Australians voted this week to legalize same-sex marriage following years of lawmakers and activists unsuccessfully rallying for legislation.
The results of a government survey, which showed 62 percent in favor of marriage equality for its LGBTQ+ community, opened the gate for Australia to become the 25th country to legalize marriage equality.
A huge shift in approval and acceptance of same sex marriage has occurred over the last decade: 20 of the 25 countries passed legislation in that time period alone. Public opinion in favor of same sex marriage in the U.S. has risen 25 percent since 2007, up to 62 percent, according to a Pew Research poll.
Here are the countries that have passed nationwide marriage equality thus far:
- Argentina (2010)
- Belgium (2003)
- Brazil (2013)
- Canada (2005)
- Colombia (2016)
- Denmark (2012)
- England and Wales (2013)
- Finland (2015)
- France (2013)
- Germany (2017)
- Iceland (2010)
- Ireland (2015)
- Luxembourg (2014)
- Malta (2017)
- The Netherlands (2000)
- New Zealand (2013)
- Norway (2008)
- Portugal (2010)
- Scotland (2014)
- South Africa (2006)
- Spain (2005)
- Sweden (2009)
- United States (2015)
- Uruguay (2013)
- Note: Mexico allows same sex marriage but only in some parts of the country.
Despite this progress, an overwhelmingly majority of countries still don’t allow LGBTQ+ couples to get married. There are more than 70 countries where homosexuality is still illegal, and 10 countries where those identifying as LGBTQ+ can be sentenced to death, the Human Rights Campaign reports.
While many countries without marriage equality have taken steps in favor of LGBTQ+ rights, several have yet to extend those rights to include marriage. Here are seven countries that may well be on their way:
Despite being part of the United Kingdom, where marriage equality became law in 2014, Northern Ireland outlaws same sex marriage. Additionally, neighboring Ireland approved marriage equality through public referendum back in 2015. Northern Ireland’s residents aren’t only surrounded by marriage equality, but 70 percent of them also support it. The support for same sex marriage also includes a majority of the country’s politicians, but legislation has been blocked five times since 2012 by the very powerful and very homophobic Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Although Northern Irelands’s courts say the issue can only be decided through the legislature and refuse to rule on the matter, advocates of marriage equality are still hopeful. Same-sex marriage can still be legalized if the United Kingdom government uses its reigning power over Northern Ireland to amend the law for them.
Switzerland is commonly thought of as one of the most socially progressive countries in the world. It was ranked fifth on the 2017 Social Progress Index based on human needs, wellbeing and opportunity. However, this progressivism doesn’t extend to same-sex marriage. The government has considered implementing a “marriage for everyone” initiative since 2013, when the law to legalize same-sex marriage was first proposed. Currently, that piece of possible legislation is under revision until 2019, so any further moves toward marriage equality are postponed until then. This amendment to Switzerland’s constitution would also need citizen approval through a public referendum, which would likely pass since more than 70 percent of Swiss citizens are in favor of marriage equality, a 2016 poll shows.
Taiwan is set to legalize same-sex marriage before May 2019, so it’s essentially a waiting game for the country’s LGBTQ+ community. The highest court ruled in May that laws banning same-sex couples from getting married were unconstitutional, and gave Taiwan’s government two years to enact same-sex marriage legislation before it automatically goes into effect anyway. There are no countries in Asia as of now that have legalized marriage equality, so Taiwan would become the first Asian country to do so if no other nations take action before them. Following the ruling, Taiwan’s gay pride parade in October attracted a record 123,000 people.
Israeli citizens overwhelmingly support marriage equality at 79 percent, according to an August poll. Still, the legislature has been unable to pass a law supporting same-sex marriages. Since the Israeli court said it wouldn’t rule on the constitutionality of marriage equality, Israel’s path forward remains up in the air.
Along with Switzerland, Austria is one of the few western European countries that hasn’t legalized same-sex marriage. Even so, the country does recognize same-sex partnerships and allows for full adoption when it comes to a partner’s child. Austria’s court is currently reviewing a case to legalize same-sex marriage, and the outcome looks promising. With the court’s ruling expected in December, Austrians could see marriage equality as early as 2018.
The country’s legislature recently eased its complete ban on abortions, and could potentially continue its progressive streak with marriage equality. Chile’s president introduced a bill to legalize same sex marriage in August, although her term is over soon in March 2018. South America has seen many countries approve same sex marriage in recent years, which could signal that the Catholic-concentrated continent is moving in a liberal direction that’s more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.
Nepal is an incredibly progressive Asian country with legislation that protects the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination. They also federally recognize a third, non-binary gender, allowing citizens to change their sex to “other” on their passports. But the country has yet to legalize same-sex marriage even after a government-commissioned committee of experts recommended in 2015 that marriage equality legislation be introduced. Nothing has happened since that report, but the government says it’s working on drawing up marriage equality laws.