Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Marriage Equality Around the World

Amsterdam City Hall, April 1, 2001 - Photo by Rex Wockner

Article maintained with assistance from Evan Wolfson, Rob Salerno and Andrés Duque. Last update: Nov. 4, 2020.

Same-sex couples can marry in 29 nations and in 47 other jurisdictions around the world:

Netherlands (2001), Saba (2012), Bonaire (2012), Sint Eustatius (2012)

Belgium (2003)

Canada (2003-2005)

USA (2004-2015), Guam (2015), Northern Mariana Islands (2015), Puerto Rico (2015), U.S. Virgin Islands (2015)

Spain (2005), Canary Islands (2005), Ceuta (2005), Melilla (2005)

South Africa (2006)

Norway (2009)

Sweden (2009)

Argentina (2010)

Iceland (2010)

Portugal (2010), Azores (2010), Madeira (2010)

Mexico (2010-2020; full article here)

Denmark (2012), Greenland (2016), Faroe Islands (2017)

France (2013), French Guiana (2013), French Polynesia (2013), Guadeloupe (2013), Martinique (2013), Mayotte (2013), New Caledonia (2013), Réunion (2013), Saint Barthélemy (2013), Saint Martin (2013), Saint Pierre and Miquelon (2013), Wallis and Futuna (2013)

Brazil (2013)

Uruguay (2013)

New Zealand (2013)

England and Wales (2014), Akrotiri and Dhekelia (2014), British Indian Ocean Territory (2014, 2015), Scotland (2014), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (2014), Pitcairn Islands (2015), Ascension Island (2016), Isle of Man (2016), British Antarctic Territory (2016), Gibraltar (2016), Guernsey (2017), Falkland Islands (2017), Tristan da Cunha (2017), Saint Helena (2017), Jersey (2018), Alderney (2018), Bermuda (2017, 2018, see "Notes" below), Northern Ireland (2020), Sark (2020)

Luxembourg (2015)

Ireland (2015)

Colombia (2016)

Finland (2017)

Malta (2017)

Germany (2017)

Australia (2017), Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island

Austria (2019)

Taiwan (2019)

Ecuador (2019)

Costa Rica (2020)

Notes

14 nations bound by Inter-American Court ruling

"THE COURT DECIDES ... by six votes to one that: ... Under Articles 1(1), 2, 11(2), 17 and 24 of the [American] Convention [on Human Rights], States must ensure full access to all the mechanisms that exist in their domestic laws, including the right to marriage, to ensure the protection of the rights of families formed by same-sex couples, without discrimination in relation to those that are formed by heterosexual couples, as established in paragraphs 200 to 228."

In a binding ruling made on Nov. 24, 2017, and published Jan. 9, 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights instructed 20 nations that are signatories to the American Convention on Human Rights to let same-sex couples marry: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay. Six of the nations — Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay — have marriage equality, and Mexico has marriage equality in 18 of its 31 states and in Mexico City, the federal capital. Courts in Ecuador and Costa Rica brought in marriage equality because of the Inter-American Court ruling.

"All countries are obligated to apply the Convention as the court applies it, so it is binding on all as precedent," said Hunter T. Carter, a partner at Arent Fox who has tried a case in the Inter-American Court and represents Chilean same-sex couples in the Inter-American system.

Dutch Caribbean

Overseas municipalities Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have marriage equality. Constituent countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten do not, though they partially recognize Dutch marriages from elsewhere.

Mexico

Mexican states (there are 31) are a hotspot of the marriage-equality movement. To date, 18 states and federal capital Mexico City have achieved marriage equality via three different pathways. My article is here.

French places

All overseas departments and collectivities — see the France entry above — have marriage equality. The links above show a same-sex couple marrying in nine of the 11 jurisdictions.

British places

See above for the lengthy list of British places with marriage equality. Five overseas territories — Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands — do not have marriage equality.

Bermuda

In June 2018, the Bermuda government became the first in the world to end marriage equality, which had been brought in by a court, replacing it with domestic partnerships. The repeal lasted until November 2018, when a court ruling took effect striking down the portion of the domestic-partnership law that re-banned marriage equality. The government appealed that ruling to the British overseas territory's court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom Privy Council, which will hear the case Feb. 3-4, 2021. Same-sex couples can continue to marry during the appeal process.

The Privy Council ruling may have some effect in, or be precedential for, multiple British overseas territories and Commonwealth countries that use the Privy Council as their final court and don't have marriage equality. Those overseas territories are Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands. And those Commonwealth countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Brunei, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tuvalu.

There was only one other repeal of marriage equality in history: California voters ended marriage equality via a ballot initiative (Proposition 8) in 2008. A court ruling overturning the voters' decision took effect in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the initiative's sponsors. Voters in the U.S. state of Maine blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2009, then reversed themselves and allowed marriage equality in 2012. Voters in Slovenia blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2015. A court ruling in the British overseas territory Cayman Islands allowed marriage equality for 13 days in 2019 before a higher court issued a stay. No same-sex couple married during that time.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Grand Court legalized marriage equality on March 29, 2019, striking down the British overseas territory's ban. On April 10, 2019, the day the first marriage was to take place, the Court of Appeal issued a stay of the Grand Court ruling, blocking marriage equality until the government's appeal of the ruling ran its course. On Nov. 7, 2019, the Court of Appeal overturned the lower-court ruling but said the Legislative Assembly had to "expeditiously" provide the plaintiffs with a legal status equivalent to marriage. Nearly nine months later, on July 29, 2020, the Legislative Assembly voted down a domestic-partnership bill designed to do that. On Sept. 4, 2020, the United Kingdom's governor in the Caymans force-enacted the partnership bill.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs in the marriage case have taken the case to the court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, where a ruling is expected in early 2021, along with a ruling in Bermuda's marriage case. Of the 25 British jurisdictions scattered around the globe, only five now don't have marriage equality: Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands. (Marriage equality remains in force in Bermuda during the appeal of its case.)

Ireland

On May 22, 2015, Ireland became the first nation to bring in marriage equality by popular vote. Irish people amended their constitution by a landslide margin of 62.07% to 37.93%.

U.S. territories

Four of the five U.S. territories — Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands — were covered by the U.S. Supreme Court's nationwide marriage-equality ruling on June 26, 2015. American Samoa was not.

The United States Minor Outlying Islands — Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean, and Navassa Island in the Caribbean Sea — would have marriage equality. Their population nowadays is a small number of temporarily assigned scientists and military personnel.

Antarctica

Marriage equality exists in much of Antarctica, given the nations that claim portions of the continent as national territory: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom.

On the high seas

Same-sex couples can marry at sea on Celebrity Cruises ships, courtesy of the Malta Parliament's passage of marriage equality in July 2017.

U.S. Indian tribes

There are 574 of them and they are not covered by the June 26, 2015, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that brought in marriage equality nationwide. At least 29 tribes, listed below, have legalized same-sex marriage to date. A number of others follow the marriage law of the state in which they are located, so marriage equality is in place without additional tribal action.

• Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon (2009)
• Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut (2010)
• Suquamish Tribe in Washington (2011)
• Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe in Washington (2012)
• Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan (2013)
• Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington (2013)
• Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan (2013)
• Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California (2013)
• Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma (2013)
• Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota (2013)
• Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington (2014)
• Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming (2014)
• Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes in Alaska (2015)
• Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin (2015)
• Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan (2015)
• Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Oregon (2015)
• Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon (2015)
• Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin (2016)
• Tulalip Tribes in Washington (2016)
• Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin (2016)
• Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma (2016)
• Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Community in Minnesota (2017)
• Osage Nation in Oklahoma (2017)
• Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin (2017)
• Ak-Chin Indian Community in Arizona (2017)
• Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota (2019)
• Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan (2019)
• Colorado River Indian Tribes in Californa/Nevada/Arizona (2019)
• Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota (2020)

Watch list

This section is now a separate article: Worldwide Marriage Equality Watch List. Click here to read about the places on the planet most likely to see marriage equality next, as well as places where marriage equality has become a high-profile topic.

Geography lesson

Where are those 47 other jurisdictions of Australia, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA?

Australia
• Christmas Island » Indian Ocean
• Cocos (Keeling) Islands » Indian Ocean
• Norfolk Island » South Pacific Ocean

Denmark
• Faroe Islands » North Atlantic Ocean
• Greenland » between North Atlantic and Arctic oceans

France
• French Guiana » South America
• French Polynesia » South Pacific Ocean
• Guadeloupe » Caribbean Sea
• Martinique » Caribbean Sea
• Mayotte » Indian Ocean
• New Caledonia » South Pacific Ocean
• Réunion » Indian Ocean
• Saint Barthélemy » Caribbean Sea
• Saint Martin » Caribbean Sea
• Saint Pierre and Miquelon » next to Newfoundland
• Wallis and Futuna » South Pacific Ocean

Netherlands
• Bonaire » Caribbean Sea
• Saba » Caribbean Sea
• Sint Eustatius » Caribbean Sea

Portugal
• Azores » North Atlantic Ocean
• Madeira » North Atlantic Ocean

Spain
• Canary Islands » North Atlantic Ocean
• Ceuta » Africa
• Melilla » Africa

United Kingdom
• Akrotiri and Dhekelia » Cyprus
• Alderney » English Channel
• Ascension Island » South Atlantic Ocean
• Bermuda » North Atlantic Ocean
• British Antarctic Territory
• British Indian Ocean Territory
• Falkland Islands » South Atlantic Ocean
• Gibraltar » attached to Spain
• Guernsey » English Channel
• Isle of Man » Irish Sea
• Jersey » English Channel
• Northern Ireland » Island of Ireland
• Pitcairn Islands » South Pacific Ocean
• Saint Helena » South Atlantic Ocean
• Sark » English Channel
• Scotland » Great Britain
• South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands » South Atlantic Ocean
• Tristan da Cunha » South Atlantic Ocean
• Wales » Great Britain

USA
• Guam » North Pacific Ocean
• Northern Mariana Islands » North Pacific Ocean
• Puerto Rico » Caribbean Sea
• U.S. Virgin Islands » Caribbean Sea

Worldwide Marriage Equality Watch List

Amsterdam City Hall, April 1, 2001

This is a companion article to my article Marriage Equality Around the World. Here we track the nations and other jurisdictions most likely to see marriage equality next, as well as places where marriage equality has become a high-profile topic. Last update: Nov. 18, 2020.

Andorra

Andorra is planning to erase the distinction between civil unions for same-sex couples and casaments (weddings) for opposite-sex couples and allow both to have casaments, and to define matrimoni (marriage) as a religious thing that happens in church. The vote in the General Council (parliament) is expected this year.

Bermuda

In June 2018, the Bermuda government became the first in the world to end marriage equality, which had been brought in by a court, replacing it with domestic partnerships. The repeal lasted until November 2018, when a court ruling took effect striking down the portion of the domestic-partnership law that re-banned marriage equality. The government appealed that ruling to the British overseas territory's court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom Privy Council, which will hear the case Feb. 3-4, 2021. Same-sex couples can continue to marry during the appeal process.

The Privy Council ruling may have some effect in, or be precedential for, multiple British overseas territories and Commonwealth countries that use the Privy Council as their final court and don't have marriage equality. Those overseas territories are Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands. And those Commonwealth countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Brunei, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tuvalu.

There was only one other repeal of marriage equality in history: California voters ended marriage equality via a ballot initiative (Proposition 8) in 2008. A court ruling overturning the voters' decision took effect in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the initiative's sponsors. Voters in the U.S. state of Maine blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2009, then reversed themselves and allowed marriage equality in 2012. Voters in Slovenia blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2015. A court ruling in the British overseas territory Cayman Islands allowed marriage equality for 13 days in 2019 before a higher court issued a stay. No same-sex couple married during that time.

Bolivia

In July 2020, the Second Constitutional Chamber of the La Paz Court of Justice annulled a 2019 decision of the Civic Registry Service (Serecí) that blocked a same-sex couple from registering their union. The court ordered Serecí to re-rule within 10 days in accord with the 2017 marriage equality ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is binding on Bolivia and 13 other nations that still haven't brought in marriage equality.

The Bolivian ruling emphasized that Bolivia's constitution explicitly states that when international treaties and instruments in the area of human rights have been signed, ratified or adhered to by Bolivia, and provide human rights beyond those provided under the Bolivian constitution, the international rights take precedence. This same sort of constitutional clause led to marriage equality in Ecuador last year.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Grand Court legalized marriage equality on March 29, 2019, striking down the British overseas territory's ban. On April 10, 2019, the day the first marriage was to take place, the Court of Appeal issued a stay of the Grand Court ruling, blocking marriage equality until the government's appeal of the ruling ran its course. On Nov. 7, 2019, the Court of Appeal overturned the lower-court ruling but said the Legislative Assembly had to "expeditiously" provide the plaintiffs with a legal status equivalent to marriage. Nearly nine months later, on July 29, 2020, the Legislative Assembly voted down a domestic-partnership bill designed to do that. On Sept. 4, 2020, the United Kingdom's governor in the Caymans force-enacted the partnership bill.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs in the marriage case have taken the case to the court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, where a ruling is expected in early 2021, along with a ruling in Bermuda's marriage case. Of the 25 British jurisdictions scattered around the globe, only five now don't have marriage equality: Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands. (Marriage equality remains in force in Bermuda during the appeal of its case.)

Chile

Since President Sebastián Piñera took office in March 2018, Chile's government has resisted bringing in marriage equality and in October 2018, Piñera told TV viewers, "I believe that marriage, as we conceive it and by its nature, is between a man and a woman."

Under a settlement agreement Chile's previous government entered into at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2016, the government was required to promote marriage equality until it was achieved. But in September 2019, the new government declared it intended only to "monitor" a marriage-equality bill introduced in 2017 by the previous administration. In January 2020, that bill finally saw initial approval in the Senate, where it faces further discussion and votes.

Chile is also among the nations instructed to bring in marriage equality by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' November 2017 marriage-equality ruling.

In June 2019, Chile's Supreme Court upheld a ruling that said the Civil Registry did not have to process a same-sex couple's marriage application. The couple then took their case to the Inter-American Commission, where it is pending. In April 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled 5-4 against a same-sex couple who sued the Civil Registry for recording their Spanish marriage as a civil union rather than a marriage and against overturning the nation's ban on marriage equality.

China

China wrote a new civil code in 2019 and, during public comment periods, LGBTs submitted at least tens of thousands of recommendations that the code bring in marriage equality — a project coordinated by LGBT Rights Advocacy China via Weibo and WeChat, giant Chinese social-media apps. While the lobbying did not succeed, it demonstrated LGBTs' ability to create huge discussions on social media and advanced self-empowerment. The related Weibo hashtag had 200 million views before it was deleted. Ultimately, there is a decent chance the government will decide not to fight the tide and begin accommodating LGBT citizens' push for equality, but it could view the community's capacity for collective action as problematic and make efforts to curb it, said Darius Longarino, a senior fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center.

Cuba

In July 2018, the National Assembly unanimously passed the first draft of a new constitution containing marriage equality. A public consultation followed, ending in November. In December, the National Assembly reported that the consultation found that Cubans opposed putting marriage equality in the constitution, and the language was removed before the document was sent to a voter referendum. Instead, the assembly said, the matter would be dealt with in a new family code, which itself would go to a public consultation and referendum. In December 2019, the justice minister said the new family code will be presented to the National Assembly for analysis and subsequent approval in March 2021.

Curaçao

In September 2018, 17 years after the dawn of marriage equality in the Netherlands, activists in Curaçao, a Dutch constituent country in the Caribbean Sea, wrote a marriage-equality bill that was introduced into Parliament several months later by two MPs from the governing parties. The initiative was unveiled at a Curaçao Pride event and dubbed "the first marriage equality bill of the Caribbean to be drawn up by our own people." Dutch Caribbean overseas municipalities Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have marriage equality, while Caribbean constituent countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten do not, though they partially recognize Dutch marriages from elsewhere.

Czech Republic

In June 2018, the Czech Republic government threw its support behind a pending bill to modify the Civil Code to bring in marriage equality, which a December 2019 poll found is supported by 67% of Czech people. The Czech Republic would be the first former Eastern Bloc nation to let same-sex couples marry.

El Salvador

There are multiple marriage-equality lawsuits before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice. In January 2020, Justice Aldo Cáder said the court planned to rule before April 2020.

Estonia

In October 2020, a petition for marriage equality created by the Greens party and signed by citizens cleared the signature threshold to force consideration by parliament. The petitioners hope to amend the nation's Family Act before a scheduled 2021 referendum on amending the constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Guatemala

An anti-marriage-equality bill cleared two of three readings in the unicameral Congress and remains pending. Even though marriage is already defined in law as between a man and a woman, Bill 5272, Law for Protection of Life and Family, explicitly bans marriage for same-sex couples — contravening the November 2017 marriage-equality ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is binding on Guatemala. Should the bill pass, activists say they would sue in the Constitutional Court and, if they were to lose there, in the Inter-American system.

In 2018, then-President Jimmy Morales said [5:54 mark in video]: "I remind the people of Guatemala that their institutions and their officials, according to Article 156 of the Political Constitution of the Republic, are not obligated to follow illegal orders. ... Our government and Guatemala believe in the family based in the marriage of man and woman." Current President Alejandro Giammattei, who took office in January 2020, also opposes marriage equality.

The bill's page at CongressActivists' analysisAmnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch

Honduras

In May 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice accepted a lawsuit seeking to enforce the November 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that instructed 20 Americas nations to bring in marriage equality and modern gender-identity laws. The lawsuit aims to strike down an article of the Constitution that bans marriage equality and recognition of same-sex couples' foreign marriages and civil unions. It also targets a Family Code article that extends marriage rights to opposite-sex de facto unions but not same-sex unions, and the Law on the National Registry of Persons, which effectively prevents transgender people from changing their name.

In October 2018, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández told reporters at a press conference: "Personally as a Christian I am against marriage of persons of the same sex; obviously, it is the judiciary that, according to Honduran law, has to rule on it. [Regardless of sexual preferences] people should be treated with dignity, no matter what their inclination. People should be treated with dignity and this issue is very important."

In November 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed a second marriage-equality lawsuit, an action of unconstitutionality filed by activist groups, saying the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate "their direct, personal and legitimate interest" in the matter and made technical errors in their filing. The original case, filed by activist Indyra María Mendoza Aguilar, remains pending and in February 2019, local media said the court had accepted a third case filed by activists.

Hong Kong

In October 2019, the Court of First Instance of the High Court of Hong Kong ruled against a lesbian who sued for access to marriage, alleging that her constitutional rights to privacy and equality were being violated. The court said the word "marriage" in Hong Kong law refers to heterosexual marriage and the case did not present "sufficiently strong or compelling" evidence for ruling otherwise. It added that legislators should deal with recognizing same-sex relationships. In August 2019, single-issue activist group Hong Kong Marriage Equality launched.

India

After a constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India unanimously legalized gay sex in September 2018, decriminalizing 18% of LGBT people on the planet, activists added marriage equality to their agenda and, in January 2020, a gay couple filed suit in the High Court of the state of Kerala arguing that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violates multiple provisions of India's constitution. In September 2020, a second suit was filed in the Delhi High Court. In October 2020, a third suit was filed in the Delhi High Court, with plaintiffs represented by the queer lawyer couple who took down the gay sex ban. That case, and a case by an Indian couple who live and married in the U.S. but were denied registration of their marriage at the Indian consulate, will be heard Jan. 8, 2021. State high court rulings in India generally have national effect unless another high court has ruled the opposite way.

Jamaica

In July 2019, a legal case was launched at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking to bring marriage equality to Jamaica. It argues that Jamaica's constitution is in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights, which the nation signed 41 years ago.

Japan

Thirteen same-sex couples filed marriage-equality lawsuits nationwide on Feb. 14, 2019 (Valentine's Day), and a marriage equality bill was introduced in the legislature, the National Diet, in June 2019.

Mexico

Mexico can only get marriage equality state by state. Eighteen of the 31 states and the federal capital Mexico City have gotten there, leaving 13 states to go. I have a separate article with the details here.

Panama

Lawyer Iván Chanis Barahona, head of Panama's marriage-equality group, La Fundación Iguales Panamá, says the November 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage-equality ruling is "totally binding" on Panama. "Case closed." A Panama Supreme Court of Justice draft opinion rejecting marriage equality that had been circulating at the court was withdrawn in February 2018 because of the Inter-American Court ruling. In January 2018, Panamanian Vice President Isabel De Saint Malo said the Inter-American court ruling is indeed binding ("vinculante") on Panama.

In October 2019, the National Assembly passed a series of constitutional revisions that included a ban on marriage equality. Days of protests by students, LGBTs and others ensued and, on Nov. 8, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo said he will work to delete the ban before the revisions are finalized and sent to a voter referendum.

Paraguay

In the wake of the November 2017 marriage-equality ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, activist group SomosGay announced two new lawsuits at the nation's Supreme Court of Justice. As a first step, the suits seek recognition of two marriages of same-sex couples who married abroad.

Peru

In the wake of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' November 2017 marriage-equality ruling, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Duberlí Rodríguez, said, "Peru is part of the Inter-American system and the organism that defends and protects these rights is called the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and ... if the court has taken a decision, I believe that all the parties are called to respect that decision."

In November 2020, Peru's Constitutional Court voted 4-3 not to force the National Registry to record a same-sex marriage entered into in Mexico. The plaintiff said he will take the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In April 2019, the 11th Constitutional Court of the Superior Court of Lima ordered the National Registry to register the marriage of a Peruvian same-sex couple who married in 2016 in Miami. In August 2019, the Sixth Constitutional Court of the Superior Court of Lima ordered the National Registry to register the marriage of a Peruvian same-sex couple who married in 2015 in New York.

A marriage-equality bill was introduced in Congress in 2017 and is awaiting action by the Justice Committee.

Philippines

In September 2019, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a marriage-equality case it had heard in June 2018. While acknowledging that the Constitution "does not define or restrict marriage on the basis of sex," the justices said the plaintiff lacked standing, violated the principle of hierarchy of courts, and failed to raise a justiciable controversy.

Romania

An attempt to obstruct marriage equality by rewriting the definition of "family" in the constitution failed in October 2018 when an inadequate percentage of voters showed up to vote in a nationwide referendum. Thirty percent of all voters needed to cast a ballot for the referendum result to be valid, but only 20.41 percent did. LGBT leaders and others had called on voters to boycott the referendum. In September 2018, Romania's Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples must have the same "legal and juridical recognition of their rights and obligations" as opposite-sex couples.

South Korea

In November 2019, LGBTs filed 1,056 complaints at the National Human Rights Commission of Korea demanding marriage equality. Gagoonet, the Korean Network for Partnership and Marriage Rights of LGBT, said the mass complaints target the president, prime minister, heads of ministries and local governments, and the National Assembly chair. "Korean same-sex couples are not guaranteed the rights of marriage and family life, which are basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Korea," Gagoonet said. "Because of the lack of recognition, same-sex couples in Korea suffer from an infringement of economic and social rights, including social security, access to healthcare and housing, and workplace benefits."

Switzerland

Switzerland's National Council passed marriage equality in June 2020 by a vote of 132 to 52 with 13 abstentions. The bill now needs to clear the other house, the Council of States. The only nations in Western Europe without marriage equality are Andorra, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City.

Thailand

A marriage-equality bill was introduced in parliament in June 2020 by the Move Forward Party, the second-largest opposition party in the lower house. A civil-partnership bill was approved by the cabinet and introduced in parliament in July 2020. It appears to include most of the rights of marriage, including inheritance and adoption rights, but not the right to access a partner's work-based health coverage or pension. In December 2019, Thailand's Constitutional Court rejected a marriage-equality case on a technicality, saying it should have been filed in administrative court.

Venezuela

Two marriage-equality lawsuits have long been at the final stage in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, according to Venezuela Igualitaria. One lawsuit targets a Civil Code article that says, "Marriage cannot be contracted except between one man and one woman." The other lawsuit alleges a "legislative omission" resulting from the opposition National Assembly's failure to take up the Equal Civil Marriage Bill. In October 2020, President Nicolás Maduro suggested the National Assembly should consider marriage equality when it reconvenes in January 2021.

Mexico's Wild Ride to Marriage Equality

Article maintained with help from Geraldina González de la Vega and Alex Alí Méndez Díaz. Last update: Nov. 8, 2020.

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz
Eighteen of Mexico's 31 states and the federal capital Mexico City have marriage equality and same-sex couples can marry in the other 13 states if they go to a federal judge and get a personalized injunction (amparo), a process that is time-consuming and requires paying a lawyer for help. The judge cannot refuse the amparo.

The requirement on judges resulted from a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) that declared all bans on marriage equality unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, however, has no power to end all states' bans simultaneously, and can only force individual states' bans out of existence in specific situations.

The ruling says: "Marriage. The law of any federative entity that, on the one hand, considers that the purpose of it [marriage] is procreation and/or that defines it as that which is celebrated between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional." ("Matrimonio. La ley de cualquier entidad federativa que, por un lado, considere que la finalidad de aquél es la procreación y/o que lo defina como el que se celebra entre un hombre y una mujer, es inconstitucional.")

The SCJN ruling resulted from a project by activist-lawyer Alex Alí Méndez Díaz and his organization México Igualitario that involved getting enough identical cases before the Supreme Court from multiple states to create an opportunity for the court to declare "jurisprudence" against bans on marriage equality.

Below are the states where same-sex couples can marry normally. Eleven states have passed marriage equality legislatively, three states have decided administratively to stop enforcing their unconstitutional bans, and four states have marriage equality because Supreme Court rulings against their individual bans overrode their laws.

Aguascalientes (SCJN ruling)
Baja California (administrative)
Baja California Sur (legislative)
Campeche (legislative)
Chiapas (SCJN ruling)
Chihuahua (administrative)
Coahuila (legislative)
Colima (legislative)
Hidalgo (legislative)
Jalisco (SCJN ruling)
Mexico City (legislative)
Michoacán (legislative)
Morelos (legislative)
Nayarit (legislative)
Nuevo León (SCJN ruling)
Oaxaca (legislative)
Puebla (SCJN ruling, then legislative)
Quintana Roo (administrative)
San Luis Potosí (legislative)

As to states whose bans are dead because of Supreme Court rulings, here's what happened: When any law is passed in Mexico and takes effect, there is a 30-day window for certain governmental entities to challenge the law with an "action of unconstitutionality" at the Supreme Court. In all but one of those states, legislators made changes to their marriage laws, unrelated to marriage equality, and the revised paragraphs also included existing man-woman language. The revisions qualified as "new" laws that could be challenged during the 30 days after they took effect. The National Human Rights Commission filed actions of unconstitutionality against the man-woman language and the SCJN struck down the states' bans in separate rulings that began in 2016. The states likely were unaware they were setting up their same-sex-marriage bans for strikedown.

In the case of one those states, Aguascalientes, the challenged new law dealt with the health-care and pension system for state-government workers, and the National Human Rights Commission successfully argued to the SCJN that health care, pension and marriage laws are so dependent on each other that the man-woman definition of marriage, which was not new, needed to be tossed out as well. The SCJN invalidated all state laws that defined marriage as between a man and woman in 2019.

Going forward, it is very likely that additional state congresses will pass marriage equality — because ultimately their lawbooks need to reflect the 2015 Supreme Court jurisprudence ruling — and, in the meantime, it is possible that officials in additional states could stop enforcing their unconstitutional bans by administrative fiat. In addition, some other states' bans may be individually terminated by the Supreme Court via varied ongoing legal actions.

Beyond all that, in December 2019, the ruling Morena party proposed a federal constitutional amendment under which any state that hasn't passed a marriage-equality law must do so within three months of the amendment taking effect. The amendment also would invalidate all remaining state bans on marriage equality the moment it takes effect and extend to all civil-union couples, retroactive to when they entered the union, every right and obligation of marriage. Only 11 of the 18 states with marriage equality (and Mexico City) arrived there by passage of a law, so the amendment would force the hands of 20 states. Amending Mexico's constitution requires a two-thirds vote by members present the day of the vote in the federal Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic, followed by ratification by more than half of the 32 local congresses (31 state congresses and Mexico City's).

ADOPTION: Same-sex couples have adoption rights nationwide. The Supreme Court reiterated its jurisprudence in 2016, writing: "ADOPTION. The best interest of the minor is based on the suitability of the adopters, within which are irrelevant the type of family into which [the minor] will be integrated, as well as the sexual orientation or civil status of [the adopters]." ("Adopción. El interés superior del menor de edad se basa en la idoneidad de los adoptantes, dentro de la cual son irrelevantes el tipo de familia al que aquél será integrado, así como la orientación sexual o el estado civil de éstos.")

Where Mexico Stands Right Now on Marriage Equality (lite version)



Last update: Nov. 8, 2020

Mexico can only get marriage equality state by state (unless the federal constitution is amended).

There are 31 states and Mexico City, the federal capital.

Eighteen states and Mexico City have marriage equality.

Eleven states — Baja California Sur, Campeche, Coahuila, Colima, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla and San Luis Potosí — and Mexico City passed marriage equality legislatively.

Four states — Aguascalientes, Chiapas, Jalisco and Nuevo León — have marriage equality because their bans were terminated by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. They still need to pass legislation to bring their laws into accord with the court's rulings, but marriage equality is in place now.

One state — Quintana Roo — decided its laws never prevented marriage equality in the first place.

And two states — Baja California and Chihuahua — currently are not enforcing their bans by administrative fiat.

In the other 13 states, same-sex couples can marry only if they go to a federal judge and get an injunction (amparo), a path that is both time-consuming and requires paying a lawyer for help. The judge cannot refuse the amparo.

The requirement on judges resulted from a 2015 jurisprudence ruling by the Supreme Court that declared all bans on marriage equality unconstitutional.

The court, however, has no power to end all states' bans simultaneously, and can only force individual states' bans out of existence in specific situations.

The 13 states without full marriage equality are Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, México (there's a state named México), Querétaro, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán and Zacatecas.

For more detail and all links, see my article Mexico's Wild Ride to Marriage Equality.

LGBT Antidiscrimination Laws in the United States

National Equality March, Washington, D.C., October 11, 2009. Photo by Rex Wockner

Last update: June 15, 2020

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court banned discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, saying LGBT people are protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on workplace sex discrimination.

The 6-3 decision, written by Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch, said: "An employer who fired an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act] forbids."

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, job discrimination based on sexual orientation was banned in only 23 of the 50 states and two of the five territories, under state and territory law, and in one more state under a federal appeals court ruling. And job discrimination based on gender identity was banned in 22 states and two territories, under state and territory law, and in four more states under a federal appeals court ruling.

Laws in states and territories

Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is banned nationwide by the Supreme Court ruling. LGBT people have additional protections, in the areas of housing and public accommodations, in 23 states.

Twenty-one states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington. So does the federal district, Washington, D.C.

Wisconsin prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. Utah prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing but not in public accommodations. Guam and Puerto Rico (U.S. territories) also prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment before the nationwide Supreme Court ruling.

In states with no sexual-orientation or gender-identity protections in the remaining areas of housing and public accommodations, it is common to find protections at the municipal level in large cities and university towns. Local nondiscrimination ordinances, however, sometimes do not have the teeth of state or federal laws.