By Rachel Savage
LONDON, Oct 21 (Openly) - Pope Francis endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples in a new film released on Wednesday, intensifying the global debate around gay and lesbian relationships, which have no legal recognition in most countries.
The leader of the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage, but said in an interview for a new documentary that he backed civil unions to ensure same-sex couples can be legally recognised.
Here are some key facts on the rights of same-sex couples around the world:
- A total of 32 countries recognise some form of civil partnership for same-sex couples.
- The first country to legalise same-sex marriage was the Netherlands in 2001.
- Same-sex marriage is legal in 28 countries: 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.
- 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.
- 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. - 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.
- In July Montenegro became the first European country outside western Europe and the European Union to legally recognise same-sex couples. - Northern Ireland became the last part of the United Kingdom to introduce equal marriage rights in February 2020.
Sources: ILGA State-Sponsored Homophobia report, Pew Research Centre, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Reuters
(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Claire Cozens. 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 http://news.trust.org)
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