Friday, July 22, 2022

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: July 22, 2022.

Same-sex couples can marry in 33 nations and in 47 other discrete 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 (2010-2022; 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), Northern Ireland (2020), Sark (2020)

Luxembourg (2015)

Ireland (2015)

Colombia (2016)

Finland (2017)

Malta (2017)

Germany (2017)

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

Austria (2019)

Taiwan (2019)

Ecuador (2019)

Costa Rica (2020)

Chile (2022), Easter Island (2022)

Switzerland (2022)

Slovenia (2022)

Andorra (2022)

Notes

13 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. Seven of the nations — Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay — have marriage equality, and Mexico has marriage equality in 26 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 represented 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, 26 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

Nineteen UK jurisdictions have marriage equality: 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), Northern Ireland (2020), and Sark (2020).

Six British overseas territories do not have marriage equality: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Bermuda had marriage equality in 2017 and again from 2018 to 2022. It was terminated on March 14, 2022, by the court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The judgment is here. The Cayman Islands had marriage equality for 13 days in 2019. It was blocked with finality on March 14, 2022, by the court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The judgment is here.

The six remaining UK jurisdictions can still achieve marriage equality if their legislatures pass it, if the UK government imposes it, or possibly via the European Court of Human Rights.

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

Same-sex couples can marry in Antarctica. Nations that claim portions of the continent include Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom, all of which have marriage equality.

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 30 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)
• Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska (2022)

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, Chile, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA?

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

Chile
• Easter 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
• 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: July 22, 2022.

Six British overseas territories

Nineteen UK jurisdictions have marriage equality: 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), Northern Ireland (2020), and Sark (2020).

Six British overseas territories do not have marriage equality: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Bermuda had marriage equality in 2017 and again from 2018 to 2022. It was terminated on March 14, 2022, by the court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The judgment is here. The Cayman Islands had marriage equality for 13 days in 2019. It was blocked with finality on March 14, 2022, by the court of final appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The judgment is here.

The six remaining UK jurisdictions can still achieve marriage equality if their legislatures pass it, if the UK government imposes it, or possibly via the European Court of Human Rights.

Bolivia

In May 2021, Justice Minister Iván Lima Magne tweeted: "The issue of marriage equality is in process in our Plurinational Constitutional Court, which has requested 'amicus curiae' from the Catholic Church and other entities and experts. This is an issue that should have more debate in the nation and be decided now."

In December 2020, a Bolivian same-sex couple — David Víctor Aruquipa Pérez and Guido Álvaro Montaño Durán — won a two-year legal battle to register their "free union," a legal partnership that carries the same rights and obligations as civil marriage. The La Paz Court of Justice cited the 2017 marriage equality ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights — which is binding on Bolivia and 12 other nations that still haven't brought in marriage equality — and emphasized that Bolivia's constitution defers to international human rights instruments signed, ratified or adhered to by the nation when they guarantee human rights beyond those granted by the constitution. This same sort of constitutional clause led to marriage equality in Ecuador in 2019.

Cuba

Cubans will vote on a new family code that includes marriage equality Sept. 25.

Curaçao

In September 2021, the Court of First Instance ruled that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying is unconstitutional, but said it is up to Parliament to eliminate the unlawful discrimination. A marriage equality bill was introduced in Parliament in 2018 but was not voted on. The Netherlands' three constituent countries in the Caribbean — Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten — all lack marriage equality while the Netherlands' three overseas municipalities in the Caribbean — Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius — all have marriage equality.

Czech Republic

Marriage equality passed first reading in the Chamber of Deputies on April 29, 2021, and was sent to committees. A proposed constitutional ban on marriage equality also cleared first reading and went to committees.

El Salvador

There are multiple marriage-equality lawsuits before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, which is bound by the 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage equality ruling to rule for marriage equality. In January 2020, Justice Aldo Cáder said the court planned to rule before April 2020. In September 2021, President Nayib Bukele suggested he opposes marriage equality.

Estonia

In October 2020, a citizens' petition for marriage equality cleared the signature threshold to force consideration by parliament.

Guatemala

In March 2022, Congress passed a bill that explicitly banned 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. Two days later, President Alejandro Giammattei said he would veto the bill if Congress did not withdraw it because it was unconstitutional and violated international conventions Guatemala is a party to. Four days later, Congress voted to "archive" the bill and not send it to Giammattei's desk.

Honduras

The Constitution Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice rejected marriage equality in January 2022. Plaintiffs plan to take the cases to the Inter-American human rights system. In 2017, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a marriage equality ruling binding on 20 nations, including Honduras. Thirteen of the nations still have not brought in marriage equality.

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

Activists began pushing for marriage equality 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. Multiple lawsuits are pending in the high courts of the union territory of Delhi and the state of Kerala, targeting separate laws that regulate secular marriages, religious marriages and marriages entered into abroad. Regional 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 four decades 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. In March 2021, a district court in Sapporo ruled that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying is "unconstitutional." The ruling set an important precedent but did not have the effect of deleting the constitution's opposite-sex definition of marriage. In June 2022, a district court in Osaka ruled the opposite way. Japan is the only Group of Seven nation without marriage equality.

Liechtenstein

Marriage equality came up for discussion in parliament, the Landtag, in September 2021 and the parliamentary groups expressed support, contingent on there being a broad social debate before passage. One report said opposition party Democrats pro Liechtenstein opposes marriage equality because surrogacy allegedly is not in the best interests of children.

Mexico

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

Namibia

In January 2022, the Windhoek High Court ruled against recognition of foreign same-sex marriages.

Panama

Marriage equality cases have been stalled for several years at the Supreme Court of Justice, which is bound by the 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage equality ruling to rule for marriage equality. In October 2019, the National Assembly passed a series of constitutional revisions that included an explicit ban on marriage equality. Days of protests by students, LGBTs and others ensued and the package of revisions did not see a final vote.

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 June 2022, the Constitutional Court rejected cases seeking registration of Peruvian same-sex couples' marriages entered into in other countries. The court reportedly said that bringing in marriage equality requires a change in the nation's constitution, that it would be an abuse of the court's position to impose marriage equality, that the 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage equality ruling is not binding on Peru, and that the Inter-American human rights system suffers from "ideologization."

At the time of the Inter-American Court ruling — which is binding on 20 countries, including Peru — the president of Peru's Supreme Court of Justice, Duberlí Rodríguez, stated, "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."

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.

Slovakia

In June 2022, Slovakia's Constitutional Court said it will rule on recognition of same-sex marriages entered into in other countries.

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."

Thailand

In June 2022, the lower house approved two marriage equality bills and two civil union bills. That began a process in which the bills will be whittled down to one bill for each type of union and eventually see a final vote. In November 2021, the Constitutional Court upheld the nation's ban on marriage equality.

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 National Assembly's failure to take up the Equal Civil Marriage Bill. In October 2020, President Nicolás Maduro suggested the National Assembly should address marriage equality in its term that began in January 2021 but he later said it isn't a "priority."

Western Europe

The only nations in Western Europe without marriage equality are Italy and the microstates Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.