Mapped: the countries that have legalised same-sex marriages

Members of the Australian parliament, from left, Cathy McGowan, Adam Brandt and Andrew Wilkie celebrate the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Gay marriage was endorsed by 62 percent of Australian voters who responded to a government-commissioned postal ballot by last month.   | Photo Credit: AP

The LGBTQ community across the world saw several highs and lows in 2017, but is ending the year on a high note. Australia legalised same-sex marriages on December 7, 2017, joining just a handful of countries across the world that have done so.

Malta, Germany, Finland and Austria also joined Australia this year, legalising gay marriages. In Austria, the law will kick in from January 1, 2019.

But forget equal economic rights, the topic of homosexuality is not only taboo but actually illegal — with punishments going up to the death penalty in some cases — in a majority of the countries worldwide. In India, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises homosexuality, and efforts of some parliamentarians to bring in new laws have not borne fruit.

Here is an interactive map of the status of same-sex marriage laws across the world.


Twenty-eight countries across the world have now legalised same-sex marriages. Thirteen countries offer civil unions and partnerships, all of which are in Europe except Chile and Ecuador. South Africa is the only African country to have legalised same-sex marriages.

Only certain territories of Mexico perform same-sex marriages, but the country unanimously recognises it. In Japan, some cities/wards issue a partnership certificate to same-sex couples.

San Marino is in the process of enacting civil union laws, while marriage laws are under debate in Panama.

Netherlands’ Aruba and UK’s Northern Ireland and Jersey have not legalised same-sex marriage. Instead, civil union/registered partnership is legal. But Aruba recognises marriages performed in Netherlands.

Armenia, Israel and Peru (as of 2017) recognise same-sex marriages performed in other countries, where it is legal.

The Taiwanese Supreme Court, in March 2017, ordered the legislature to either amend the existing laws or to introduce new laws within two years to legalise same-sex marriage. If this goes through, Taiwan would be the first Asian country to do it.

Death penalty

Also marked in the map are countries where the punishment for homosexuality goes up to the death penalty. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s (ILGA) 2017 report, there are four countries that have implemented the death penalty under Sharia Law - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan. In Nigeria and Somalia, the death penalty is implemented only in certain provinces. Though the death penalty is written into the law in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE and Mauritania, it is “not implemented for same-sex behaviour specifically”.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 11:38:39 PM |

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