The 29 countries around the world where same-sex marriage is legal

Antoine Antoniol/Getty ImagesPeople demonstrate for the legalisation of gay marriage and parenting on December 16, 2012 in Paris, France.
  • There are currently only 29 countries that allow same-sex couples to marry.
  • The latest country to pass legislation is Costa Rica, which became the first Central American nation to allow same-sex marriage on May 26, 2020.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

People fighting for same-sex marriage rights around the world have seen global support increase in recent years. Australia,Malta, and Germany legalised same-sex marriage in 2017, and Taiwan made history in 2019, becoming the first government in Asia to welcome legislation on marriage equality.

Costa Rica became the first Central American country to legalise same-sex marriage on May 26, 2020.

“May empathy and love be the compass that guides us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone,” Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado Quesada wrote on Twitter following the ruling.

There are currently only 29 countries that allow same-sex couples to marry.

Keep scrolling to read the full list:

1. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriages.

Jasper Juinen/Getty ImagesRevelers on a boat parade the Prinsengracht canal participating in the Amsterdam Canal Parade during Amsterdam Gay Pride on August 2, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The legislation gave same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce, and adopt children.

Source: CBS News

2. Belgium followed suit in 2003 and granted equal rights to same-sex married couples.

flamenc/Creative CommonsWedding conducted by Lord Mayor Willy Demeyer in Leige, Belgium on July 13, 2013.

Beginning in 1998, the Belgian parliament offered limited rights to same-sex couples through registered partnerships. In 2003, the parliament legally recognised same-sex marriages.

Source: The Guardian

3. In 2005, the Canadian Parliament passed legislation making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

Ian Willms/Getty ImagesSpectators watch along Yonge Street, at the annual Pride Festival parade, July 3, 2016, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In 1999, some provincial governments extended common law marriages to gay and lesbian couples, providing them with most of the legal benefits of marriage but laws varied across the country.

Source: CBC News

4. Also in 2005, a closely divided Spanish parliament agreed to do the same.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty ImagesA reveler dressed with a gay pride flag walks the streets next to Cibeles Square before the Pride Parade during the Madrid Gay Pride Festival on June 29, 2016, in Madrid, Spain.

The law guaranteed identical rights to all married couples regardless of sexual orientation.

Source: New York Times

5. After South Africa’s highest court ruled the country’s marriage laws violated the constitution’s guarantee of equal rights, parliament legalised same-sex marriage in 2006.

Lesbian Angels/Creative CommonsLesbian Angels march at the Gay Pride in Johannesburg, South Africa, October 7, 2006.

Exemptions were also included in the new marriage law. Both religious institutions and civil officers could refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Source: NBC News

6. In 1993 Norway allowed gay couples to enter civil unions, but it took until 2008 for a Norway to pass a gender-neutral marriage law.

Graeme Maclean/Creative Commons

In January 2009, the bill was enacted into law, and gay couples were legally granted the right to marry, adopt children and receive artificial insemination.

Source: NBC News

7. In 2009, Sweden voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Sergey Ashmarin/Creative CommonsA pride flag waves on Saint James Church in Stockholm, Sweden, December 26, 2010.

The bill passed with 261 votes in favour, 22 votes against and had 16 abstentions.

Source: BBC News

8. Iceland’s parliament voted unanimously to legalise same-sex marriage in 2010.

Henna/Creative CommonsLGBT pride march in Reykjavik, Iceland, in August 2004.

Iceland’s then-Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir married her longtime partner Jonina Leosdottir as the law came into effect.

Source: The Telegraph

9. Portugal has also allowed same-sex marriage since 2010, after legislation was originally challenged by the country’s president.

Pedro/Creative CommonsA woman carries a flag during the LGBT march in Lisbon, Portugal, June 18, 2016.

Portugal had passed a measure legalizing same-sex marriage in February of 2010, but Portugal’s former president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, asked the Constitutional Court to review the measure. In April 2010, the Constitutional Court declared the law to be constitutionally valid.

Source: The Guardian

10. In 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to allow same-sex marriage.

Beatrice Murch/Creative CommonsLGBT Pride Marcha del Orgullo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 7, 2009.

Prior to the same-sex marriage law, a number of local jurisdictions, including the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires, had enacted laws allowing gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions.

Source: The Guardian

11. Denmark’s legalization came in 2012 after Queen Margrethe II gave her royal assent to the proposed legislation.

Ankara/Creative CommonsThe Danish National Association of Gays & Lesbians at Copenhagen’s LGBT Pride March in 2009.

Denmark was the first country to allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners in 1989.

Source: BBC News

12. Uruguay passed legislation allowing same-sex marriage in 2013.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Civil unions have been permitted in Uruguay since 2008, and in 2009 gay and lesbian couples were given adoption rights.

Source: BBC News

13. In 2013, New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific to legislate for same-sex marriage.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty ImagesPaul McCarthy and Trent Kandler walk down the aisle after being married at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, on August 19, 2013, in Wellington, New Zealand.

The law won approval by a 77-44 margin in the country’s legislature, which included support from former Prime Minister John Key.

Source: SBS News

14. President Francois Hollande signed a measure legalizing marriage equality in France in 2013.

Antoine Antoniol/Getty ImagesPeople demonstrate for the legalization of gay marriage on December 16, 2012, in Paris, France.

Hollande’s signature had to wait until a court challenge brought by the conservative opposition party, the UMP, was resolved. France’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, ruled that the bill was constitutional.

Source: The Guardian

15. Brazil’s National Council of Justice ruled that same-sex couples should not be denied marriage licenses in 2013, allowing same-sex marriages to begin across the country.

Mario Tama/Getty ImagesDrag queens Sara and Nina perform during an LGBT protest held inside the city council on May 16, 2017, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Prior to the law, only some of Brazil’s 27 jurisdictions had allowed same-sex marriage.

Source: The Australian

16. England and Wales became the first countries in the UK to pass marriage equality in 2014.

Rob Stothard/Getty ImagesPeter McGraith and David Cabreza married shortly after midnight at Islington Town Hall in one of the UK’s first same-sex weddings on March 29, 2014, in London, England.

Northern Ireland and Scotland are semi-autonomous and have separate legislative bodies to decide many domestic issues. In 2017, a judge dismissed two cases on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Source: BBC News

17. Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favour of of legalizing same-sex marriage later in 2014.

Mark Runnacles/Getty ImagesA couple are married shortly after midnight in one of the first same-sex weddings in Scotland on December 31, 2014, in Glasgow, Scotland

In addition to allowing same-sex couples to wed, the measure gave churches and other religious groups the option to decide whether or not they want to service same-sex marriages.

Source: BBC News

18. Luxembourg overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed and to adopt children that went into effect in 2015.

US Embassy Luxembourg/Creative CommonsLuxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (L) and his husband and First Gentleman Gauthier Destenay (R) celebrate with the American ambassador and his wife, July 3, 2014.

The bill was spearheaded by the country’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel. Bettel married his long-time partner Gauthier Destenay a few months after the legislation passed.

Source: Reuters

19. Finland approved a marriage equality bill in 2014.

Markus Koljonen/Creative CommonsHelsinki Pride 2007 marches through the street of Aleksanterinkatu in Helsinki, Finland on June 30, 2007.

The bill started out as a public petition and was passed with 101-90 votes.

Source: Reuters

20. Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote in 2015.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty ImagesThousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on same-sex marriage, May 23, 2015, in Dublin, Ireland.

62% of the referendum’s respondents voted “yes” to amend the Constitution of Ireland to recognise same-sex marriage. Thousands of Irish emigrants had travelled home to participate in the popular vote.

Source: BBC News

21. Greenland, the world’s biggest island, passed same-sex legislation in 2015.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesHomes are seen against the backdrop of mountains on July 28, 2013 in Nuuk, Greenland.

Although Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, it was not subject to Denmark’s 2012 ruling on legalizing same-sex marriage.

Source: Copenhagen Post

22. The United States Supreme Court made marriage equality federal law in 2015.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe US Supreme Court handed down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Same-sex marriage had been legal in 37 out of the 50 US states, plus the District of Columbia, prior to the 2015 ruling.

Source: CNN

23. Colombia became the fourth Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2016.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Same-sex couples were already allowed to form civil partnerships before the ruling.

Source: BBC News

24. In 2017, Germany became the 15th European country to allow same-sex couples to wed.

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesGerman Greens Party parliamentarian Volker Beck celebrates following a vote at the nearby Bundestag which approved gay marriage in Germany on June 30, 2017, in Berlin, Germany.

Germany gave full marital rights to homosexual couples in a vote that Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against.

Source: New York Times

25. In 2017, nearly all of Malta’s parliament voted in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesThe Grand Harbour as seen from Valletta on March 29, 2017, in Vittoriosa, Malta.

Despite opposition from the Catholic Church on the small Mediterranean island, marriage equality was passed by a landslide 66-1 vote.

Source: The Independent

26. Australia legalised same-sex marriage in 2017 after lawmakers enacted the will of the majority of citizens who overwhelmingly voted for the measure by postal vote.

Scott Barbour/Getty ImagesPeople gather in front of the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.

Same-sex couples were officially allowed to marry beginning January 9, 2018, more than a month after it was legalised in the country.

27. Taiwan made history on May 24, 2019, becoming the first place in Asia to pass laws on marriage equality.

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty ImagesSupporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside the parliament in Taipei on May 17, 2019.

Taiwan, which considers itself an independent democracy that champions human rights issues, passed a bill in favour of marriage equality by an overwhelming margin in 2019. The bill allows full legal marriage rights for same-sex couples and also offers limited adoption rights.

28. Ecuador’s highest court approved same-sex marriage in a 5-4 ruling.

AP Photo/Dolores OchoaGay rights activists protest outside of the Constitutional Court, waiting for the court’s decision on gay marriage, in Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

Ecuador has recognised same-sex partnerships since 2015, but the Constitutional Court officially approved same-sex marriages on June 12, 2019.

The court instructed the government to pass legislation that will cement equal rights for all citizens who wish to marry.

Source: BBC

29. Costa Rica became the first Central American country to legalise same-sex marriage on May 26, 2020.

Manuel Arnoldo Robert Batalla/Getty ImagesPeople celebrate the implementation of a bill allowing same-sex marriage on May 26, 2020, in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica passed a bill to allow same-sex marriage on May 26, 2020.

“May empathy and love be the compass that guides us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone,” President Carlos Alvarado Quesada wrote on Twitter following the ruling.

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