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It has been more than two decades since the Netherlands made history as the first country to introduce marriage equality in 2001. Now legally performed and recognised in more than 30 countries, LGBTQ+ rights have come a long way as same-sex couples are able to enjoy the same legal benefits and status as their heterosexual counterparts in a number of places.

Despite this significant progress, a vast number of countries continue to only recognise civil unions or registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Others have laws that are not consistent across the nation, while others criminalise same-sex sexual activity entirely.

The legalisation of gay marriage has most typically taken place through legislation, as has been the case in countries like Australia, Switzerland and Ireland. Others, such as the United States and Costa Rica, legalised it as the result of a court decision.

GAY TIMES recognises that the process of legalisation varies across the world. This list is based on legislation and judicial decisions that resulted in equal marriage being introduced at a national level, as well as when this came into effect. It excludes countries that have introduced other recognitions, such as registered partnerships, as well as places like Mexico, where only civil marriages are recognised by law and access to same-sex marriage is uneven at the state and municipal level.

2001

  • Netherlands

2003

  • Belgium

2005

  • Spain
  • Canada

2006

  • South Africa

2009

  • Norway
  • Sweden

2010

  • Portugal
  • Iceland
  • Argentina

2012

  • Denmark

2013

  • Brazil
  • France
  • Uruguay
  • New Zealand

2014

  • England
  • Wales
  • Scotland

2015

  • Luxembourg
  • United States
  • Ireland

2016

  • Colombia

2017

  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Germany
  • Australia
Ted Eytan on Flickr

2019

  • Austria
  • Taiwan
  • Ecuador

2020

  • Northern Ireland
  • Costa Rica

2022

  • Chile
  • Switzerland
  • Slovenia