn to the courts for individual injunctions. However, given the nature of the ruling, judges and courts throughout Mexico must approve any application for a same-sex marriage. The official release of the thesis was on 19 June 2015, which took effect on 22 June 2015.
On 25 June 2015, following the Supreme Court's ruling striking down district same-sex marriage bans, the Civil Registry of Guerrero announced that they had planned a collective same-sex marriage ceremony for 10 July 2015 and indicated that there would have to be a change to the law to allow gender-neutral marriage, passed through the state Legislature before the official commencement. The registry announced more details of their plan, advising that only select registration offices in the state would be able to participate in the collective marriage event. The state Governor instructed civil agencies to approve same-sex marriage licenses. On 10 July 2015, 20 same-sex couples were married by Governor Rogelio Ortega in Acapulco. On 13 January 2016, the head of the Civil Registry of Acapulco announced that all marriages that took place on 10 July 2015 by the Governor and his wife were void and not legal as same-sex marriage is not legal in Guerrero, unless couples are granted amparo beforehand. On 13 February 2016, however, the head of Guerrero's State Civil Registry department announced that same-sex couples could marry in any of the jurisdictions that want to marry the couples and criticised Acapulco's Civil Registry and other civil registries throughout the state for not allowing these kinds of weddings.
On 17 December 2015, the Congress of Nayarit approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. In January 2016, the Mexican Supreme Court declared Jalisco's Civil Code unconstitutional for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. On 10 May 2016, the Congress of Campeche passed a same-sex marriage bill. On 18 May 2016, both Michoacán and Morelos passed bills allowing for same-sex marriage to be legal. On 25 May 2016, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Colima was approved by the state Congress.
On 17 May 2016, the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, signed an initiative to change the country's Constitution, which would legalize same-sex marriage throughout Mexico. On 9 November 2016, the Committee on Constitutional Issues of the Chamber of Deputies rejected the initiative 19 votes to 8.
The Netherlands was the first country to extend marriage laws to include same-sex couples, following the recommendation of a special commission appointed to investigate the issue in 1995. A same-sex marriage bill passed the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2000, taking effect on 1 April 2001.
In the Dutch Caribbean special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, marriage is open to same-sex couples. A law enabling same-sex couples to marry in these municipalities passed and came into effect on 10 October 2012. The Caribbean countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, forming the remainder of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, do not perform same-sex marriages, but must recognize those performed in the Netherlands proper.
On 14 May 2012, Labour Party MP Louisa Wall stated that she would introduce a private member's bill, the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, allowing same-sex couples to marry. The bill was submitted to the members' bill ballot on 30 May 2012. It was drawn from the ballot and passed the first and second readings on 29 August 2012 and 13 March 2013, respectively. The final reading passed on 17 April 2013 by 77 votes to 44. The bill received royal assent from the Governor-General on 19 April and took effect on 19 August 2013.
New Zealand marriage law only applies to New Zealand proper and the Ross Dependency in Antarctica. Other New Zealand territories, including Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, have their own marriage law and do not perform nor recognise same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway on 1 January 2009 when a gender-neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian Parliament in June 2008. Norway became the first Scandinavian country and the sixth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gender-neutral marriage replaced Norway's previous system of registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Couples in registered partnerships are able to retain that status or convert their registered partnership to a marriage. No new registered partnerships may be created.
Portugal created de facto unions (união de facto in legal European Portuguese) similar to common-law marriage for cohabiting opposite-sex partners in 1999, and extended these unions to same-sex couples in 2001. However, the 2001 extension did not allow for same-sex adoption, either jointly or of stepchildren.
On 11 February 2010, Parliament approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The Portuguese President promulgated the law on 8 April 2010 and the law was effective on 5 June 2010, making Portugal the eighth country to legalize nationwide same-sex marriage; however, adoption was still denied for same-sex couples.
On 24 February 2012, Parliament rejected two bills allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.
On 17 May 2013, the Portuguese Parliament approved a bill to recognise some adoption rights for same-sex couples in the first reading A bill granting adoption rights to same-sex parents and carers, as well as in-vitro fertilisation for lesbian relationships, was introduced in Parliament by then opposition Socialist and Left Block parties on 16 January 2015. On 22 January, Parliament rejected the proposals.
Finally in December 2015, the Portuguese Parliament approved a bill to recognise adoptions rights for same-sex couples. It came into effect in March 2016.
Legal recognition of same-sex marriages in South Africa came about as a result of the Constitutional Court's decision in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v Fourie. The court ruled on 1 December 2005 that the existing marriage laws violated the equality clause of the Bill of Rights because they discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. The court gave Parliament one year to rectify the inequality. The Civil Union Act was passed by the National Assembly on 14 November 2006, by a vote of 230 to 41. It became law on 30 November 2006. South Africa is the fifth country, the first in Africa, and the second outside Europe, to legalize same-sex marriage.
Spain was the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, which has been legal since 3 July 2005, and was supported by the majority of the Spanish people. In 2004, the nation's newly elected Socialist Government, led by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples. After much debate, the law permitting same-sex marriage was passed by the Cortes Generales (Spain's bicameral Parliament) on 30 June 2005. King Juan Carlos, who by law has up to 30 days to decide whether to grant royal assent to laws, indirectly showed his approval by signing it on 1 July 2005, the same day it reached his desk. The law was published on 2 July 2005. In 2013, Pew Research Center declared Spain the most tolerant country of the world with homosexuality. However, the studies did not include the Benelux or the Scandinavian countries.
Same-sex marriage in Sweden has been legal since 1 May 2009, following the adoption of a new, gender-neutral law on marriage by the Swedish Parliament on 1 April 2009, making Sweden the seventh country in the world to open marriage to same-sex couples nationwide. Marriage replaced Sweden's registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Existing registered partnerships between same-sex couples remained in force with an option to convert them into marriages.
Since 2005, same-sex couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships, a separate union providing the legal consequences of marriage. In 2006, the High Court rejected a legal bid by a British lesbian couple who had married in Canada to have their union recognised as a marriage in the UK rather than a civil partnership. In September 2011, the Coalition Government announced its intention to introduce same-sex civil marriage in England and Wales by the May 2015 general election. However, unlike the Scottish Government's consultation, the UK Government's consultation for England and Wales did not include provision for religious ceremonies. In May 2012, three religious groups (Quakers, Liberal Judaism and Unitarians) sent a letter to David Cameron, asking that they be allowed to solemnise same-sex weddings.
In June 2012, the UK Government completed the consultation to allow civil marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales. In its response to the consultation, the Government said that it also intended "...to enable those religious organisations that wish to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies to do so, on a permissive basis only." In December 2012, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that, whilst he favoured allowing same-sex marriage within a religious context, provision would be made guaranteeing no religious institution would be required to perform such ceremonies. On 5 February 2013, the House of Commons debated the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, approving it in a 400–175 vote at the second reading. The third reading took place on 21 May 2013, and was approved by 366 votes to 161. On 4 June 2013, the bill received its second reading in the House of Lords, after a blocking amendment was defeated by 390 votes to 148. On 15 July 2013, the bill was given a third reading by the House of Lords, meaning that it had been passed, and so it was then returned to Commons for the consideration of the Lords' amendments. On 16 July 2013, the Commons accepted all of the Lords' amendments. On 17 July 2013, the bill received royal assent becoming the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. The first same-sex marriages took place on 29 March 2014.
The Scottish Government conducted a three-month-long consultation which ended on 9 December 2011 and the analysis was published in July 2012. Unlike the consultation held in England and Wales, Scotland considered both civil and religious same-sex marriage. Whilst the Scottish Government is in favour of same-sex marriage, it stated that no religious body would be forced to hold such ceremonies once legislation is enacted. The Scottish consultation received more than 77,000 responses, and on 27 June 2013 the Government published the bill. In order to preserve the freedom of both religious groups and individual clergy, the Scottish Government believed it necessary for changes to be made to the Equality Act 2010 and communicated with the UK Government on this matter; thus, the first same-sex marriages in Scotland did not occur until this had taken place. Although the Scottish bill concerning same-sex marriage had been published, the 'Australian' reported that LGBT rights campaigners, celebrating outside the UK Parliament on 15 July 2013 for the clearance of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Lords, declared that they would continue the campaign to extend same-sex marriage rights to both Scotland and Northern Ireland, rather than solely Northern Ireland, where there are no plans to introduce such legislation. On 4 February 2014, the Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly passed legislation legalising same-sex marriage. The bill received royal assent as the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 on 12 March 2014. The law took effect on 16 December 2014, with the first same-sex weddings occurring for those converting their civil partnerships into marriage. Malcolm Brown and Joe Schofield from Tullibody were scheduled to be the first to be declared husband and husband just after midnight on 31 December, following a Humanist ceremony, but they were superseded by couples marrying on 16 December. Nonetheless, Brown and Schofield were married on Hogmanay.
The Northern Ireland Executive has stated that it does not intend to introduce legislation allowing for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions are treated as civil partnerships.
The movement to obtain civil marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples in the United States began in the 1970s. and in 1971 the United States Supreme Court dismissed a case, Baker v. Nelson claiming such right on appeal, establishing it as a precedent as it came from mandatory appellate review. The issue did not become prominent in U.S. politics until the 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision in Baehr v. Lewin that declared that state's prohibition to be unconstitutional. During the 21st century, public support for same-sex marriage has grown considerably, and national polls conducted since 2011 show that a majority of Americans support legalizing it. On 17 May 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state and the sixth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex marriage following the Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health six months earlier.
Before the legalization of same-sex marriage in any U.S. jurisdiction, the U.S. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, attempting to define marriage for the first time solely as a union between a man and a woman for all federal purposes, and allowing states to refuse to recognize such marriages created in other states.
President Barack Obama announced on 9 May 2012, that "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married". Obama also supported the full repeal of DOMA, and called the state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in California (2008) and North Carolina (2012) unnecessary. In 2011, the Obama Administration concluded that DOMA was unconstitutional and directed the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) to stop defending the law in court. Subsequently, Eric Cantor, Republican majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, announced that the House would defend DOMA. The law firm hired to represent the House soon withdrew from defending the law, requiring the House to retain replacement counsel. In the past two decades, public support for same-sex marriage has steadily increased, and polls indicate that more than half of Americans support same-sex marriage. Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage by referendum on 6 November 2012.
On 26 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional for allowing the federal government of the United States to deny federal recognition of same-sex marriage licenses, if it is recognized or performed in a state that allows same-sex marriage. Two years later on the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state level bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional as well, legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the entire U.S. proper and all incorporated territories.
On 6 October 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of five writ petitions from decisions of appellate courts finding constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The immediate effect was to increase to 25 the number of states allowing same-sex marriage.
On 26 June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in Obergefell v. Hodges that states cannot prohibit the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or to deny recognition of lawfully performed out-of-state marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This ruling invalidated same-sex marriage bans in any U.S. State and certain territories. Prior to this ruling, same-sex marriages were legally performed in 37 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam as well as some Native American tribes.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at a same-sex wedding during the 2013 Labor Day weekend in what is believed to be a first for a member of the Supreme Court.
A poll conducted in 2014 showed a record high of 59% of the American people supporting legal recognition for same-sex marriage.
Uruguay's Chamber of Deputies passed a bill on 12 December 2012, to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Senate passed the bill on 2 April 2013, but with minor amendments. On 10 April 2013, the Chamber of Deputies passed the amended bill by a two-thirds majority (71–22). The president promulgated the law on 3 May 2013 and it took effect on 5 August.
On 31 March 2014, the Social Democratic Party introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. On 29 May 2014, the bill was rejected by Parliament.
Australian federal law currently bans recognition of same-sex marriages. Civil unions/partnerships are available in the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland, while domestic registered partnerships are available in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Western Australia and the Northern Territory both only offer de facto unions for same-sex couples, and committed same-sex couples in all states and territories are recognised as de facto unions (which provide most of the benefits and recognition of marriage) under federal law.
On 22 October 2013, a bill was passed by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) legalising same-sex marriage in the ACT. However, the High Court found that the change was never valid and an official reversal of the bill was announced on 12 December 2013. The High Court established that such a change to ACT legislation could not operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act.
As of September 2016, 21 same-sex marriage related bills have been introduced in the Parliament of Australia, none of which have passed and become law. The Coalition Government, narrowly re-elected at the July 2016 federal election, pledged to hold a plebiscite on the issue in early 2017, with the question being put to the Australian people, rather than being resolved by the parliament. The opposition Labor Party supports same-sex marriage but lobbies for a parliamentary conscience vote on same-sex marriage legislation. This resulted in the two parties coming to loggerheads and with the Labor party refusing to back a plebiscite, and Coalition refusing to allow a parliamentary conscience vote, thus resulting in a stalemate on the issue for the time being.
On 20 November 2013, the opposition party The Greens introduced a bill in Parliament that would legalise same-sex marriage. It was sent to the Judiciary Committee on 17 December 2013. The bill was supposed to be debated in Autumn 2014, but was delayed by the ruling coalition.
In December 2015, the Vienna Administrative Court dismissed a case challenging the same-sex marriage ban. The plaintiffs appealed to the Constitutional Court, which is expected to rule in late 2016.
The national debate on same-sex marriage in Bermuda started around the introduction of sexual orientation to the British Overseas Dependent Territory's (BODT) Human Rights Act of 1981. This happened in 2013, prompted by calls from an advocacy group call Two Words and a Comma. This addition started a movement in support of marriage equality in the BODT. Churches in Bermuda formed an alliance to petition the government to be permitted to discriminate against the LGBT community, with their concerns including that not doing so might lead to legalization of same-sex marriage. The group Preserve Marriage was created with the position "that marriage in Bermuda should remain defined and upheld as a special union ordained by God between a man and a woman." This group lobbied the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) into tabling changes to the Matrimonial Act to "strengthen" the notion that marriage is between one man and one woman; a change that the Bermuda Human Rights Commission (BHRC) says will "undermine the integrity of the Human Rights Act.” Also, the OBA has called for a non-binding referendum to get national consensus on the question of marriage equality. The response from the BHRC was:
We specifically reject the notion that the opinion of the majority should impinge on the right of equal treatment for minorities. We are also disappointed that the decision to hold a referendum will serve to lengthen the timeline by which the Government can fulfill its obligations to its citizens who deserve equality under the law.
A non-binding referendum on both same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions took place on 23 June 2016, and while a majority voted against both same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions, there was not a high enough voter turnout for the referendum to be valid. Following the referendum, two same-sex couples promised to go to the courts if they are not allowed to wed. The Bermuda Supreme Court is expected to rule on a same-sex couple’s case, which seeks to allow them to marry, before 4 November 2016.
Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, who was elected to a second term in March 2014, has promised to work for the implementation of same-sex marriage and has a majority in both houses of Congress. Previously, she said, "Marriage equality, I believe we have to make it happen." Polling shows majority support for same-sex marriage among Chileans.
On 10 December 2014, a group of senators, from various parties, joined LGBT rights group MOVILH (Homosexual Movement of Integration and Liberation) in presenting a bill to allow same-sex marriage and adoption to Congress. MOVILH has been in talks with the Chilean Government to seek an amiable solution to the pending marriage lawsuit brought against the state before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. MOVILH has suggested that they would drop the case if Bachelet's Congress keeps their promise to legislate same-sex marriage. President Bachelet stated before a United Nations General Assembly panel in September 2016 that the Chilean Government would submit a same-sex marriage bill to Congress in the first half of 2017.
Meanwhile, on 28 January 2015, the National Congress approved a bill recognizing civil unions for same-sex and opposite-sex couples offering some of the rights of marriage. Bachelet signed the bill on 14 April, and it came into effect on 22 October.
A poll carried out during September 2015 by the pollster Cadem Plaza Pública found that 60% of Chileans support same-sex marriage, whilst 36% are against it.
The Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China explicitly defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. No other form of civil union is recognized. The attitude of the Chinese Government towards homosexuality is believed to be "three nos": "No approval; no disapproval; no promotion." The Ministry of Health officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 2001.
Li Yinhe, a sociologist and sexologist well known in the Chinese gay community, has tried to legalize same-sex marriage several times, including during the National People's Congress in 2000 and 2004 (Legalization for Same-Sex Marriage 《中国同性婚姻合法化》 in 2000 and the Same-Sex Marriage Bill 《中国同性婚姻提案》 in 2004). According to Chinese law, 35 delegates' signatures are needed to make an issue a bill to be discussed in the Congress. Her efforts failed due to lack of support from the delegates. CPPCC National Committee spokesman Wu Jianmin when asked about Li Yinhe's proposal, said that same-sex marriage was still too "ahead of its time" for China. He argued that same-sex marriage was not recognized even in many Western countries, which are considered much more liberal in social issues than China. This statement is understood as an implication that the Government may consider recognition of same-sex marriage in the long run, but not in the near future.
On 5 January 2016, a court in Changsha, southern Hunan Province, agreed to hear the lawsuit of 26-year-old Sun Wenlin filed in December 2015 against the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Furong District for its June 2015 refusal to let him marry his 36-year-old male partner, Hu Mingliang. On 13 April 2016, with hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters outside, the Changsha court ruled against Sun, who vowed to appeal, citing the importance of his case for LGBT progress in China.
On 19 March 2015, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage was introduced to the Legislative Assembly by Deputy Ligia Elena Fallas Rodríguez from the Broad Front. On 10 December 2015, the organization Front for Equal Rights (Frente Por los Derechos Igualitarios) and a group of deputies presented another bill.
On 10 February 2016, the Constitutional Court of Costa Rica announced it would hear a case seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the country and declare the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.
On 13 August 2013, a same-sex couple filed a lawsuit before the Supreme Court of Ecuador asking that the country's same-sex marriage ban be declared unconstitutional.
In August 2016, a lawyer in El Salvador filed a lawsuit before the country's Supreme Court asking for the nullification of Article 11 of the Family Code which defines marriage as a heterosexual union. Labeling the law as discriminatory and explaining the lack of gendered terms used in Article 34 of the Constitution’s summary of a marriage, the lawsuit seeks to allow same-sex couples the right to wed.
In 2016, a man filed a challenge against the same-sex marriage ban, arguing that while the Civil Code of Georgia states that marriage is explicitly between a man and a woman; the Constitution does not reference gender in its section on marriage.
Since 1 August 2001, Germany has registered partnerships (Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft) for same-sex couples, providing most but not all rights of marriage. In 2004, this act was amended to include adoption rights (stepchild adoption only) and to reform previously cumbersome dissolution procedures with regard to division of property and alimony. Attempts to give equal rights to registered partners or to legalize same-sex marriage have generally been blocked by the CDU/CSU, the main party in government since 2005. All other main parties (SPD, The Greens, The Left and FDP) support full LGBT equality. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany has issued various rulings in favor of equal rights for same-sex registered partners (such as joint tax filing benefits), requiring the governing coalition to change the law.
Same-sex marriage is not explicitly prohibited under Indian law and at least one couple has had their marriage recognised by the courts. In April 2014, Medha Patkar of the Aam Aadmi Party stated that her party supports the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Israel's High Court of Justice ruled to recognize foreign same-sex marriages for the limited purpose of registration with the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, however this is merely for statistical purposes and grants no state-level rights; Israel does not recognize civil marriages performed under its own jurisdiction. A bill was raised in the Knesset (parliament) to rescind the High Court's ruling, but the Knesset has not advanced the bill since December 2006. A bill to legalize same-sex and interfaith civil marriages was defeated in the Knesset, 39–11, on 16 May 2012.
In November 2015, the National LGBT Taskforce of Israel petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel to allow same-sex marriage in the country, arguing that the refusal of the rabbinical court to recognise same-sex marriage should not prevent civil courts from performing same-sex marriages. The court did not immediately rule against the validity of the petition.
On 9 April 2014, the Civil Court of Grosseto ordered that a same-sex marriage contracted abroad be recognised in the municipality.
The cities of Bologna, Naples and Fano began recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions in July 2014, followed by Empoli, Pordenone, Udine and Trieste in September, and Florence, Piombino, Milan and Rome in October, and by Bagheria in November. Other cities that are considering similar laws include Cagliari, Livorno, Syracuse, Pompei and Treviso.
A January 2013 Datamonitor poll found that 54.1% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage. A May 2013 Ipsos poll found that 42% of Italians supported allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. An October 2014 Demos poll found that 55% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, with 42% against.
On 25 February 2016, the Italian Senate passed a bill allowing civil unions with 173 senators in favour and 73 against. That same bill was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 11 May 2016 with 372 deputies in favour and 51 against. The President of Italy signed the bill into law on 22 May 2016 and the law went into effect on 5 June 2016.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan. Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution states that "Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis." Article 24 was created to establish the equality of both sexes in marriage, in opposition to the pre-war legal situation whereby the husband/father was legally defined as the head of household and marriage require permission from the male head of the family. The wording, however, inadvertently defined marriage as the union of man and woman.
51% of the Japanese population supports same-sex marriage, according to the latest poll carried out in 2015.
On 27 May 2016, the Constitutional Court of Latvia overturned an administrative court decision which refused an application to register a same-sex marriage in the country. A Supreme Court press spokeswoman said that the court agrees with the administrative court that current regulations do not allow for same-sex marriages to be legally performed in Latvia. However, the matter should have been considered in a context not of marriage, but of registering familial partnership. Furthermore, it would have been impossible to conclude whether the applicants' rights were violated or not unless their claim is accepted and reviewed in a proper manner. The Supreme Court will now decide whether the refusal was in breach of the Latvian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Malta has recognized same-sex unions since April 2014, following the enactment of the Civil Unions Bill, first introduced in September 2013. It established civil unions with same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as marriage, including the right of joint adoption and recognition of foreign same sex marriage. Parliament gave final approval to the legislation on 14 April 2014 by a vote of 37 in favour and 30 abstentions. President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca signed it into law on 16 April. The first foreign same sex marriage was registered on 29 April 2014 and the first civil union was performed on 14 June 2014.
On 21 February 2017, the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties Helena Dalli said that she is preparing a bill to legalise same-sex marriage.
In November 2008, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued final judgment on matters related to LGBT rights, which included permitting same-sex couples to marry. Same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities were to be included in the new Nepalese Constitution required to be completed by 31 May 2012. However, the Legislature was unable to agree on the Constitution before the deadline and was dissolved after the Supreme Court ruled that the term could not be extended.
In October 2016, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare constituted a committee for the purpose of preparing a draft bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
On 17 October 2016, a married same-sex couple filed an action of unconstitutionality against Article 26 of the Panamanian Civil Code, seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the country. In early November, the case was admitted to the Supreme Court.
Same-sex marriages and civil unions are currently not recognized by the state, the illegal insurgent Communist Party of the Philippines performs same-sex marriages in territories under its control since 2005.
In October 2016, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines Pantaleon Alvarez announced he will file a civil union bill in Congress.
In Poland, the national debate regarding recognition of same-sex marriage is conducted along the debate about civil partnerships. In a 2013 opinion poll conducted by CBOS, 72% of Poles were against same-sex marriage.
As of October 2016, a lawsuit initiated by a Romanian man seeking to have his marriage to an American man recognised is ongoing. The Constitutional Court is hearing the case and is consulting with the European Court of Justice on the matter, with a hearing in the case set for late March 2017.
Slovenia recognises registered partnerships for same-sex couples.
In December 2014, the eco-socialist United Left party introduced a bill amending expansion of the definition of marriage in the 1976 Marriage and Family Relations Act to include same-sex couples. In January 2015, the Government expressed no opposition to the bill. In February 2015, the bill was passed with 11 votes to 2. In March, the Assembly passed the bill in a 51–28 vote. On 10 March 2015, the National Council rejected a motion to require the Assembly to vote on the bill again, in a 14–23 vote. Opponents of the bill launched a petition for a referendum and managed to collect 40,000 signatures. Then Parliament voted to block the referendum with a clarification that it would be against the Slovenian Constitution to vote about matters concerning human rights. Finally the Constitutional Court ruled against the banning of the referendum (5–4) and the referendum was to be held on 20 December 2015.
In the referendum, 63.4% of the voters voted against the law, rendering Parliament's same-sex marriage act invalid.
In July 2015, Kim Jho Kwang-soo and his partner, Kim Seung-Hwan, filed a lawsuit seeking legal status for their marriage after their marriage registration form was rejected by the local authorities in Seoul. On 25 May 2016, a South Korean district court ruled against the couple and argued that without clear legislation a same-sex union can not be recognized as a marriage. The couple quickly filed an appeal against the district court ruling. Their lawyer, Ryu Min-Hee, announced that two more same-sex couples had filed separate lawsuits in order to be allowed to wed. In December 2016, a South Korean appeals court upheld the district court ruling. The couple vowed to bring the case to the Supreme Court of South Korea.
A same-sex marriage bill is pending in Parliament after the Green Liberal Party of Switzerland, in December 2013, opposed a Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland's initiative banning same-sex marriage. The Committee for Legal Affairs of the National Council approved this parliamentary initiative by 12:1 and 1 abstention on 20 February 2015. On 1 September 2015, the upper house's Legal Affairs Committee voted 7 to 5 to proceed with the initiative. The National Council's Legal Affairs Committee can now draft an act.
In a poll in June 2013 for ifop, 63% approved same-sex marriage. After the National Council's Committee of Law Affairs' decision to approve same-sex marriage, two opinion polls released on 22 February 2015 showed a support of 54% (Léger Marketing for Blick) and 71% (GfS Zürich for SonntagsZeitung) allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.
In March 2015, the Swiss Federal Council released a governmental report about marriage and new rights for families. It opens the possibility to introduce registered partnerships for different-sex couples as well as same-sex marriage for same-sex couples. The Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga in charge of the Federal Department of Justice and Police also stated she hoped personally that same-sex couples would soon be allowed to marry.
The Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland (CVP/PDC) started in 2011 with gathering signatures for a popular initiative entitled "For the couple and the family - No to the penalty of marriage". This initiative would change article 14 of the Swiss Federal Constitution and aimed to put equal fiscal rights and equal social security benefits between married couples and unmarried cohabiting couples. However, the text aimed to introduce as well in the Constitution for the first time ever the definition of marriage, which would be the sole "union between a man and a woman". On 19 June 2015, the Parliament recommending voters to reject the initiative. The Federal Council also recommended rejecting the initiative. The Swiss people voted on the Christian Democrats' proposal in a referendum on 28 February 2016 and rejected it by 50.8% of the votes.
On 22 December 2014, a proposed amendment to the Civil Code which would legalize same-sex marriage was due to go under review by the Judiciary Committee. If the amendment passes the committee stage it will then be voted on at the plenary session of the Legislative Yuan in 2015. The amendment, called the marriage equality amendment, would insert neutral terms into the Civil Code replacing ones that imply heterosexual marriage, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage. It would also allow same-sex couples to adopt children. Yu Mei-nu of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who is the convener of the current legislative session, has expressed support for the amendment as have more than 20 other DPP lawmakers as well as two from the Taiwan Solidarity Union and one each from the Kuomintang and the People First Party. Taiwan would become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage if the Civil Code is amended.
A poll carried out between August and October 2015 found that 71% of the Taiwanese population supports same-sex marriage. Tsai Ing-wen, the President of Taiwan since May 2016, announced her support of same-sex marriage in November 2015. In October 2016, two same-sex marriage bills were introduced before the Legislative Yuan. Subsequently, protests have been staged by groups opposing and by groups supporting legalization.
A same-sex-marriage bill before the Thai Parliament has bipartisan support, but as of April 2014 has been stalled due to the political crisis in the country. In the second half of 2014, reports emerged that a draft bill called the Civil Partnership Act will be submitted to the junta-appointed Thai Parliament.
In the process of rewriting the Turkish Constitution, the opposition party BDP called for the liberalization of marriage policies to include same-sex marriage. The largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, CHP, supported the idea. The largest party in parliament, the AKP, opposes same-sex marriage, although Premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the leader of the AKP, supported full equal rights for LGBT citizens in 2002, the year he launched his party. In response to a request from BDP, a parliamentary discussion of same-sex marriage is anticipated when all political parties gather in committees to establish a new constitution. In 2013, a poll of Turkish attitudes towards sexuality, 3.6% of Turks supported same-sex marriages. In 2015, research revealed that 80% of the Turkish population is against same-sex marriage.
In April 2016, the Supreme Court announced it would hear a lawsuit which seeks to declare Article 44 of the Civil Code unconstitutional for outlawing same-sex marriage.
In Vietnam, currently only a marriage between a man and a woman is recognized. Vietnam's Ministry of Justice began seeking advice on legalizing same-sex marriage from other governmental and non-governmental organizations in April and May 2012, and planned to further discuss the issue at the National Assembly in Spring 2013. However, in February 2013, the Ministry of Justice requested that the National Assembly avoid action until 2014. At a hearing to discuss marriage law reforms in April 2013, deputy minister of health Nguyen Viet Tien proposed that same-sex marriage be made legal immediately.
The Vietnamese Government abolished an administrative fine imposed on same-sex weddings in 2013. The policy was enacted on 11 November 2013. The 100,000–500,000 VND ($24USD) fine will be abolished. Although same-sex marriages are not permitted in Vietnam, the policy will decriminalize the relationship, habitual privileges such as household registry, property, child raising, and co-habitual partnerships are recognized.
In June 2013, the National Assembly began formal debate on a proposal to establish legal recognition for same-sex marriage. On 24 September 2013, the Government issued the decree abolishing the fines on same-sex marriages. The decree took effect on 11 November 2013. On 27 May 2014, the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs removed the provision giving legal status and some rights to cohabiting same-sex couples from the Government's bill to amend the Law on Marriage and Family. The bill was approved by the National Assembly on 19 June 2014.
On 1 January 2015, the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family officially went into effect. It states that while Vietnam allows same-sex weddings, it will not offer legal recognition or protection to unions between people of the same sex.
The terms of employment of the staff of international organizations (not commercial) in most cases are not governed by the laws of the country where their offices are located. Agreements with the host country safeguard these organizations' impartiality.
Despite their relative independence, few organizations recognize same-sex partnerships without condition. The agencies of the United Nations recognize same-sex marriages if and only if the country of citizenship of the employees in question recognizes the marriage. In some cases, these organizations do offer a limited selection of the benefits normally provided to mixed-sex married couples to de facto partners or domestic partners of their staff, but even individuals who have entered into a mixed-sex civil union in their home country are not guaranteed full recognition of this union in all organizations. However, the World Bank does recognize domestic partners.
Civil union, civil partnership, domestic partnership, registered partnership, unregistered partnership, and unregistered cohabitation statuses offer varying legal benefits of marriage. As of March 2017, countries that have an alternative form of legal recognition other than marriage on a national level are: Andorra, Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan (various cities), Liechtenstein, Mexico (Tlaxcala), the Netherlands (Aruba), San Marino, Slovenia, Switzerland, Taiwan (all special municipalities and some counties and provincial cities) and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland and Jersey). Malta has established civil unions with the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, differing only in name. Additionally, thirteen countries which have legalized same-sex marriage still have an alternative form of legal recognition for same-sex couples: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
They are also available in parts of the United States (California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin). In some countries with these legal recognitions, the actual benefits are minimal. Many people consider civil unions, even those that grant equal rights, inadequate because they create a separate status, and believe they should be replaced by gender-neutral marriage.
Female same-sex marriage is practiced among the Gikuyu, Nandi, Kamba, Kipsigis, and to a lesser extent neighboring peoples. Approximately 5–10% of women are in such marriages. However, this is not seen as homosexual, but is instead a way for families without sons to keep their inheritance within the family. The laws criminalizing homosexuality are generally specific to men, though in 2010 the prime minister called for women to be arrested as well.
In Nigeria, homosexual activity between men, but not between women, is illegal. In 2006, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced legislation that prohibits same-sex marriages and criminalizes anyone who "performs, witnesses, aids or abets" such ceremonies. Among the Igbo people and probably other peoples in the south of the country, there are circumstances where a marriage between women is considered appropriate, such as when a woman has no child and her husband dies, and she takes a wife to perpetuate her inheritance and family lineage.
While few societies have recognized same-sex unions as marriages, the historical and anthropological record reveals a large range of attitudes towards same-sex unions ranging from praise, through full acceptance and integration, sympathetic toleration, indifference, prohibition and discrimination, to persecution and physical annihilation. Opponents of same-sex marriages have argued that same-sex marriage, while doing good for the couples that participate in them and the children they are raising, undermines a right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father. Some supporters of same-sex marriages take the view that the government should have no role in regulating personal relationships, while others argue that same-sex marriages would provide social benefits to same-sex couples. The debate regarding same-sex marriages includes debate based upon social viewpoints as well as debate based on majority rules, religious convictions, economic arguments, health-related concerns, and a variety of other issues.
Scientific literature indicates that parents' financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally recognized union (either a mixed-sex or same-sex union). As a result, professional scientific associations have argued for same-sex marriage to be legally recognized as it will be beneficial to the children of same-sex parents or carers.
Scientific research has been generally consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents. According to scientific literature reviews, there is no evidence to the contrary.
All states that allow same-sex marriage also allow the joint adoption of children by people of the same sex, with the exceptions of Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit and Quintana Roo in Mexico. In addition, Andorra, Austria, Israel and Malta as well as several subnational jurisdictions which do not recognize same-sex marriage nonetheless permit joint adoption by unmarried same-sex couples: the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia in Australia, Veracruz in Mexico as well as Bermuda and Jersey in the United Kingdom. Some additional states allow stepchild adoption by those who are in a same-sex relationship but are unmarried: Croatia, Germany, Estonia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
More than 16,000 same-sex couples are raising an estimated 22,000 adopted children in the United States. Same-sex couples are raising 4% of all adopted children in the United States.
A gay or bisexual man has the option of surrogacy, the process in which a woman bears a child for another person through artificial insemination or carries another woman's surgically implanted fertilized egg to birth. A lesbian or bisexual woman has the option of artificial insemination.
When sex is defined legally, it may be defined by any one of several criteria: the XY sex-determination system, the type of gonads, the type of external sexual features, or the person's social identification. Consequently, both transgender and intersex individuals may be legally categorized into confusing gray areas, and could be prohibited from marrying partners of the "opposite" sex or permitted to marry partners of the "same" sex due to legal distinctions. This could result in long-term marriages, as well as recent same-sex marriages, being overturned.
The problems of defining gender by the existence/non-existence of gonads or certain sexual features is complicated by the existence of surgical methods to alter these features. Estimates run as high as one percent of live births exhibiting some degree of sexual ambiguity, and between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births being ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including sometimes involuntary surgery to address their sexual ambiguity.
In any legal jurisdiction where marriages are defined without distinction of a requirement of a male and female, these complications do not occur. In addition, some legal jurisdictions recognize a legal and official change of gender, which would allow a transgender male or female to be legally married in accordance with an adopted gender identity.
In the United Kingdom, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows a person who has lived in their chosen gender for at least two years to receive a gender recognition certificate officially recognizing their new gender. Because in the United Kingdom marriages were until recently only for mixed-sex couples and civil partnerships are only for same-sex couples, a person must dissolve his/her civil partnership before obtaining a gender recognition certificate, and the same was formerly true for marriages in England and Wales, and still is in other territories. Such people are then free to enter or re-enter civil partnerships or marriages in accordance with their newly recognized gender identity. In Austria, a similar provision requiring transsexual people to divorce before having their legal sex marker corrected was found to be unconstitutional in 2006.
In Quebec, prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, only unmarried people could apply for legal change of gender. With the advent of same-sex marriage, this restriction was dropped. A similar provision including sterilization also existed in Sweden, but was phased out in 2013.
In the United States, transgender and intersex marriages typically run into similar complications. As definitions and enforcement of marriage are defined by the states, these complications vary from state to state, as some of them prohibit legal changes of gender.
In the United States of America before the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, couples in same-sex marriages could only obtain a divorce in jurisdictions that recognized same-sex marriages, with some exceptions.
Religion plays a prominent role in discourse about same-sex marriage, and several religious organizations and churches have expressed a range of official positions. Religious views on same-sex marriage are closely related to religious views on homosexuality. While the majority of world religions stand in opposition, the number of denominations accepting and conducting same-sex marriages has increased in the 2000s and 2010s.
Among Christians, the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and various Protestant denominations, such as Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses, take official positions opposing same-sex marriage. Some Protestant groups, like the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Church of Christ, and some Catholic ones, such as the Old Catholic Church (US Province), support allowing those of the same sex to marry or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. Some individual churches have committed to marriage equality in opposition to their denominations' stances. In 2016, a survey found that 64% of white mainline Protestants in the United States favor allowing gays and lesbians to legally wed.
The vast majority of traditional Muslim scholars believe Shariah law opposes same-sex marriage and condemns same-sex sex. This is also the dominant view in modern Muslim societies, though, historically and culturally, same-sex sex often has been and is engaged in or celebrated. Some Muslims in the West now argue that homosexuality is allowed by Shariah law. Most Orthodox Jewish leaders oppose same-sex marriage, while Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Jewish rabbinical groups affirm its validity. Though Buddhism is considered to be ambivalent on the subject as a whole, particular Buddhists have supported marriage equality, as do a variety of other religious traditions.
One source of controversy is whether same-sex marriage affects freedom of religion. Some religious organizations may refuse to provide employment, public accommodations, adoption services, and other benefits to same-sex couples. Some governments include freedom of religion provisions in marriage equality laws.
There are differing positions regarding the manner in which same-sex marriage has been introduced into democratic jurisdictions. A "majority rules" position holds that same-sex marriage is valid, or void and illegal, based upon whether it has been accepted by a simple majority of voters or of their elected representatives. In contrast, a civil rights view holds that the institution can be validly created through the ruling of an impartial judiciary carefully examining the questioning and finding that the right to marry regardless of the gender of the participants is guaranteed under the civil rights laws of the jurisdiction.