Marriage Equality USA

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International Laws

Updated 10 July 2015.

(NOTE: We list Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, and Russia as European countries. Technically Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey are Euro Asian countries. Politically, Israel is officially recognized as a European country.)


Albania's governing party, the Democratic Party of Albania, proposed a law on 30 July 2009 that would allow same-sex marriages. However, for now only heterosexual marriages are recognized within Albania. The government has stated that the legislation is needed to stop discrimination against gay couples. A law was passed on 4 February 2010 by a unanimous vote to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but did not include the right to marry.


The Republic of Armenia does not recognize any marriage/unions/partnerships between individuals of the same sex.


Austria has provided rights for de facto same-sex unions since 2003. A Registered Partnership Bill took effect on 1 January 2010. On 1 August 2013 Austria became the 13th European nation to legally recognize the adoption of a child by unmarried same-sex parents. There is no same-sex marriage.


There are no established forms of legally recognized unions for same-sex couples. In 2010 two Azerbaijani MPs refused to attend European debates on same-sex marriage.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law; constitutional ban since 1994.


On 30 January 2003 Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law.


Bulgaria does not recognize any type of same-sex unions. The Constitution of Bulgaria defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, effectively prohibiting legalization of same-sex marriage.


On 15 December 2013 one quarter of the Croatian electorate voted to amend the country’s constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.


Cyprus' parliament was supposed to vote on civil unions on 9 July 2015, but the vote was postponed until September 2015. As of now there is no legal recognition for same-sex relationships. 

Czech Republic

On 15 March 2006 the parliament of the Czech Republic voted to override a presidential veto and allow same-sex partnerships to be recognized by law, effective 1 July 2006, granting registered couples inheritance and health care rights similar to married couples. The legislation did not grant adoption rights. The parliament had previously rejected similar legislation four times.


Denmark was the first country, in 1989, to allow same-sex couples to form "registered partnerships," giving them a status and benefits similar to marriage, including recognition for purposes of immigration. As of 01 July 2010 legally registered same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children together. On 07 June 2012 the Danish Parliament approved neutral-gender marriage, including marriages performed in the Church of Denmark, effective 15 June 2012.


See United Kingdom.


On 9 October 2014, the Estonian Parliament approved civil unions for all couples regardless of gender.

Faroe Islands

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in the Faroe Islands, but there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.


Same-sex partnerships have become legally binding in Finland. Finns who are at least 18 can register a same-sex union in a civil ceremony comparable to marriage. It also gives gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples when inheriting each other's property, in cases of divorce, and for the purposes of immigration. As of May 2009 same-sex couples may adopt the biological children of their partner. Legislation for same-sex marriage was submitted to the Parliament in March 2012, but it was turned down by the Legal Affairs Committee. The bill was reintroduced to the Parliament in December 2013 as a citizens' initiative, with the support 160,000 people, and went to introductory debate in February 2014.


On 23 April 2013 French parliament approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and adoption. President Francois Hollande signed the bill on bill on 18 May 2013.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law.


In Germany there is a legal recognition of same-sex couples. Registered life partnerships, "Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft," effectively, a form of civil union, have been instituted since 2001, giving same-sex couples rights and obligations in areas such as inheritance, health insurance, immigration, name change, and maintenance (alimony and child support). In 2004, this act was amended to include adoption rights (stepchild adoption only) and to reform previously cumbersome dissolution procedures with regard to division of property and alimony.

Later that year, the Social Democratic Party, one of the oldest and largest political parties in Germany, and the Alliance '90/The Greens (a political party founded in the 1970s, based on progressive social movements in Germany) proposed allowing same-sex marriage. However, in recent years the Social Democratic Party ceased to push for same-sex marriage, opting instead to equalize rights for registered partners.


(Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians overwhelmingly rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and again in 2002. Under the Gibraltar constitution of 2006, Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though some powers, such as defense and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of the UK Government.)

A bill providing civil partnerships for same-sex couples, with many of the benefits and obligations of marriage including the right to adopt, was approved on 21 March 2014.


The Greek Justice Ministry's civil-partnership bill, covering such matters as inheritance, insurance and taxes for same-sex couples, will be voted on in July 2015. Marriage is not legal for same-sex couples.


Greenland's Inatsisartut (parliament) unanimously approved marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples on 26 May 2015 - effective 1 October 2015.


Hungary was the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex partnerships.

Unregistered cohabitation has been recognized since 1996. It applies to any couple living together in an economic and sexual relationship (common-law marriage), including same-sex couples. No official registration is required. The law gives some specified rights and benefits to two persons living together. These rights and benefits are not automatically given – they must be applied for to the social department of the local government in each case. An amendment was made to the Civil Code: "Partners – if not stipulated otherwise by law – are two people living in an emotional and economic community in the same household without being married." Widow-pension is possible, partners cannot be heirs by law (without the need for a will), but can be designated as testamentary heirs.

The Hungarian Parliament on 21 April 2009 passed legislation by a vote of 199–159, called the Relationship Registry Act 2009 which allows same-sex couples to register their relationships so they can access the same rights, benefits and entitlements as opposite-sex couples (except for the right to marriage, adoption, IVF, surrogacy, taking a surname or become the legal guardian of their partner's child). The legislation does not allow opposite-sex couples to register their relationships (out of fear that there might be duplication under the law). The law became effective 1 July 2009.

On 30 June 2015, a bill was submitted to the Hungarian Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage.


On 11 June 2010 a law was passed to make same-sex marriage legal in Iceland. The law took effect on 27 June 2010.

Ireland (Republic of Ireland)

On 22 May 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize marriage equality by a vote of the people. The referendum states: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex." The result of the vote on the marriage referendum requires ratification in the Oireachtas before going into legal effect, though the BBC estimates that the first marriages of same-sex couples will take place in September 2015.


Marriages in Israel are performed under the authority of the religion to which the couple belongs. For Jewish couples the responsible religious authority is the orthodox Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The Rabbinate does not permit same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriages performed abroad can be recorded at the Israeli Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, according to a 2006 High Court of Justice ruling. Unmarried same-sex and heterosexual couples in Israel have equal access to nearly all of the rights of marriage in the form of unregistered cohabitation status, akin to common-law marriage. In June 2013, Hatnuah MKs introduced a bill that would provide for civil marriage in Israel for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, and in October 2013, Yesh Atid MKs, introduced a similar bill. On 12 August 2014 the Interior Ministry announced that non-Jewish (gentile) same-sex marriage partners of Jews living abroad will be permitted to immigrate to Israel and be granted Israeli citizenship. 


Pisa and Florence allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. On July 25, although the country will not, Bologna will recognize citizens' same-sex marriages that were legal where performed.


Kosovo's Constitution does not restrict its definition of marriage to the union between a man and a woman; however, same-sex couples are not currently recognized by law.


In December 2005, the Latvian Parliament passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga signed the amendment shortly afterward, making Latvia the third (after Poland and Lithuania) member state of the European Union to constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.


Registered same-sex partnerships were legalized in 2011.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law; constitutional ban since 1992. A bill intended to block events like gay pride marches, that would impose a fine for “contempt” of “moral values,” failed to get the necessary votes needed to be formally considered by Lithuania’s parliament on 13 March 2014. This proposal is one of several laws aiming to curtail LGBT rights slated to be taken up by the Lithuanian parliament during their spring 2014 session.


Same-sex marriage legal as of 1 January 2015..


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law.


As of 14 April 2014 it is legal for same-sex couples to enter civil unions and adopt children; the constitution forbids discrimination against transgender people; and same-sex marriages conducted abroad are recognized.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law; constitutional ban since 1994.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law; constitutional ban since 2007.


The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages on 1 April 2001.

Northern Ireland

See United Kingdom.


Same-sex marriage is legal in Norway. The Norwegian government proposed a marriage law on 14 March 2008 that would give gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, including church weddings, adoption and assisted pregnancies. On 29 May 2008, the Associated Press reported that two Norwegian Opposition parties came out in favor of the new bill; the bill passed when the vote was held on 11 June 2008. The bill also specified that when a woman who is married to another woman becomes pregnant through artificial insemination, the partner would have all the rights of parenthood "from the moment of conception" - the law became effective on 1 January 2009.

Norway was also the second country to legalize registered partnerships, doing so in 1993. Since 1 January 2009, all registered partnerships from 1993–2008 were, upon request by the couples, upgraded to marriage status.


The constitution defines marriage as "a union of a man and a woman." Three drafts of a bill proposing civil partnerships for same-sex couples were rejected on 25 January 2013 by the plenary session of the Sejm.


Same-sex marriage was approved by parliament on 8 January 2010. Portugal's parliament rejected proposals to allow homosexual couples to adopt. The Portuguese President ratified the bill on 17 May 2010. The law became effective on 5 June 2010.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage has been proposed. On 11 June 2014 the Chamber of Deputies, by an overwhelming majority, rejected a bill aiming to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples. The bill was initiated by Remus Cernea, a Romanian activist against discrimination, and the leader of the Green Party. Cernea plans to re-submit the bill proposal in the future.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law. On 30 June 2013 the Russian LGBT propaganda amendment was signed into law. This legislation amended the federal law "On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development" "for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values," and to prevent distribution of ideas regarding "non-traditional sexual relationships" among minors. The law created an effective ban on promoting the rights and culture of LGBT people, and has been criticized for leading to an increase and justification of violence against, and increased arrests and prosecution of, LGBT people. The law is attributed to an increase in homophobic violence in Russia by anti-gay groups. The passing of the law met with a major international backlash. LGBT rights activists, human rights activists, and other critics believed that the broad and vague wording of the "anti-gay" law made it a crime to publicly make statements or distribute materials in support of LGBT rights, hold pride parades or similar demonstrations, state that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships, or according to Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin, even display LGBT symbols such as the rainbow flag or kiss a same-sex partner in public. (NOTE: Most of this information comes from a variety of of mainstream news sources and Wikipedia.)

San Marino

There are no laws on same-sex marriage or registered partnership. Moreover, there are no cohabitation rights for either same-sex or opposite-sex couples.


See United Kingdom.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law; the constitution defines marriage as "a union of a man and a woman."


In June 2014 Slovakia’s parliament approved a constitutional ban of same-sex marriages. The amendment defines a marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. On 7 February 2015, an anti-gay referendum, forced by a petition campaign by the Catholic Church-affiliated Alliance For Family, that was meant to stiffen the existing constitutional ban and make it more difficult to undo the ban legislatively, failed dramatically!


In July 2006, Slovenia became the first former Yugoslavian country to recognize domestic partnerships nationwide. In December 2009 the Slovenian government approved a new Family Code, which includes same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. On 3 March 2015, the Slovenian Parliament legalized same-sex marriage.


Spain became the third country in the world (after the Netherlands and Belgium) to legalize same-sex marriage. After being elected in June 2004, Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero restated his pre-election pledge to push for legalization of same-sex marriage. On 1 October 2004 the Spanish Government approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, including adoption rights. The bill received full parliamentary approval on 30 June 2005 and passed into law on July 2, becoming fully legal on 3 July.


Following a bill introduced jointly by six of the seven parties in the Riksdag, a gender-neutral marriage law was adopted on 1 April 2009. It came into force on May 1 of that year, replacing the old legislation on registered partnerships. On 22 October 2009, the assembly of the Church of Sweden (which is no longer officially the national church, but whose assent was needed for the new practice to work smoothly within its ranks) voted strongly in favor of giving its blessing. In April 2015, Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary - The Guardian US.


Voters in the canton of Zurich voted 63 to 37 to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married opposite-sex couples. This includes tax, inheritance, and social security benefits. These rights are only given to same-sex couples who live in Zurich canton and who register with the government, promising to live together and support each other for six months.


No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law; the constitution defines marriage as "a union of a man and a woman."

United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales)

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales cleared the House of Lords and received Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth on 17 July 2013, making marriage legal for same-sex couples in England and Wales. The Act went into effect on 29 March 2014.

The Scottish Marriage and Civil Partnership Act went into effect on 16 December 2014. Any same-sex couple in a civil partnership can convert it into marriage, free of charge.

In April 2014 the Northern Ireland Assembly rejected a motion calling for the introduction of same-sex marriage during debate at Stormont. A total of 51 assembly members (MLAs) voted against the Sinn Féin motion, while 43 MLAs voted in favor. It was the third time in 18 months that Stormont rejected same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK which has not passed a law to introduce same-sex marriage.

Vatican City (Holy See)

Same-sex relationships are illegal in the Vatican City. In March 2012 the pope warned that changing the definition of marriage could have many cultural and political effects, reiterated Roman Catholic doctrine regarding same-sex relationships and quashed any hopes that the Vatican or Catholicism in general will alter their views. However, in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, published 5 March 2014, the pope said that "matrimony is between a man and a woman," but moves to "regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care," according to a translation by Catholic News Service. The Vatican denied the Italian media reports that the comments by Pope Francis signaled his openness to the legal recognition of same-sex unions in Italy.


See United Kingdom.