Which Countries Have Legalized Gay Marriage?

While several states allow gay marriage in the US, the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage due to the Defense of Marriage Act. However, there are several countries that do recognize gay marriage.

Here is a resource page that contains information on which countries allow same-sex couples to get married. It will be updated to reflect future changes in marriage laws as they happen. For the sake of clarity, this page will only include those countries where same-sex marriage has been recognized. It will not include civil unions and other forms of legal recognition, as they will be part of a future list.

Gay Marriage in the Netherlands
The Netherlands became the first country to officially allow same-sex marriages on April 1, 2001. The bill, which widened the definition of marriage to include same-sex partners, was passed in September, 2000. The legislation also allowed same-sex couples the right to adopt. To find out more about the history of gay marriage in the Netherlands, please click here.

Gay Marriage in Belgium

On January 30, 2003, Belgium became the second country to recognize gay marriage. The change in the law granted almost all the rights open to heterosexual married couples, however it did not include the right to adopt. Legal co-parenting for Belgium’s same-sex couples came into force just over three years later in April, 2006. For more information about gay marriage in Belgium, please click here.

Gay Marriage in Spain
Despite heavy opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the Spanish parliament passed same-sex marriage legislation on June 30, 2005. The legislation, which made Spain the third country to recognize gay marriage, also granted adoption rights for same-sex couples, however some disparities between homosexual and heterosexual marriages remained. To help remedy this, the law on assisted reproduction was amended in 2006, allowing co-parenting recognition for married lesbian partners who had used IVF treatment to have a child. For more information on gay marriage in Spain, please click here.

Gay Marriage in Canada

Although the Netherlands was the first country to legally recognize gay marriage, a joint wedding by two Canadian same-sex couples actually preceded the recognition of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands, and seemed to precipitate, at least in part, full recognition of gay marriage throughout Canada some years later. Here is a little more detail about that case:

The couples involved were Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell and Anne and Elaine Vautour. The two couples had a joint marriage ceremony officiated by Rev. Brent Hawkes at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on January 14, 2001. Both couples were given a government record-of-marriage following their unions. However, Ontario officials refused to acknowledge the legality of the same-sex marriages that had been carried out that day.

After a lengthy legal battle, on July 12, 2002, a lower court ruled that the marriages were legal. This decision was affirmed in the Court of Appeal for Ontario on June 10, 2003. The Court of Appeal deemed that the exclusion of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

This decision was not appealed by Ontario’s government, and as such the couples’ unions were formally recognized as having been carried out on the aforementioned date of January 14, 2001, making it, in retrospect, a quiet landmark for same-sex marriage in Canada. The date of registration the two couples eventually received was June 11, 2003.

Similar legal victories were had in British Columbia and Quebec, and eventually in nine of Canada’s provinces, until the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2004 in Re Same-Sex Marriage that same-sex marriage had constitutional validity.

The Court compelled the Canadian federal government to enact legislation to recognize gay marriage. The Canadian legislature eventually then codified the revised definition of civil marriage in the Civil Marriage Act. The legislation received Royal Assent (and therein became law) on July 20, 2005. To find out more about the history of gay marriage in Canada, please click here.

Gay Marriage in South Africa
Almost one year after South Africa’s highest court ruled that the country’s existing definition of marriage violated its constitution’s guarantee of equal rights, gay marriages in South Africa became legal on November 30, 2006, following the South African parliament having passed a bill for same-sex marriage earlier in the month.

This made South Africa the first country in Africa to officially grant same-sex marriage, and the fifth country in the world. Same-sex adoption rights had already been affirmed in 2002. To see a brief history of the recognition of gay partnerships and how this culminated in gay marriage in South Africa, please click here.

Gay Marriage in Norway
Following a gender-neutral marriage bill that was passed by the Norwegian legislature on June 11, 2008, Norway became the sixth country to officially allow same-sex marriage on January 1, 2009. The new law also allowed co-parenting same-sex adoption rights and state funded IVF treatment for married lesbian couples. To find out more about gay marriage in Norway, please click here.

Gay Marriage in Sweden

Following a gender-neutral marriage bill being passed by the Swedish legislature in April, 2009, Sweden became the seventh country to recognize gay marriage on May 1, 2009. Sweden had previously passed a law to allow same-sex couples to adopt in June, 2002.

Notably, Sweden’s Lutheran Church voted to permit gay marriages to be carried out in its congregation from November 1, 2009. This decision was a result of a vote in which nearly 70 percent of the 250 synod members of the Church of Sweden voted in favor of the move.

In 2007 the Church had approved the recognition of gay partnerships within the congregation, but without the term “marriage” being attached. To find out more about gay marriage in Sweden, please click here.

Gay Marriage in Portugal
On January 8, 2010, Portugal’s parliament voted to approve gay marriage. The bill was passed by 125 votes to 99. A provision to allow adoption by same-sex partners was struck down.



18 May, 2010: Portugal’s President announces he will ratify same-sex marriage law. Read more here.

11 June, 2010:
Iceland passes legislation to legalize marriage equality. Read more here.

15 June, 2010: Argentina passes legislation to legalize marriage equality. Read more here.

June 7, 2012: Denmark legalizes marriage equality. The law took effect on June 15. Read more here.

April 10, 2013: Uruguay lawmakers vote to legalize marriage equality which will come into force August 1. Read more here.

April 17, 2013: New Zealand lawmakers vote to legalize marriage equality. Read more here.

April 23, 2013: France’s National Assembly, despite bitter and violent protests, votes to legalize marriage equality. The law will come into force August 1. Read more here.


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Photo used under the Creative Commons License with thanks to Andy Birkey.


Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Well let's talk about the "good ol' biblical marriage." Let's see we have the incestuous marriage of Genesis, where wives are subordinate to their husbands, interfaith marriage is forbidden, and brides are stoned if they aren't virgins on their wedding nights.

We have the biblical marriage of a man, his wives, and his concubines like Abraham, Gideon, Nahor, Jacob, Eliphaz, Gideon, Caleb, Manassah, Solomon, and Melshazzar.

We have the polygamy of men with multiple wives like Lamech, Esau, Jacob, Ashir, Gideon, Elkanah, Rahaboam, Ablijah, Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin, and Belshazzar.

We have the marriage between a man and his brother's widow (usually polygamous) as in Genesis 38:6-10.

We have the marriage between a rapist and his victim as in Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

We have the marriage between a male soldier and the female prisoner of war he rapes (Numbers 31:1-18, and Deuteronomy 21:11-14).

And of course the marriage between a male slave and a female slave as ordered by their master (Exodus 21:4).

So tell me, which of these "biblical marriages" should we be supporting?

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Romans 1:26-27 mentions homosexual acts performed by people who are clearly described as heterosexual. The men in the NT patriarchal culture exerted dominance not only over women, but over younger males as well.

The nature of homosexual acts in the Bible are so very different from what we know as homosexuality today that the passages have no application to today's homosexuality. Such practices as in NT times simply no longer exist.

Alleged references to homosexuality in I Corinthians and I Timothy are the inventions of anti-gay translators. They are not in the original Greek texts.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

I Cor 6:9, no way refers to homosexuality. The original Greek word often quoted as sexual immorality, Paul used was "porneia" which means "a harlot for hire". In Corinth in the temples of Venus, the principal deity of Corinth, where Christians went to worship, a thousand public prostitutes were kept at public expense to glorify and act as surrogates for the fertility Gods.

This sex with the pagan Gods is what Paul was talking about - fornication is an admitted mistranslation and has nothing to do with gays or singles sex. This rendering reflected the bias of the translators rather than an accurate translation of Paul's words to a culture of 2000 years ago worshipping pagan sex gods.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

There is little said in the bible about homosexuality because it was no big deal! It occupied a prominent and respected position in most Greek and Roman cities at all levels of society and among a substantial part of the population. There are only 4 scriptures that are taken to say anything about homosexuality; the Leviticus laws, I Cor 6:9, Romans 1:26-27, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah - and none address loving, consenting homosexual acts as we know them today.

There are over 600 individual "laws" in the Levitical code, the breaking of anyone of which would make the sinner unclean and unacceptable to God. It is an abomination to eat pork, etc. The law is no longer in effect and its purpose was to show that man could never follow it. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, likewise have nothing to do with homosexuality.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Oh I apologize, that got posted on the wrong thread. Please disregard!

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

And Darlene continues with her snotty little remarks about my profession. Just can't resist, huh?

How I interact with my students is none of your business, you are not one of my students (thank god) and this is not a college classroom. It is a shame that you find intelligence and humor so offputting, but zealots are often like that.

I am really sorry, not only that you believe in silly conspriacy theories, but that you totally lack any sort of sense of humor (or baxic manners for that matter).

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Of course the fact of the matter is (since we are discussing Judaic mythology) that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing to do with homosexuality.

Homosexuality can not be called one of the sins of Sodom, Gomorrah or Gilbeah since it is not in any of the lists of their sins given in the O.T.

Ezekiel 16:48-50 lists the specific sins of Sodom as pride, plenty, laziness, uncaring for needy, haughty and worshipping idols - which was an abomination - not homosexuality.

Some try and see in the word "abomination", a false reference to homosexual activity. This word translated abomination is to'ebah in Hebrew and is frequently found in the Old Testament. If one reads it in context every where it appears it is always connected with idolatry - never homosexuality.

As far as the attempted gang rape of the angels in Lot's house, the sin was the attempted GANG RAPE of two strangers in violation of the sacred laws of hospitality.

ALL of Sodom's people participated in the assault on Lot's house; in no culture has more than a small minority (7-10%) of the population been naturally homosexual. Therefore it can be assumed most of the violators were heterosexual. Lot's offer to give his daughters suggests he knew the crowd had heterosexual interests.

Gang rape is has nothing to do with consensual homosexual sex between adults.

People should really study their "magic books" more closely!

sylvie a.
.3 years ago

Légalisons l'amour au plus vite parce que cela devrait être des libertés individuelles pour tous, et mettons notre énergie a défendre des causes fondamentales pour lesquelles les meurent et souffrent comme les abus faits aux femmes, l'exploitation des enfants, etc.

Pat S.
Pat S.3 years ago

OK, if gay marriage is all about love then ask yourself this. If we did away with the tax benefits you get from being married would there be a case in front of the Supreme Court right now? If not then is it all about love or money?

Pat S.
Pat S.3 years ago

King James Version (KJV)

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

“And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’“
—Matthew 19:4 (NKJV)

“But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’”
—Mark 10:6 (NKJV)

When Jesus was asked questions about marriage he went straight back to the defining passages in Genesis that say that marriage is between male and female and is meant to be life long. He saw the Creation accounts in Genesis as authoritative in His day. And what is authoritative for Jesus is authoritative for Christians also. While Jesus did not specifically teach on homosexuality, His establishment of the Genesis passages as the fundamental passages on marriage (even more fundamental than the Law) leaves no doubt as to the outcome.