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.
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.
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.
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).
Britain's House of Commons has passed a gay marriage bill, the first step on the road to fully legalizing same-sex marriages.
The German parliament is currently debating whether gay couples in a legal partnership should have the same full rights as heterosexual married couples.
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