Global Landscape of Same-Sex Marriage: Progress and Challenges

News Asia 360
ByNews Asia 360

Thailand announced yesterday that they are on the path of legalizing same-sex marriage. In discussing this issue, let’s explore the current state of same-sex marriage laws around the world.

While significant progress has been made, particularly in Europe and the Americas, many regions still lack legal recognition for LGBTQ+ relationships.

Europe Paves the Way

  • Denmark took the first step in 1989 with civil unions, followed by the Netherlands becoming the first to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001.
  • Since then, 20 other European countries have followed suit, offering full marriage rights to same-sex couples.
  • However, some European nations like Italy and Hungary haven’t legalized marriage, opting for civil unions instead.
  • The European Court of Human Rights recently condemned Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine for failing to recognize same-sex couples.

Progress in the Americas

  • Canada became the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005.
  • The United States followed suit in 2015, though the first same-sex marriage there actually occurred in 1971 (finally recognized in 2019 after a long legal battle).
  • Nine Latin American countries now allow same-sex marriage, with Bolivia recognizing civil unions but not full marriage.

Asia: A Patchwork of Progress

  • Taiwan became the first Asian territory to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019.
  • Nepal’s Supreme Court recently allowed same-sex couples to register marriages, while Japan, though lacking national legislation, has some local recognition of same-sex partnerships.
  • Australia and New Zealand are the only other countries in the Asia-Pacific region with same-sex marriage laws.

Challenges Remain

  • While Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, it doesn’t allow them within its borders. The Middle East remains largely conservative, with several countries imposing the death penalty for homosexuality.
  • In Africa, South Africa stands alone as the only nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Conversely, many African countries criminalize homosexuality, with some imposing capital punishment.


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