These 13 Countries Are More Gay Friendly Than America

Netherlands gay marriageDutch born Stephan Hengst (R) kisses his husband, American-born Patrick Decker, after being married by Amsterdam’s Mayor Job Cohen on an official wedding boat during the Gay Pride Canal Parade in Amsterdam August 1, 2009.

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing two huge gay marriage cases next week.

But America still lags behind several other countries when it comes to equality for gays and lesbians.

With nearly half of Americans supporting gay marriage, gay rights advocates are hoping the U.S. will follow the lead of western European governments in establishing stronger federal legal protections for gay couples.

Eleven countries have legalized same-sex marriage so far, according to the Pew Research centre, and seven of them are in western Europe or Scandinavia. And just one country each in Latin America and Africa allows gay couples to marry.

This list includes all the countries that have legalized gay marriage and a couple that have strong anti-discrimination laws and protections for same-sex relationships. 

The Netherlands was the first country to legalise gay marriage in 2000.

The groundbreaking law also gave couples in the Netherlands the right to adopt children.

Belgium followed suit and passed gay marriage in 2003.

Three years after it legalized gay marriage, Belgium gave gay couples the right to adopt, according to Pew. Belgium has also outlawed employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Spain legalized gay marriage by a close margin in 2005.

Before it legalized same-sex marriage, Spain already banned employment discrimination against gays, according to a Harvard Law publication on the subject. In 2007, Spain passed a law that let people officially change their gender before going through a sex-change surgery.

Canada also passed gay marriage legislation in 2005.

Canada amended its human rights law all the way back in 1996 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

South Africa became the first country in Africa to legalise gay marriage in 2006.

South Africa's ban on discrimination against gays in its 1994 post-apartheid constitution made it one of the first countries in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to the BBC.

Norway passed a law allowing gay couples to marry, adopt children, and have artificial insemination in 2009.

Norway has put pressure on the UN to ensure that all countries decriminalize homosexuality.

Sweden legalized same sex-marriage in 2009.

But same-sex couples have allowed to register for civil unions since 1995, according to Pew.

Portugal became the eighth country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2010.

The New York Times' Frank Bruni has noted that Portugal's decision to legalise gay marriage is remarkable given that it's tiny and 'overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.'

The Icelandic parliament legalized same-sex marriage in 2010.

Iceland is also the only country in the world to have an openly gay head of state, Reuters has pointed out.

Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in 2010.

But the couple pictured here faced extreme opposition when they tried to marry. A judge tried to prevent them from marrying just days before their planned wedding in December 2009, according to Reuters.

Denmark legalized gay marriage in 2012, but has recognised same-sex domestic partnerships since 1989 (the first country in the world to do so).

Denmark requires the state church to perform gay weddings, according to Pew. It was the first country to allow civil unions in 1989.

Britain's House of Commons has passed a gay marriage bill, the first step on the road to fully legalizing same-sex marriages.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) ranked the UK the best country in Europe to be gay.

The German parliament is currently debating whether gay couples in a legal partnership should have the same full rights as heterosexual married couples.

A recent poll found that two-thirds of Germans support gay marriage, The New York Times reported in February.

Now see what other countries have laws the U.S. should consider enacting.

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