It finally happened. Same sex marriage is legal nationwide in the United States after a historic decision by the United States Supreme Court. A number of states had legalized same sex marriage some time ago, but the recent landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court made it illegal to stop same sex marriage at the state level. Now that anyone in any place in the United States can marry regardless of sexual orientation, the question being asked is: which country will be next?
There are unfortunately a number of countries where same sex marriage will probably remain illegal even in our lifetime. Even a number of world economic powers and developed nations with fairly solid human rights records as of late won’t be legalizing same sex marriage anytime soon – Japan and South Korea come to mind.
However, there are quite a few countries that will legalize same sex marriage sooner than later. Here’s a look at the next 10 countries that could or will legalize same sex marriage soon. Some of the countries on this list allow same sex marriage at the state level, and others have recently passed laws to legalize same sex marriage nationwide – the laws have simply not been implemented yet.
The idea of same sex marriage in Thailand has been considered for quite a while. Unfortunately, the frequent coups seem to hinder the progression of same sex marriage laws in Thailand. Thailand has perhaps the most accommodating LGBT rights in all of Asia, and destination weddings for same sex tourists from other countries are quite popular.
Last year, a same-sex-marriage bill in the Thai parliament had bipartisan support, but it was stalled because of the coup. Later in 2014, there were reports that a draft bill called the Civil Partnership Act, would be submitted to the Junta-appointed Thai Parliament. This bill was expected to give couples some of the rights of heterosexual marriages.
While Taiwan does not currently recognize any same sex unions, there has been talk about legalizing same sex marriage in Taiwan since as far back as 2000. In 2012, Taiwan’s Department of Legal Affairs conducted a study on the legality of same sex marriage by researching some countries where same sex marriage is legal, such as Canada.
A poll conducted last December found that 54% of people in Taiwan support same sex marriage. On December 22, 2014, a proposed amendment to the Civil Code, which would legalize same-sex marriage, was set to be put under review by Taiwan’s Judiciary Committee. In June, a senior Ministry of Justice official said that Taiwan would not legalize same sex marriage right now. Instead, Justice Chen Ming-tang said that a more gradual approach was necessary and that better protection for same sex couples in fields like healthcare and taxation was important.
Despite legal recognition of same sex couples and registered life partnerships since 2001, same sex marriage is still not legal in Germany. Even though many other countries in the EU have legalized same sex marriage, Germany still lags behind primarily due to right wing, Christian political parties being in power for so long.
The civil unions that exist in Germany do afford couples many of the same rights as a married couple, such as tax benefits and adoption rights primarily due to numerous individual court cases. Public opinion regarding same sex marriage and LGBT rights in Germany show the majority of citizens look favorably on gay rights, so it seems as soon as another party gains power in political office that same sex marriage will likely become legal. Polls show that 75% of Germans support same sex marriage.
A bill that would legalize same sex marriage was introduced into Slovenia’s parliament at the end of last year. It was progressing smoothly, but there is still talk of a possible referendum that could revoke the bill. Slovenia has said that if it went ahead, the referendum would put into question fundamental rights granted by the constitution.
Slovenia’s National Assembly voted to block the referendum in March, but proponents of the referendum appealed the decision. The legality of the referendum against same sex marriage was being debated by Slovenia’s constitutional court and the debate will continue when the Court returns from summer break on September 10.
The Czech Republic has offered registered partnerships for same sex couples since 2006, and each year the law allowing these civil unions gets more and more progressive. Civil unions in the Czech Republic offer many of the same rights as marriage, but not all of them. Joint adoption, widow’s pension and joint property rights are not covered by registered partnerships.
In April, it was announced that the ban on adoption in registered partnerships was set to be put under review by the country’s Constitutional Court. As these civil unions in the Czech Republic continue to move closer to marriage equality, it seems like full marriage equality is on the horizon in the Czech Republic.
Switzerland has recognized same sex registered partnerships since 2007, and it was the first country to pass any same sex union law by referendum. Same sex marriages performed outside of Switzerland are also recognized as registered partnerships in the country. The Swiss Federal Council released a Governmental report about marriage and new rights for families in March. This report opens the possibility to introduce a registered partnership for straight couples as well as same-sex marriage for gay and lesbian couples. A study in Zurich performed in February found that 71% of Swiss people were in favor of same sex marriage and adoption.
Finland is another country that has passed a same sex marriage law that hasn’t gone into effect yet. It was the last of the Scandinavian countries to legalize same sex marriage, and gay couples will officially be able to tie the knot in Finland in a few years once the law goes into effect.
The bill was approved in December, and Finland’s president signed it in February. However, because of other acts that require follow up changes, the same sex marriage law in Finland will not actually go into effect until March 1, 2017. Registered partnerships for same sex couples in Finland have been available since 2002.
Last month Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage by vote. The referendum showed that people in Ireland were ready for equal rights to be granted to same sex couples. Over 62% or voters voted yes on the Marriage Equality referendum to make same sex marriage legal in Ireland
The vote didn’t make same sex marriage legal immediately, though. The law granting equal marriage rights for same sex couples will not go into effect for some time. In fact, same sex marriage won’t become officially legal until the end of 2016, at the earliest – more likely it will be in 2017.
Even though Denmark legalized same sex marriage in June 2012, same sex marriage is still not legal in the Danish territory of Greenland. However, it’s going to be legal very, very soon. A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Greenland had its first reading in Greenland’s parliament on March 25, 2015, and the bill was unanimously approved on a second reading held just the next day.
This means that same sex marriage will be legal in Greenland when this bill officially becomes law and goes into effect on October 1, 2015. This new same sex marriage law in Greenland will replace the registered partnership law that has been around since 1996.
Just like the United States did earlier in the summer, Mexico’s supreme court recently ruled that denying same sex marriage rights at a state level was unconstitutional. Before the ruling, same sex marriage was legal only in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero and Quintana Roo, as well as the Federal District of Mexico City. However, unlike the ruling in the United States, the ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court does not invalidate any state’s laws.
This means that couples wishing to marry in a state where same sex marriage was not allowed must still seek individual injunctions. So, despite claims that same sex marriage is effectively legal nationwide in Mexico, there is still unfortunately some red tape surrounding Mexico’s claim of legalizing same sex marriage 100%. Same sex marriage in Mexico is about as close to being legal as possible, without officially being legal. It’s only a matter of time before all the red tape is cut.