President Barack Obama's announcement that he now supports same-sex marriage has set off a new round of debate in the U.S. over the issue. His support comes on the heels of North Carolina voting to implement a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
But where around the world is same-sex marriage legal, where is legislation likely to happen next and and where is it criminalized?
The first same-sex couples walked down the aisle in the Netherlands in 2001. Since then, almost a dozen countries have followed in passing laws allowing same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Belgium and Spain. Nearly 20 other countries offer some rights to same-sex couples but stop short of marriage – including France, Germany and the UK.
After becoming the first country to legalize same-sex unions in 1989, Denmark is close to doing the same for same-sex marriages. And Nepal, a country that only legalized same sex unions in 2008, has appointed a committee to develop laws on same-sex marriages.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he supports their legalization in the UK, where authorities are currently consulting on the issue, having permitted civil partnerships since 2005.
Australia is one of many countries around the world where same-sex couples are not permitted to legally marry. A bill that calls for the legalization of gay marriage was submitted to parliament but is not getting much support, especially from the country's leader. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who has long opposed gay marriage, made it clear Thursday that her mind hadn't changed in light of Obama's announcement and she would not support the bill.
And in a number of places, homosexuality – let alone same-sex marriage – is considered illegal.
According to a report released in May 2011 by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, same-sex relations are still criminalized in 76 countries, and in five of those countries the death penalty can be applied (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania and Sudan).
Here's the full list of where same-sex marriage is legal (and year the law passed):
Argentina – 2010
Belgium – 2003
Brazil – 2011
Canada – 2005
Iceland – 2010
Netherlands – 2001
Norway – 2008
Portugal – 2010
South Africa – 2006
Spain – 2005
Sweden – 2009
What's your take? How is the U.S. debate on the issue different or the same as other parts of the world? Submit an iReport or share your comments below.