Guess which country legalised same-sex marriage first

India has fought a lengthy battle against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which dates back to 1861.

Published: 06th September 2018 04:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2018 05:05 PM   |  A+A-

An activist waves a rainbow flag LGBT pride flag after the Supreme Court verdict which decriminalises consensual gay sex outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI)

By Online Desk

Today, love won. The Supreme Court has delivered the highly-anticipated verdict of the Section 377 case. A five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, came to the unanimous decision to decriminalise homosexuality, marking a historic moment for citizens.

The nation has fought a lengthy battle against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which dates back to 1861. The law forbade any sexual activity that went against the order of nature. With this landmark ruling, India joins the following list of countries where same-sex relations are legal:

1.    Netherlands (2001)

The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage. The bill was put forward to the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2000, and took effect on 1 April 2001. The Dutch Caribbean municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba also recognise the law. However, the remainder of the Kingdom of Netherlands, including Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, do not perform same-sex marriages, but they must recognise those performed in the Netherlands as correct.

2.    Belgium (2003)

Previously, Belgium only permitted the marriage of foreign same-sex couples if their country of origin allowed it. However, same-sex marriages became legal on 1st June 2003 for all partnerships provided that one spouse has lived in the country for at least three months.

3.    Mexico (2009)

The right for same-sex marriage is only legal in certain jurisdictions of Mexico. On 17 May 2016, President Enrique Peña Nieto signed an initiative to legalise same-sex marriage throughout the country. However, on 9 November 2016, the Committee on Constitutional Issues of the Chamber of Deputies declined the initiative 19 votes to 8.

4.    Iceland (2010)

Legislation of the gender-neutral definition of marriage was introduced by the Coalition Government of the Social Democratic Alliance and Left-Green Movement, which put forward the notion of same-sex marriage. The legislation was passed by the Icelandic Althing and took effect on 27 June 2010. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and her partner were one of the first married same-sex couples in the country.

5.    Argentina (2010)

The Argentine Senate approved the bill for legalising same-sex marriages on 15 July 2010. While the Government supported it, the Catholic Church opposed it. At the time, polls indicated that 70% of Argentines were in favour of giving gay couples the same marital rights as heterosexual couples. The law finally came into effect on 22 July 2010, announced by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage. 

6.    New Zealand (2013)

The law in New Zealand only applies to the Realm of New Zealand and the Ross Dependency in Antarctica. Other New Zealand territories, such as the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue abide by their own laws and do not perform same-sex marriage.

7.    Finland (2015)

A citizen’s initiative in favour of same-sex marriage was presented to the Finnish Parliament in December 2013. The campaign had collected 166,000 signatures but was rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee twice. However, the bill passed the final vote on 12 December 2014 and was signed by the President on 20 February 2015. It wasn’t until 1 March 2017 that the law came into effect. It was the first time the Parliament of Finland had approved a citizens' initiative.

8.    United States (2015)

Same-sex marriage in the US was initially recognised on a state-by-state basis. On 26 June 2015, same-sex marriage was permitted across all 50 states following a landmark civil right ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Other countries on the list include:

1.    Canada (2005)

2.    Spain (2005)

3.    South Africa (2006)

4.    Norway (2008)

5.    Portugal (2010)

6.    Sweden (2009)

7.    Denmark (2011)

8.    Uruguay (2013)

9.    France (2013)

10. Brazil (2013)

11. United Kingdom (2013-2014)

12. Luxembourg (2014)

13. Ireland (2015)

14. Greenland (2015)

15. Colombia (2016)

16. Germany (2017)

17. Malta (2017)

18. Australia (2017)

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