This Chart Shows Where Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal Around the World

Ireland and the U.S. may become the next countries to legalize it.

A couple kiss before what was billed as the world's largest communal gay wedding on Dec. 8, 2013, in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

May 21, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Michael Schramm is a University of Michigan student covering social justice and economics. His work has appeared in USA Today and The Michigan Daily.

On Friday, Ireland may become the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. In the coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on same-sex marriage.

It’s a significant moment of progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world. These shifts are being driven by many factors, notably that more LBGT people are coming out and asserting themselves in many aspects of society. More people are aware that they have gay or lesbian relatives, friends, and coworkers, which in some cases makes it easier to empathize with those who are unable to marry. In the U.S., much of the support for same-sex marriage is being driven by millennials. This week, a new poll found that a record 60 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage.

Here are the countries that have legalized same-sex marriage.

The Netherlands
In 2001, the Dutch parliament legalized same-sex marriage. The parliament also gave same-sex couples the right to adopt and divorce.

In 2003, Belgium’s parliament gave same-sex couples full marriage rights, including tax and inheritance.

In 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage. Some Canadian provinces had already granted same-sex couples the right to marry.


A Spanish couple celebrates its country's legalization of same-sex marriage. (Photo: Susana Vera/Reuters)

Spain’s parliament legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, despite heavy criticism from the Catholic Church, which remains a force in Spanish society.

South Africa
South Africa legalized same-sex marriage in 2006. Some religious institutions and officers may still decline to administer same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway in 2009.

Sweden’s parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009.

In 2010, Iceland’s legislature voted unanimously to approve same-sex marriage. Iceland elected Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world’s first openly lesbian head of state. In 2010, she married her partner.

In 2010, Portugal legalized same-sex marriage.


One of the first same-sex couples to marry in Argentina. (Photo: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

Argentina’s legislature approved same-sex marriage in 2010. It was the first country in Latin America to do so.

In 2012, Denmark’s parliament approved same-sex marriage. In 1989, it became the first country to allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners.

The country’s parliament approved same-sex marriage in 2013 with the approval of the country’s two legislative houses and President Jose Mujica’s signature.

New Zealand
New Zealand’s parliament legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.

French President François Hollande signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on May 18, 2013.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice allowed same-sex marriage on May 14, 2013.

England and Wales
In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II essentially approved a measure to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

Sarah Keith and Emma Powell were among the first same-sex couples to be married in Britain in 2014. (Photo: Luke Macgregor/Reuters)

The Scottish parliament approved a policy legalizing same-sex marriage on Feb. 4, 2014. However, churches and certain religious groups can still decline to administer same-sex marriages.

June 18, 2014, was the day that Luxembourg’s parliament approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriage and child adoption. The bill took effect in the following year and was heavily supported by Xavier Bettel, the country’s first prime minister.

Finland’s parliament legalized same-sex marriage in November 2014, and the country’s president, Sauli Niinistö, signed the law in February 2015. The law will not go into effect until 2017.