Countries that have legalised same-sex marriages globally

More and more countries around the world are recognising same-sex marriages in recent times.

This means that two people who love each other, no matter their gender, can now get married in many places, just like any other couple. Equal marriage rights are growing and in countries like the United States, and Canada among others, people have already embraced same-sex marriage, and others are joining in.

Here is a compilation of countries that have legally recognised same-sex marriage


Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001 after three years of granting same-sex couples registered partnerships benefits in 1998. More than 18,000 same-sex marriages have since been registered with over 50 percent of them being lesbian marriages.


Belgium legalised same-sex marriages 21 years ago. Same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in the country since June 2003.


Canada became the fourth country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2005, after the passage of the Marriage for Civil Purposes Act. This change came after court rulings in eight provinces found the previous marriage laws unconstitutional.


Spain also legalised same-sex marriage in 2005, opening doors for same-sex couples to marry and be recognised by law. The Spanish Parliament passed the law amid strong public support for equal rights.

South Africa

South Africa became the first African country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2006 and remains the only African country to do same. The Constitutional Court's ruling required the government to amend marriage laws to ensure equality.


In 2009, Norway allowed same-sex couples to marry after the coming into force of a gender-neutral marriage law. The law passed with broad parliamentary support, following years of advocacy by LGBTQ+ groups.


Sweden joined in 2009, granting same-sex couples the right to marry. The Church of Sweden began permitting same-sex ceremonies shortly after the gender-neutral marriage laws were passed. Sweden is also known as the first country in the world to legally allow gender change in 1972.


With the first openly gay Head of State, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland became one of many countries to legalise same-sex marriages in 2010. The law was passed unanimously in parliament after an amendment to the country’s marriage law.


Portugal also embraced same-sex marriage in 2010, supporting the rights of all couples to marry. Same-sex parents were prohibited from adopting children until May 2013.


Argentina made history in 2010 as the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage. The law was passed after a heated debate in Congress and was supported by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.


In 2012, Denmark, which pioneered civil unions, legalised same-sex marriage. The Danish Parliament voted in favor of the law, replacing the registered partnership system.

Uruguay, New Zealand, France and Brazil

All four countries legalised same-sex marriage in 2013, promoting equality for all couples. In Uruguay, the law passed with strong support in both houses of Congress, following extensive advocacy efforts. New Zealand passed the law with a significant majority in parliament. After intense debate in France, same-sex was legalised and in Brazil, the National Justice Council, endorsed the law and indicated that all civil registries must perform same-sex marriages.

England and Wales and Scotland

England and Wales and Scotland both legalised same-sex marriage in 2014, supporting the love and rights of all couples. Parliaments of both countries passed the law to support this.

Luxembourg, Ireland, and U.S.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, who is openly gay, was among the first to marry his partner under the new law that legalised same-sex marriage in 2015. In Ireland, same-sex marriage was legalised through a public vote after which a referendum was passed with 62% approval. The United State’s Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges required all states to recognise same-sex marriages in 2015. 

Greenland and Colombia

Greenland and Colombia both embraced same-sex marriage in 2016. The law was passed in the Greenlandic Parliament, aligning with Denmark's marriage laws. Colombia’s Constitutional Court's ruling mandated marriage equality, reflecting growing societal acceptance. 

Finland, Germany, Malta, and Australia

All four countries legalised same-sex marriages in 2016. Finland’s same-sex marriage law was passed following a successful citizen's initiative and parliamentary approval. In Germany, the Bundestag passed the law, with Chancellor Angela Merkel giving members a free vote on the issue. A unanimous vote by Malta’s Parliament legalised same-sex marriages in the country. Following a national postal survey where 61.6% of voters supported marriage equality, same-sex marriage was approved in Australia.

Austria, Taiwan, and Ecuador

In 2019, Austria, Taiwan, and Ecuador recognised same-sex marriages in their respective countries.  In Austria, the change came after a Constitutional Court ruling mandated marriage equality. Taiwan made history in 2019 as the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. The law was passed following a 2017 Constitutional Court ruling. Ecuador’s Constitutional Court's ruling required the government to recognise same-sex marriages. Ireland endorsed the law after the 2015 public vote in favor of marriage equality.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica became the first Central American country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2020. The change followed an Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling and a landmark Supreme Court decision. 

Switzerland, Mexico, Chile, Slovenia, and Cuba

The five countries legalised same-sex marriage in 2022. Switzerland passed the law after a nationwide referendum where 64% of voters supported marriage equality. Mexico’s decision followed years of regional legal battles and growing public support. Chile got Congress’ support to pass the law. Slovenia’s legalisation followed a Constitutional Court ruling that mandated marriage equality. Cuba’s new Family Code, which includes marriage equality, was approved by a public referendum.


Andorra legalised same-sex marriage in 2023 and converted all civil unions into civil marriage.

Estonia, and Thailand

Estonia was the first Baltic country whose parliament voted in favor of new legislation legalising same-sex marriage in January 2024. Thailand recently became the first Southeast Asian country to approve same-sex marriages. The bill which was passed by legislation awaits assent by the country’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

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