Same-sex marriage around the world
May 10th, 2012
11:33 AM ET

Same-sex marriage around the world

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.

More: Campaigners push for marriage equality worldwide

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.

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Topics: Politics

soundoff (355 Responses)
  1. Richard

    When anyone can explain why my marriage to my same gender partner is their personal business, I will listen to their reasons why they are against it. But, not until then. So, would anyone like to explain why my marriage to my same-gender partner is any of their business? Anyone?

    May 14, 2012 at 7:53 am | Reply
    • marlot

      there is a design to the world that is plain to see, anyone who soberly looks at boys being with boys can surely understand why this is not by natural design, things that go against design is called sin, sin should never be embraced as not sin, sin is rebellion agaist a good created order.
      It is not me judging you, it is a judgment that has already been made, and in the here and now it will affect our whole land negitively, it is not jjust about you

      May 14, 2012 at 10:08 am | Reply
      • s p mount

        So by your reckoning, those billions who were designed by... I take it, what you consider to be 'an almighty creator'... in order to be able to think otherwise in such a perfect scenario, must also, therefore, have been designed by a sinner?

        February 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  2. Richard

    Why are clowns with imaginary friends so mean-spirited that they would march en masse into voting booths all over the US to stomp on the civil rights of their fellow taxpaying citiizens?

    May 14, 2012 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • Matthew

      What Civil Rights? I don't think getting married is a civil right when you have Civil Unions already. They are basically the same thing with different names. One indicates a relationship based on tradition, logic, and religion (marriage) and one represents a group of people fighting against nature and sanity (gay civil unions). Still same thing legally though.

      May 14, 2012 at 9:51 am | Reply
  3. areacode612


    May 14, 2012 at 8:09 am | Reply
  4. Rupert Cubki

    it really seems to me as if whoever screens the comments is a gay hater.
    Some of what can be read here is definite gay-bashing/bullying material and in no way "courteous".

    May 14, 2012 at 8:49 am | Reply
  5. DONNY

    well for one.. its not right for a man to be with a man or woman to be with a woman.dont mater how u feel bout it. it just makes the world look bad is all. IM IN MY 50S I NOT SEEN 2 MEN TOGHTER OR 2 WOMAN. AND PRAY THAT I NEVER DO.I GOT A WEAK STOMICH.CANT EAT AS IT IS..LITTLE LONE SEEING THIS. BUT I GUESS IF PEOPLE R SICK THEY R SICK. BAD AS I HATE DRUGGIES I DROTHER SEE THEM THEN SEE THIS JUNK. people of god stand up for god.

    May 14, 2012 at 9:01 am | Reply
  6. Matthew

    Christians States of America (future break away state from USA) – Gay marriage outlawed

    May 14, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
  7. donny

    well im not a hater my self.. just hate to see what its coming to in this world.i hate no one just wish people would stop this junk.. cause people dont belive in this dont make them a hater. its up to u what u r..just hate to see it here in my state..and for kids to see... to me i think gays just see it as a fantasy of some kind.. not a hater.

    May 14, 2012 at 10:03 am | Reply
  8. D10

    Usually, I do not ever get involved in posts such as these.Honestly I read them, get towards the middle and get so frustrated I 'x' out of Also, I am one of those 'horrible gay people that is ruining family customs and America'. Well I would just like to say a few things. First, I grew up in a 'traditional' family full of love and 'family customs' that are considered normal to most of you. My parents are both a man and a woman so it was never in their plans or intentions to have a gay child. And I'll be honest, it was not easy for myself to accept. I am a Christian and have been since I was a small child. I believe in my Father and consider myself a Soldier of Christ. But when I came out, I really struggled with my faith. How in the world could my Father LET me be gay. I prayed and prayed for him to take it away, I dated 'normally' and I tried to ignore my feelings. But in the end, I learned after many yrs of searching, God does NOT care. The message He gives us is that he loves us, no matter what. And if being gay is a sin, as many of you have pointed out by your interpretation, then let us not forget God has stated that he loves you regardless. There is no sin too big to make him stop loving you. You could reject Him your entire life and accept him in the last day of your life and He will forgive you. Thats how it works. And people, I know I will receive several passages in response and thats totally fine, but I will say that now that I have accepted who God MADE me, I have never felt his love envelope me more. I could throw passages out there about all the things the bible states about other things you shouldnt do but we somehow ignore and actually do. But I feel that most people in America make a special acceptance for the Gay rules. Second, I do not believe being Gay is a choice. Absolutely no way. Why in the world would I choose a lifestyle that treats me like a second-class citizen? Why would I spend most of my career as a soldier in the military having to hide my partner in the shadows. Forget about being able to kiss your partner good-bye before you get on a plane before a 15 month long deployment before the repeal of DADT. Forget about all those simple things a 'normal' marriage takes for granted. Why in the world would I CHOOSE that?? Thirdly, As a Soldier who defends America I feel I deserve the right to get married. Lets get real, the repeal of DADT was AMAZING. And it seems like it improved immensely. And many thought it would break down the barriers of discipline within days of its repeal. Well guess what, the military is still a fighting force that is doing its job well over in Afghanistan. But why can't I have same rights as 'normal' couples when I have raised my right hand in a time of war and vowed to protect it. I love this country-thats why I run into terror with its flag on my right shoulder. What makes our country great is that its truly the land of the free. And provides rights many around the world dream of. Let's not make those who live here, dream of a right that even our founding fathers understood.
    When people ask my opinion on gay marriage, Its sometimes hard to articulate my views. Its hard to make someone see and agree on your side of things, thats just how debates work. But I struggle with putting up such a big fight over something that is not a big deal in my eyes. There are so many other issues we could focus efforts on.
    And for those of you who dont agree with gay marriage, put yourself in the 'gay, horrible peoples' shoes. Think about how you would not be married to the love of your life that you have prolly been with for 10-20 yrs. Of course to you, you want to marry your partner as a celebration of love, but for some reason, you and 'your kind' dont get to. Its like being told as a kid that you aren't tall enough to ride the 'big kid' ride with your friends bc you're just a lil shorter than the average. How those beautiful children you have, though a gift, would be yet another fight of a right. Can you believe that? A fight to have kids bt you and your love when you know you can provide them a great life. Think about a simple act of holding hands in the mall while shopping will get you the most evil look from others around you. Its a look that will make you feel like the most unwanted human on this world.
    Have we really taken this many steps back? Or have we just been to scared to take those steps foward?

    May 14, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
    • jim

      They should have tossed yer ass out of the military and all those like you. You compare your rights to some of them goat Fkers, move yer sorry American ass over there if you dont like it here. Your mother should be ashamed of you! God does care and does forgive , you better hope he forgives preverts. Remember this you practice your perverted was around those children you'll adventually see Gods love-Love to thow your ass into eternal damnation!

      May 14, 2012 at 11:16 am | Reply
      • Jonathan

        Come to Canada. We'll treat you like a first-class citizen that you can be proud of and still retain your pride and loyalty to America. Canada is very loyal to the US just as the US is great to Canada. How dare do these people's opinions hijack their religion and put words in God and Jesus's mouth. Republicans only care about oil and don't mind destroying this planet, which looks to be the greatest creation for millions of lightyears. Do you think he did this so you can all pretend you are God and you can destroy one of his greatest creations. Did he do that so you can make people like D10 feel bad. Keep your opinions to yourself. D10, have faith that these people who are forcing their judgement on you will be punished at the gates for putting words in God's and Jesus's mouth. Jesus himself was against the church. It is all a croc. Forget these people and know that if you act in good with your heart that is all he could have ever asked.

        May 15, 2012 at 10:38 am |
      • David

        Jim, learn to spell and get a clue. Bigots like you aren't needed any longer. Move on.

        May 24, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • marlot

      gay attraction is not the way God made you, it is a desire you have, i may have a strong desire to sleep with another woman, but i cannot because i am married, desires do not need to be acted upon.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • David

      D10, thanks for your story and for your service to our country. Very well said.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:56 am | Reply
  9. Matt

    I do have some attraction to men, but am also married, love my wife and never would consider breaking my vows and have no interest in pursuing that route ever. My desire to do the right thing and live well far outweigh any selfish desire, religion aside. I believe many people turn to a gay liefstyle out of despair and lack of hope and discipline in their lives. I know this is true because I am very content with my life and at peace with the road I have taken even though I could easily have chosen to go the other way. We DO make choices in our lives every day. Mine is to end up with Jesus in heaven. Having said that I hate no one who made the choice to live a gay existence. I do feel sorry for them though... God loves all his children, but eternal happiness awaits those who follow his example.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    • marlot

      Matt, you spoke well until you said, eternal happiness awaits those who follow his example. i hope you did not mean that. Eternal happiness awaits those who do not trust their own works, but trust that their sins have been paid wholly by the blood of Jesus who died on the cross in our place, and rose again that we might rise again with him. Jesus is not an example, but is the payment. If we do not recognise sin as being sinful then we make a mockery of God's plan of salvation. Gay attraction is sinful.

      May 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  10. johnny

    It will be the beginning of the end of mankind then. And might as well be.

    May 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Reply
  11. Brazilio

    I think that people has the RIGHT TO BE FREE.

    Freedom means the liberty to choose:

    1) your religion
    2) your opinion
    3) the person who you decided to love
    4) your job

    If you believe that GOD hates everybody that isn´t of your church, that´s ok. But don´t force others that don´t believe in it to suffer because of your prejudices and belief.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
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    There is nothing dangerous in the world than sincere ignorance and concentious stupidity like that of our world leaders who support gay marriage.ooooooooooo what a stupid mentality.our world leaders who support gay marriages are growing wise to become fools.

    September 10, 2012 at 4:56 am | Reply
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