Countries where gay marriage is legal

Steffi Loos/Getty Images Karl Kreile and Bodo Mende embrace after becoming Germany’s first married gay couple in October 2017

A ban on the marriage of same-sex couples in Costa Rica will be lifted by mid-2020, after the Supreme Court of the socially conservative country concluded that current laws outlawing such unions are unconstitutional and discriminatory.

In a 287-page ruling issued this week, the Central American nation’s legislators set a deadline of 18 months to institute same-sex marriage, after approving plans announced by the court in August. The legalisation was “a major campaign promise” for President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who took office in May, reports Voice of America.

Quesada has said that he wants to guarantee “no person will face discrimination for their sexual orientation”, adds the BBC.

Following the ruling, the president tweeted: “[This] is a big step forward toward equality…It’s now just a matter of time. Full equal rights will come, love will prevail.”

Costa Rica is the one of more than 30 countries that have either legalised gay marriage or are planning to in the near future.

Although the Danish are officially the pioneers of marriage equality, the Scandinavian nation’s Registered Partnerships Act of 1989 did not treat same-sex unions as “marriages” and therefore cannot qualify.

The Netherlands was actually the first country to put same-sex marriage on a par with heterosexual partnerships, with legislation introduced in 2001.

A spokesperson for the Dutch Embassy told The Washington Post: “We were always a bit ahead of other countries. We had those discussions years before other countries even started.”

However, while nations across the globe have followed suit, the road towards same-sex marriage has not always been a smooth one.

Bermuda became the first nation to repeal gay marriage rights in February, when the government announced that it would overturn a 2016 court decision that legalised same-sex marriage and introduce domestic partnerships for gay couples instead.

The decision prompted international criticism and calls for boycotts on travel to Bermuda. Cruise line Carnival Corp, one of several Bermuda-registered ships that had been performing same-sex marriages, provided “financial, public relations and civic support to [campaign group] OutBermuda in its efforts to challenge the island’s same-sex marriage ban”, according to NBC News. Amid mounting pressure, the ban on gay marriage was overturned in June.

Despite such setbacks, marriage equality achieved a major milestone in 2015 when the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage would become legal nationwide. At the time, 14 US states had bans on same-sex marriage. The announcement was met with joy by campaigners outside the court, who responded with “tears, hugs, and cheers of ‘USA USA USA!’”, the BBC reported.

Here is a complete list of the countries where same-sex marriage has been or is soon to be legalised:


Australia (2017)
Malta (2017)
Germany (2017)
Columbia (2016)
United States (2015)
Greenland (2015)
Ireland (2015)
Finland (2015)
Luxembourg (2014)
Scotland (2014)
England and Wales (2013)
Brazil (2013)
France (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
Uruguay (2013)
Denmark (2012)
Argentina (2010)
Portugal (2010)
Iceland (2010)
Sweden (2009)
Norway (2008)
South Africa (2006)
Spain (2005)
Canada (2005)
Belgium (2003)
The Netherlands (2000)

To become legal:

Austria (2019)

Taiwan (2019)
Costa Rica (2020)

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