There are some records of same-sex marriage dating back to the first century. But in the modern era, same-sex marriage started being legalized at the beginning of the 21st century.
With gradual progress in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, an increasing number of countries allow same-sex marriage.
People around the world promoting same-sex marriage benefits have seen an increase in global response in recent years.
So what country was first to make same-sex marriage legal?
In 2001, The Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, Belgium and Canada followed in 2003 and more have followed since. Australia, Malta, and Germany introduced same-sex marriage in 2017 and Taiwan made history, becoming Asia’s first country to accept marriage equality laws.
LGBTQ+ rights are changing for the better, however, homosexuality is still deemed illegal in more than 70 countries and territories – twelve of which still apply the death penalty and six more where the death penalty is a possible punishment. Read more on this topic below…
If you are in a hurry, here’s the full list and world map with all countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
Simply tap on each country, zoom in and out or use the search function on the map to find out if your preferred country offers legal marriage for same-sex couples.
List with all the countries where same-sex marriage is legal
- Costa Rica
- England and Wales
- Mexico (same-sex marriage is legal and performed only in certain states – see below)
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United States
Feel free to share this map online as much as you’d like. Please include attribution to The Gay Wedding Guide using the following code:
<a href="https://www.thegayweddingguide.co.uk/inspiration/countries-where-same-sex-marriage-is-legal/"><img src="https://www.thegayweddingguide.co.uk/wp-content/map/Static_map.jpg" alt="LGBTQ+ Rights Around the World" width="640px" />
Where same-sex marriage is legal? Know Before You Go
Across twenty-nine nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States, same-sex marriage has been legalized, and civil partnerships are recognized in other Western societies. But same-sex marriage is illegal in many nations, and the extension of wider lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) protections on a regional scale has been inconsistent.
And here is the full list with countries that have legalized same-sex marriage
Admits this, we have outlined countries that would very much welcome you and your partner as well as other countries you should avoid. There are a lot of golden places to choose from.
Netherlands (Date legalized: April 1, 2001)
Incremental reform arrived in the Netherlands – the first nation to allow same-sex marriage. In 1998 several of the marriage-related rights were applied to same-sex partners that required heterosexual spouses to do. Which allowed spouses of the same sex to marry, divorce, and adopt babies. Ultimately 4 same-sex couples married on April 1, 2001, followed by another 382 that month.
Belgium (Date legalized: June 1, 2003)
In 1998, same-sex couples in Belgium began to gain recognition through licensed unions but it was not until 2003 that Parliament legalized same-sex marriage. In 2006 same-sex spouses were given the freedom to adopt kids.
Spain (Date legalized: July 3, 2005)
The Spanish parliament approved same-sex marriage in a vote of 187 to 147, amid intense resistance from religious politicians and the Roman Catholic Church. Which gave succession, marriage and divorce rights to same-sex couples. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the progressive prime minister of the nation at the time, introduced the bill shortly after his 2004 victory.
Canada (Date legalized: July 20, 2005)
While Canada’s federal government expanded common law marriage privileges to same-sex spouses in 1999, Canada’s parliament approved same-sex marriage nationally not until 2005. As the governing Conservative Party of Canada sought to revive the discussion back in 2006, Parliament voted against the resolution.
South Africa (Date legalized: Nov. 30, 2006)
In November 2005, the highest court in South Africa ruled that the marriage laws of the nation breached the human rights provisions of the Constitution, and granted the government one year to change the legal concept of marriage to cover same-sex couples. On 14 November 2006, two weeks before the deadline, Parliament voted in a vast majority vote of 230 to 41 to remove the prohibitions on gay marriage
Norway (Date legalized: Jan. 1, 2009)
In 1993, same-sex partners in Norway were given the right to civil unions. Fifteen years later, the government repealed this decision with revised legislation authorizing same-sex spouses to wed, foster babies, and receive state-funded artificial insemination. The Act entered into effect on the first day of 2009.
In 2017, Norway’s Lutheran Church, of which about three-quarters of Norwegians adhere, introduced a gender-neutral language that would require same-sex weddings to be conducted by its priests.
Sweden (Date legalized: May 1, 2009)
Same-sex spouses in Sweden could apply for civil unions as early as 1995, but in April 2009, for religious and secular ceremonies, the Swedish Parliament agreed to allow same-sex marriage.
Although the legislation would not include the office of churches, in October 2009 the Lutheran Church of Sweden agreed to allow same-sex weddings to be carried out by its clergy. The same-sex partners had also been given marriage privileges in 2003, as well as artificial insemination privileges in 2005.
Portugal (Date legalized: June 5, 2010)
In early 2010 the Portuguese Parliament enacted a bill authorizing same-sex marriage. The statute was signed in May following review by the Constitutional Court, which entered into force in June 2010. However, the statute did not give the same-sex couples adoption privileges, so it wasn’t until 2015 – following four rounds of legislative motions – that a bill was enacted that provided for adoption.
Iceland (Date legalized: June 27, 2010)
The vote to add the gender-neutral terminology to Iceland’s marriage concept succeeded overwhelmingly in June 2010 in Parliament.
Argentina (Date legalized: July 22, 2010)
Argentina’s Senate barely approved a bill following hours of discussion allowing same-sex partners the freedom to wed, rendering it the first country in Latin America to do so. The Act also granted children the freedom to parent.
Mexico (Date legalized: Aug 5, 2010)
Same-sex marriage is legal and performed only in Mexico City and in the states of Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo and San Luis Potosí as well as in certain municipalities in Guerrero, Querétaro, and Zacatecas. All other states recognize such marriages when performed in other states.
Denmark (Date legalized: June 15, 2012)
Denmark, the world’s first nation to grant same-sex spouses the ability to marry as intimate partners (in 1989), started allowing same-sex couples eligible to adopt children in 2010. The government then officially allowed same-sex marriage in 2012.
Although the statute stipulates that the state church – Denmark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – allow same-sex couples to marry, clergy are not allowed to administer the weddings.
Brazil (Date legalized: May 16, 2013)
Brazil has recognized civil unions of the same sex since 2011 and given several of the same privileges to such partners as traditional married couples, including birth, succession, and pension benefits.
In 2013, with about half of Brazil’s states now accepting same-sex partnerships, the government has declared them legal internationally.
France (Date legalized: May 18, 2013)
Despite the Conservative Party’s failed legal appeal, France’s supreme court ruled in May 2013 in favor of a law enabling same-sex adoption and gay people to adopt. President Francois Hollande, who had been elected a year before, and his Radical Party put the bill forward.
England and Wales (Date legalized: March 29, 2014)
Months of controversy began in the British Parliament when a bill on same-sex marriage passed in July 2013, and the Queen approved it the next day. The statute fell into practice on 29 March 2014, when the first same-sex weddings took place in England. The legislation which extends to England and Wales does not permit same-sex marriages within the English Church.
Uruguay (Date legalized: Aug. 5, 2013)
Uruguay was the second Latin American country to allow same-sex marriage when on May 3, 2013, the president signed a bill, but it did not fall into force until Aug. 5 of that year. Since 2008, civil unions between gay and lesbian partners have become legal and the adoption privileges have been extended in 2009.
New Zealand (Date legalized: Aug. 19, 2013)
On April 17, 2013, New Zealand passed an amendment to the 1955 Marriage Act that changed the definition of marriage as “the partnership between two persons, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” as well as changes to other legislation such as a law for adoption rights, to guarantee that same-sex couples would have the same benefits as heterosexual couples.
Scotland (Date legalized: Dec. 16, 2014)
In February 2014, the Scottish Parliament adopted the law allowing same-sex marriage, despite the face of demonstrations from the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church.
The law, which came into effect in December 2014, leaves it to the churches to determine whether or not they should be carrying out the weddings.
In 2017, the Scottish Episcopal Church agreed to conduct same-sex weddings, and the following year the Church of Scotland moved to introduce revised legislation that would then require her clergy to administer the weddings.
The regulations aren’t expected until 2021 for a full review.
Luxembourg (Date legalized: Jan. 1, 2015)
On June 18, 2014, Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies adopted a bill enabling same-sex spouses to both marry and foster children in the first significant overhaul of the country’s marriage laws since 1804.
The legislation fell into force the next year on 1 Jan.
Greenland (Date legalized: Oct. 1, 2015)
Greenland, an independent nation within the Kingdom of Denmark, was not immune to the 2012 reform to Danish marriage law.
Nevertheless, on May 26, 2015, the Inatsisartut, the country’s senate, overwhelmingly agreed to allow same-sex marriage.
The law, which also granted parental privileges, came into force on Oct. 1, 2015.
United States (Date legalized: June 26, 2015)
While 36 states have previously allowed same-sex marriage, a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively secured the privilege at the federal level.
The court held that restricting marriage to married partners contravened the 14th Amendment provision of fair rights.
Ireland (Date legalized: Nov. 16, 2015)
Since voting in support of changing the concept of marriage to incorporate gender-neutral language 62 per cent of Irish citizens (1.2 million people), Ireland became the first country to allow same-sex marriage through a popular vote.
Colombia (Date legalized: April 28, 2016)
Colombia allowed same-sex marriage in April 2016 with a court decision claiming that same-sex relationships don’t break the Constitution.
Previous court challenges against equal rights have contributed to legal gray fields and authorities failing to recognize same-sex partnerships but on April 7, when a lawsuit about equal rights was rejected by the constitutional court, the trend was set.
Finland (Date legalized: March 1, 2017)
Finland’s legislation to allow same-sex marriage, which Parliament passed in 2014, started as a collective initiative of over 160,000 signatures.
The President of Finland approved the law in 2015 but it did not fall into force until March 2017, rendering Finland the last Nordic nation to legalize.
Malta (Date legalized: Sept. 1, 2017)
Malta, a tiny Catholic country that was the first to prohibit homosexual conversion counselling in Europe, allowed same-sex marriage in 2017.
Malta has now provided same-sex spouses parenting privileges with the introduction of gender-neutral language in revisions to the country’s Marriage Act.
Germany (Date legalized: Oct. 1, 2017)
A few days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel rescinded her objection to a referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage, the law passed through a large referendum that achieved exactly that.
While Merkel also openly supported same-sex marriage, a survey commissioned by the German anti-discrimination authority showed that 83 per cent of Germans were in support of legalization.
Australia (Date legalized: Dec. 7, 2017)
Three weeks after a national vote showing 62 per cent of Australians supported marital equality, Australia’s parliament approved a law that allowed marital of the same sex.
Churches are not forced to administer the weddings, but employees in the service sector, such as florists and bakers, may break anti-discrimination legislation if they fail to accommodate same-sex couples.
Austria (Date legalized: Jan. 1, 2019)
Civil unions could be established between gay and lesbian spouses in Austria from 2010, but a court ruling in 2017 ruled that civil partnerships are unconstitutional.
The court noted that if the government were to enact laws prohibiting the marriage of the same sex, it will become legal Jan. 1, 2019.
Shortly after midnight that day, the first same-sex marriage occurred.
Taiwan (Date legalized: May 17, 2019)
A ruling of the Constitutional Court in 2017 ruled that Taiwan’s concept of marriage needed to be revised to cover same-sex couples.
The court granted the government relaxation of law until May 24, 2019. The legislature approved a law allowing same-sex marriage on May 17, 2019, rendering Taiwan the first Asian nation to do so.
Costa Rica (Date legalized: May 26, 2020)
On August 8, 2018, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court ruled the portions of the Family Code banning same-sex marriage to be illegal and granted the Legislative Assembly 18 months to amend the legislation appropriately, or the prohibition will be repealed immediately. The decision was released in the November 26, 2018 judiciary journal, ensuring that same-sex marriage should become legal on May 26, 2020, at the latest.
This above guide should be helping you in picking the perfect location. We wish you a Happy Married Life!
Where same-sex marriage is illegal and punished by death?
- Saudi Arabia
- Nigeria (the northern states)
- Somalia (Jubaland region)
In addition, the death penalty is a possible punishment in 6 other countries
- United Arab Emirates
To date, only 29 out of the world’s 195 nations have allowed same-sex marriage. While many same-sex couples have no option but to wait for their country to legalize same-sex marriage – others are together for decades before they can get married – this is what people in many countries who can choose to get married do later in life.
Attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples can be very different in some countries, so we’ve pulled together some of the best gay-friendly honeymoon destinations to help you decide where you want to travel after your gay marriage.
From luxury city and beach hotels to private hideaways in the mountains and countryside, we’re sure you’ll find something you like here. And if you can’t, ask us to help and we’ll source you a honeymoon hotel you’ll love.