Greenland’s Parliament Unanimously Approves Same-Sex Marriage

After Ireland’s stunning victory last week the good news keeps on coming with Greenland’s parliament having decided, by unanimous vote no less, to legalize marriage equality.

Greenland, which technically falls under the Kingdom of Denmark but is autonomous in its lawmaking, had already adopted Denmark’s partnership laws to grant same-sex couples some rights. When Denmark legalized marriage equality in 2012, an effort was started in Greenland so that the country could follow suit and change equivalent partnership recognition into marriage.

On May 26, and just two months after the same-sex marriage bill’s first reading, Greenland’s parliament voted to do just that, unanimously approving a same-sex marriage bill 27-0 with only two abstentions.

The legislation also formalizes and streamlines adoption rights for same-sex couples, bringing their rights into step with those offered to heterosexuals.

Interestingly, Greenland in fact first considered same-sex marriage in 2010, before Denmark, but it was thought at the time that Denmark should take the lead on this issue, with Greenland following if Denmark made the change. Political upheaval due to corruption scandals and snap elections prevented earlier action, but with the presiding government backing the bill and many high profiled Lutheran religious figures also supporting same-sex marriage, there was little that stood in the way of this important change to the law.

Greenland’s law is now scheduled to go into effect on October 1 of this year, and this makes Greenland the 22nd country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, following hotly on the heels of the Republic of Ireland. So who will be next?

Activists in Germany are keen to try to keep up European momentum on this issue. Many assume that Germany already has same-sex marriage, but it only has a domestic partnership law that offers many (though not all) of the same rights. Unfortunately, while praising the Irish vote as something special and important in terms of ending discrimination against gay people, a spokesperson for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has comprehensively rejected calls from opposition leaders to move on the issue. 

“Today was an important milestone in dismantling discrimination and the chancellor is pleased about that… but same-sex marriages are not a goal of this government,” said Steffen Seibert to Reuters. “Every country makes its own laws – some countries go one route while others go another. In Germany we’ll take a path that suits Germany.”

Merkel’s government is known to be open to reforming the partnership laws to bring more equality, but that is unlikely to satisfy equality groups. It’s unclear why the government is so intransigent on this issue but it is thought that the fact the government is in a coalition, and therefore would need to find a consensus on this so called social issue, could be to blame.

A likely candidate for more substantial progress appears to be Italy. While at the moment legislation for same-sex marriage appears out of the question, even some conservatives in the country including Prime Minister Matteo Renzi note that given the strength of the marriage equality movement, and the fact that Italy is the only Western European country to have no formal recognition for same-sex couples, conceding to an equivalent civil partnership law can no longer be put off–if only to stave off marriage equality for a little while longer.

Obviously in terms of equal rights this isn’t acceptable, but it’s undeniable that for same-sex couples within Italy this could be an important change and one that might afford them many rights and, in some ways just as important, recognition that they are currently denied.

Italian LGBTs have been particularly encouraged by how Ireland was able to resist the Catholic Church’s politicking from the pulpit, and they say that while obviously Italy, due to its relationship with the Vatican, will be a more difficult prospect, there’s now momentum enough to go further than civil unions and tackle a Republic of Ireland-style referendum on the full marriage equality question.

Italy does have precedent for this. When the Italian people were given the chance to vote on whether divorce should be legal, 60 percent of voters went against the Catholic Church’s no-divorce line. Polls suggest that marriage equality will be a harder sell, particularly if adoption rights are also involved, but among young Italian people support appears to be growing, so there is room to push forward.

However, it looks like the next likely candidate for marriage equality could be the U.S. The Supreme Court of the United States is set to hand down a ruling on whether states can deny same-sex marriage rights and recognition, and it’s hoped that the Court will say that, in fact, this practice is unconstitutional. That judgement is expected in June, and while states like Alabama may try to hold out and continue to discriminate, the next big win seems likely to be on home turf.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

52 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sam Antha
Sam Antha2 years ago

Yay!!! :)

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Sam Antha
Sam Antha2 years ago

Yay!!!

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Beth Wilkerson
Beth Wilkerson2 years ago

I sincerely hope that the U.S. is the next country to take this stand

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Winn Adams
Winn Adams2 years ago

Good news!

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Great!!! Thanks for sharing

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA SOMLAI2 years ago

noted

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Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola2 years ago

Thank you for sharing

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Miriam O.

Thank you for sharing with us! Great.

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Darren Woolsey
Darren Woolsey2 years ago

Good job the animal kingdom doesn't have the same kind of politics, as humans do.

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