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Which countries have legalized gay marriage?

Which countries have legalized gay marriage?

LATEST UPDATE OCTOBER 2022: Mexico became country #33, Cuba country #32 and Andorra will become #34 in February 2023

We love getting inspiration for our next trip from books and movies, but when a country makes the gay press (in a positive way!), it definitely creates a new feeling of wanderlust for it. Malta is a classic example. It was a place that never featured heavily on our radar growing up (other than the Eurovision Song contest scoreboards). But since it began to pave the way for LGBTQ rights in 2014 it became top of our Bucket List and begged for us to visit. As a result, our gay Malta guide was born along with other beautiful Maltese memories.

This is our article dedicated to the progression of gay marriage laws in the world. Whilst the number of countries that have legalized gay marriage is a minority, the list slowly grows…we live in hope that one day we will have full equality across all 197 countries. One day!

We will keep this article updated when there is a new addition to our fabulous gay marriage club. We've also put together what we rate to be the most gay friendly countries in the world following each country's LGBTQ laws, and our own firsthand experience.

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34. Andorra: February 2023

Flag of Andorra blue, yellow and red

The General Council of Andorra passed the gay marriage law on July 21, 2022, which will come into effect from February 17, 2023.

33. Mexico: October 2022

Mexico green white red

On October 27, 2022, the state of Tamaulipas voted to allow gay marriage in Mexico, becoming the last of the country's 32 states to do so, which meant gay marriage was now legal nationwide.

Mexico's path to nationwide gay marriage began on December 21, 2009, when Mexico City became the first Latin American jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage and the first of Mexico's 32 states to do so. Over the next decade across the country, each state began to pass its own gay marriage laws, particularly after June 2015 when the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ruled that state bans on gay marriage violate the federal constitution.

32. Cuba: September 2022

Flag of Cuba with blue and white horizontal lines.

First Caribbean and Communist country to legalize gay marriage!

Gay marriage in Cuba was legalized on September 27, 2022. This followed a referendum where 66.9% of Cubans voted in favor. Initially, the government announced it would legalize gay marriage in May 2019.

The draft law was approved by the National Assembly of People's Power on December 21, 2021, and then by the Assembly on July 22, 2022. The referendum took place on September 25, 2022, President Miguel Díaz-Canel signed it into law on September 26 and it took effect on September 27.

31. Slovenia: July 2022

Flag of Slovenia with white red and blue horizontal lines.

First country former Yougoslavic country to legalize gay marriage!

Gay marriage in Slovenia was legalized on July 8, 2022. It followed a ruling of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia, which gave the Slovenian Parliament 6 months to amend the law. The National Assembly passed the act implementing the decision on October 4, 2022, in a 48–29 vote.

30. Switzerland: July 2022

Flag of Switzerland with red circle and white cross in the middle.

Switzerland's gay marriage laws came into effect on July 1, 2022. The gay marriage law was initially passed by the Swiss Parliament in December 2020 and then opened up to the public in a referendum on September 26, 2021, where it won with a 64% majority.

29. Chile: March 2022

Flag of Chile with semi circle in red and white and blue on top

Gay marriage in Chile came into effect on March 10, 2022. In June 2021, President Sebastián Piñera announced the gay marriage bill, which was eventually passed by the National Congress on December 2021. The law took effect 90 days later and the first gay marriage took place on March 10, 2022.

28. Costa Rica: May 2020

The flag of Costa Rica, our new entry this year in our top 25 gay countries in the world

First country in Central America to legalize gay marriage!

Costa Rica legalized gay marriage on May 26, 2020. On August 8, 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica declared the sections of the Family Code prohibiting gay marriage to be unconstitutional, and gave the Legislative Assembly 18 months to reform the law accordingly.

27. Ecuador: July 2019

Flag of Ecuador with red blue and yellow horizontal lines

Ecuador equalized gay marriage on July 8, 2019. This came after a Constitutional Court ruling on June 12, 2019, that stated the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional under Ecuador's Constitution.

26. Taiwan: May 2019

Taiwan flag for one of the most gay friendly countries in Asia

First place in Asia to legalize gay marriage!

On May 24, 2019, Taiwan made history by becoming the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage. It came after the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Judicial Yuan on May 24, 2017, which gave the Legislative Yuan 2 years to equalize gay marriages.

Despite strong opposition, including a referendum to prevent the recognition of gay marriages in November 2018, the government held strong and introduced the gay marriage law.

25. Austria: January 2019

The Austrian flag red with a white strip in the middle

Austria's gay marriage laws took effect on January 1, 2019. It started with the Constitutional Court's decision on December 4, 2017, which allowed the plaintiffs (a lesbian couple) to marry in Vienna on October 12, 2018 – famously becoming the first gay marriage in Austria. The law formally took effect nationwide on 1st January 2019 and gay marriages in Austria began from this date onwards.

24. Australia: December 2017

Australia, G'day everyone, we love how welcoming they are towards gay people

Australia legalized gay marriage on December 9, 2017, following a voluntary postal survey in which 61.6% of Australians came out in support of gay marriage. Subsequently, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 passed the Australian Parliament on December 7, 2017, received royal assent from the Governor-General on December 8 and came into effect the following day. The first gay wedding under Australian law was held on December 15, 2017.

23. Germany: October 2017

The flag of germany, a country which has a long LGBTQ history

First country in Central Europe to legalize gay marriage!

Germany's gay marriage law came into effect on October 1, 2017. The law passed the Bundestag on June 30, 2017, in a 393-226 vote, the Bundesrat on July 7, and signed into law on July 20 by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

22. Malta: September 2017

The flag of Malta, one of the most LGBT friendly countries in the world

Malta's gay marriage law came into effect on September 1, 2017, following the passage of legislation in Parliament on July 12, 2017. The vote was almost unanimous despite criticism from the Catholic Church. The bill was signed into law by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca on August 1, 2017.

21. Finland: March 2017

The flag of Finland, a very gay friendly country

Finland legalized gay marriage on March 1, 2017, becoming the last Nordic sovereign state to do so. The gay marriage bill was approved by the Finnish Parliament in a 101-90 vote on December 12, 2014, and then signed into law by President Sauli Niinistö on February 20, 2015.

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20. Colombia: April 2016

The flag of Colombia, one of the most gay friendly places in Latin America

Colombia's gay marriage law came into effect on April 28, 2016, following a 6-3 ruling by the Constitutional Court. The decision took effect immediately and the first gay marriage was performed in Cali on May 24, 2016.

19. Ireland: November 2015

The flag of ireland, a country who respects its LGBTQ community

First country to legalize gay marriage through a popular vote. 

Ireland's gay marriage law came into effect on November 16, 2015. It followed a referendum on May 22, 2015, where 62% voted in favor. Subsequently, the Marriage Act 2015 passed the Oireachtas on October 22, 2015, and was then signed into law on October 29, 2015.

18. United States: June 2015

The flag of USA, with some of the most gay friendly places in the world

The USA shook us all when it legalized gay marriage nationwide in June 2015. It followed the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. This was so monumental that the hashtag #LoveWins almost immediately became the No. 1 trending hashtag in the world on Twitter!

17. Luxembourg: January 2015

Flag of Luxembourg with blue, white and red horizontal lines

Luxembourg's gay marriage law came into effect on January 1, 2015. The bill was enacted by the Chamber of Deputies on June 18, 2014, then signed into law by Grand Duke Henri on July 4.

16. United Kingdom: March 2014

The UK has one of the highest numbers of gay prides in the world

In England and Wales gay marriage came into effect on March 13, 2014, in Scotland on December 16, 2014, and in Northern Ireland on January 13, 2020.

Gay marriage is legal in 8 of the 14 British Overseas Territories: South Georgia (2014), South Sandwich Islands (2014), Akrotiri & Dhekelia in Cyprus (2014), the British Indian Ocean Territory (2014), the Pitcairn Islands (2015), the British Antarctic Territory (2016), Gibraltar (2016), the Falkland Islands (2017), and Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (2017). It is not legal in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Gay marriage is legal in the Crown dependencies: the Isle of Man (2016), Jersey (2018), Guernsey (2017), Alderney (2018), and Sark (2020).

15. New Zealand: August 2013

The Kiwi flag, very similar to the Australian flag

First country in Oceania to legalize gay marriage!

Gay marriage in New Zealand came into effect on August 19, 2013. The New Zealand Parliament passed the Marriage (Definition of Marriage), Amendment Bill, by a margin of 77-44 on April 17, 2013, then received royal assent on April 19.

It entered into force on August 19 to give the Department of Internal Affairs enough time to make the necessary changes for marriage licensing and related documentation.

In terms of the Realm of New Zealand, gay marriage is only legal in the Ross Dependency in Antarctica. Gay marriage has not been legalized in the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau.

14. Uruguay: August 2013

Uruguay is one of the most socially advanced countries in Latin America

Uruguay's gay marriage law was legalized on August 5, 2013. It was passed by the Chamber of Representatives on December 12, 2012, in an 81-6 vote, the Senate on April 2, 2013, in a 23–8 vote, and back to the Chamber of Representatives on April 10 in a 71–21 vote, and subsequently signed into law by President José Mujica on May 3, 2013.

13. France: May 2013

The flag of France, a country which has a long history of laissez faire towards the LGBT community

France legalized gay marriage on May 18, 2013. It applies to both metropolitan France as well as to all French overseas departments and territories. The law was introduced to the National Assembly by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on November 7, 2012.

The National Assembly and Senate subsequently approved the bill allowing President Hollande to formally publish it in May 2013. The first official gay marriage in France took place on May 29, 2013, in Montpellier.

12. Brazil: May 2013

Flag of Brazil with green circle and yellow losange

Brazil legalized gay marriage on May 16, 2013. It followed a 14-1 decision from the National Justice Council ordering notaries of every state to perform gay marriages and convert any existing stable union into a marriage if requested to do so.

11. Denmark: June 2012

The Danish flag is red with a white cross in the middle

Denmark's gay marriage law came into effect on June 15, 2012. The gay marriage bill was introduced by the Thorning-Schmidt I Cabinet and approved by the Folketing (Danish Parliament) on June 7, 2012. It received royal assent from Queen Margrethe II on June 12 then took effect 3 days later.

Across the Danish Realm, Greenland legalized gay marriage on January 19, 2016, and the Faroe Islands on July 1, 2017.

10. Argentina: July 2010

The flag of Argentina, one of the gayest countries in the world

First country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage!

Argentina legalized gay marriage on July 22, 2010. The law was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on May 5, 2010, by the Senate on July 15, and then President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner gave her assent on July 21.

9. Iceland: June 2010

The flag of Iceland, one of the most gay friendly nordic countries

First country to legalize gay marriage with a unanimous vote!

Iceland's gay marriage law came into effect on June 27, 2010. The gay marriage bill was passed by the Althing (the Icelandic Parliament) on June 11, 2010, and nobody voted against it.

8. Portugal: June 2010

The flag of Portugal, a country we love going back to

Portugal's gay marriage law came into effect on June 5, 2010. The government introduced the law in December 2009, which was debated and then passed by the Assembly of the Republic in February 2010. It was then declared legally valid by the Portuguese Constitutional Court in April 2010, allowing President Aníbal Cavaco Silva to ratify it on May 17, 2010.

7. Sweden: May 2009

The flag of Sweden, a country we feel is one of the most gay friendly in Europe

Sweden's gay marriage law came into effect on May 1, 2009. The Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) initially passed the law on April 1, 2009. Subsequently, on October 22, 2009, the Church of Sweden voted 176–62 in favor of allowing its priests to wed gay couples. Gay weddings have been performed by the Church of Sweden ever since.

6. Norway: January 2009

The flag of Norway, Red with a white and blue cross

First country in Scandinavia to legalize gay marriage!

Norway's gay marriage law came into effect on January 1, 2009, after being passed by the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) in June 2008. One year after legalizing gay marriage, the country’s Lutheran Church voted to allow its pastors to marry gay couples in 2009. 

5. South Africa: November 2006

South Africa flag, the most gay friendly country on the continent of Africa

First country in Africa to legalize gay marriage!

The Civil Union Act 2006 came into force on November 30, 2006. It all began after the decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v Fourie on December 1, 2005, which extended the common-law definition of marriage to include gay spouses.

The Court gave Parliament 1 year to pass a law to equalize gay marriage. Subsequently, the National Assembly passed the law on 14 November 2006, which was subsequently approved by the National Council of Provinces on 28 November in a 36-11 vote. The law came into effect two days later.

4. Canada: July 2005

Gay flag of Canada with the red leaf in the middle, one of the most gay friendly countries in the world

First country in the Americas to legalize gay marriage!

The Canadian Parliament passed the Civil Marriage Act on July 20, 2005, following the Court of Appeal for Ontario's decision on June 10, 2003. This made Canada the 4th country in the world (and first outside Europe), to legally recognize gay marriage throughout its borders.

A later attempt was made to undermine this in 2006 by the former Conservative Party, but thankfully lawmakers defeated them leaving the law unchanged.

3. Spain: July 2005

Spain flag red and yellow, welcoming country for the LGBT community

On July 3, 2005, Spain became the 3rd country to legalize gay marriage. The campaign for it began in 2004 led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of the Socialist Workers' Party. The law was passed by the Cortes Generales (the Spanish Parliament) on June 30, 2005, by a 187–147 vote. The law was published on July 2 and took effect the next day, beating Canada by 17 days.

2. Belgium: June 2003

The flag of Belgium, a country which hosts some of the best gay parties in the world

On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the 2nd country in the world to legalize gay marriages. A bill for the legalization of gay marriage was passed by the Senate on November 28, 2002, by the Chamber of Representatives on January 30, 2003, then formally became law on June, 1 after King Albert II gave his royal assent.

This was broadened in 2004 to allow any gay couple to marry as long as one member of the couple had lived in Belgium for at least 3 months.

1. Netherlands: April 2001

The Netherlands has always been a very diverse country

Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage on April 1, 2001.

The Netherlands made herstory by becoming the first-ever country to legalize gay marriage. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives (109-33 votes) on September 12, 2000, and by the Senate (49-26 votes) on December 19, 2000.

The law received royal assent from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on December 21, 2000, and took effect on April 1, 2001.

In relation to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, gay marriage was legalized in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba on 10 October 2012. However gay marriage has not yet been legalized in Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.

Check out our complete gay city guide to fabulously gay Amsterdam
Long live the Netherlands!
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Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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