Same-sex marriage rights around the world

Thursday, 2 July 2020 17:27 GMT
Thirty two United Nations member states legally recognise same-sex couples

By Darnell Christie, Sonia Elks and Rachel Savage

LONDON, July 2 (Openly) - Montenegro is the first European country outside western Europe and the European Union to legally recognise same-sex couples.

On July 1, just over half of lawmakers in the Balkan country, which has a population of about 620,000 people, voted to grant gay and lesbian couples a form of civil partnership.

With 32 United Nations member states legally recognising same-sex couples, here are some key facts about their rights around the world:

* Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to give the go-ahead to same-sex marriages in May, when a landmark constitutional court ruling came into effect.

* The first country to legalise same-sex marriage was the Netherlands in 2001.

* Same-sex marriage is legal in 28 U.N. member states: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and the United States.

* A total of 32 U.N. states recognise some form of civil partnership for same-sex couples.

* Northern Ireland became the last part of the United Kingdom to introduce equal marriage rights in February 2020.

* Ecuador, Taiwan and Austria legalised gay marriage in 2019.

* Taiwan was the first place in Asia to allow gay marriages. Drives for that right to be granted in China and Japan have faced stiff opposition.

* In Africa, where homosexuality is a crime in many countries and can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty, South Africa alone allows for same-sex marriage.

* Gay marriage is hotly contested among many religious groups. Leaders of the United Methodist Church announced proposals to split the church into two amid deep disputes over the issue.

* Almost one in three adults globally believe people of the same sex should be allowed to marry, a survey of almost 100,000 people in 65 countries showed in 2016.

Sources: ILGA State-Sponsored Homophobia report, Pew Research Centre, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Reuters 

Related stories:

Montenegro legalises same-sex civil partnerships

Costa Rica allows same-sex marriages in a first for Central America

FACTBOX - Andorra set to become latest nation to legalise gay marriage

(Reporting by Darnell Christie @darnellchristie, Sonia Elks @SoniaElks and Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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