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The Rainbow Wave for Marriage Equality

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The Rainbow Wave for Marriage Equality

Tracking the Progress of Marriage Equality Worldwide

Love wins! The fight for marriage equality has seen incredible progress worldwide, with a recent surge in legalizations. Across the world, 36 out of 195 countries have legalized equal marriage: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Uruguay.

In 2023, three new countries legalized same-sex marriage (Andorra, Estonia and Slovenia), and three more solidified legislative progress towards decriminalizing same-sex unions: a Japanese court ruled it is unconstitutional for the nation not to legally recognize same-sex unions. And the Supreme Courts of Nepal and Namibia recognized marriages of same-sex couples registered abroad. So marriage equality marches on! Already in 2024, two more countries have said "I do" to equal rights.  

According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, even more countries could legalize equal marriage in 2024. In particular, the Czech Republic, India, Japan, Nepal and Philippines show signs of growing support for marriage equality.

The fight for marriage equality isn't over, but the momentum is undeniable. IPPF stands with those working to make love win everywhere.

Thailand

Last month, IPPF welcomed the historic move by Thailand's House of Representatives to pass a marriage equality bill, paving the way for the country to become the first in Southeast Asia to guarantee equal marital rights for same-sex couples.

Our Member Association, the Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand (PPAT), celebrated this victory:

"This is significant because it legalises what we have been practising and advocating for so long – equal rights, equal treatment, and equal opportunities for all.” said Dr Nanthakan S. Woodham, Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association Thailand (PPAT). The organization has always been at the forefront of this advocacy, implementing projects to raise awareness about gender equality and providing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to all, with a special focus on the LGBTIQ+ community.

"This legislative success marks a monumental step forward for LGBTIQ+ rights, with Thailand emerging as a regional leader in advancing equality. Bold actions and demonstrations of equality are sending a loud message to other countries in Southeast Asia. IPPF is committed to energising this wave of transformational change, advocating for a world where sexual rights are human rights, free from discrimination and stigma,” said Tomoko Fukuda, IPPF ESEAOR’s Regional Director.

This development would position Thailand as the third country in Asia to embrace marriage equality, following Taiwan's adoption of same-sex marriage laws in 2019 and Nepal's similar legislation in 2023.

Read IPPF press statement here.

 

Photo credits: Canva

Thailand

Japan

March 2024 has been a great month for LGBTQ+ rights in Japan. On 14 March, both Sapporo High Court and Tokyo District Court ruled the governmental ban on equal marriage as unconstitutional. Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher Boram Jang said: “By recognizing that the government’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, these rulings make clear that such discrimination has no place in Japanese society. The Japanese government now needs to be proactive in moving towards the legalisation of same-sex marriage so that couples can fully enjoy the same marriage rights as their heterosexual counterparts.”.

A few days later, on 26 March, for the first time, Japan's top court ruled that same-sex partners of crime victims qualify for government benefits traditionally paid to bereaved family members, marking a landmark decision.

"The recent progress in Japan, where the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of same-sex couples to crime victim benefits, marks a significant milestone. We believe such advancements will inspire further recognition and action across the Asia Pacific, fostering a broader movement for diversity, equality, and inclusion, creating a ripple effect across the region,” said Tomoko Fukuda, IPPF ESEAOR’s Regional Director.

 

Photo credits: Canva

Japan

Andorra

Since 2020, the Andorran Parliament has been debating the legalization of equal marriage. For two years, bill after bill was rejected by the majority of  parliamentarians. In 2022, Andorra finally passed a new law, making marriage accessible to all. This law was finally implemented in 2023.

Today we vote for a law for all, which includes us all, a law of a modern country that ensures the free development of citizenship and bases its success on the most important nucleus of organization, the family, with all its diversity,” said Carles Enseñat, president of the Democratic Parliamentary Group.

 

Photo credits: Canva

Andorra

Slovenia

In 2023, Slovenia became the first post-communist country to legalize equal marriage and adoption. This major advancement was made possible by the Constitutional Court’s ruling in 2022 stating that allowing only heterosexual couples to get married was discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. As a result, the Court suspended the articles and required the parliament to amend the law within six months.

The Constitutional Court has ordered us to do it, and we will do it with the greatest pleasure,” said Luka Mesec, leader of the eco-socialist Slovenian ‘The Left’ party.

In October 2022, the Parliament amended the family law to legalize equal marriage. 48 deputies voted in favor, 29 against and one abstained.

 

Photo credits: Canva

Slovenia

Estonia

In 2024, Estonia became the first country in the Baltics to legalize equal marriage. The amendment of the 2016 Family Law allows lesbian and gay couples to get married and to adopt children. This was made possible by the growing support for equal marriage among the Estonian population. In 2023, the Estonian Human Rights Centre published the results of a poll conducted by Turu-uuringute AS: 53% of the population supports equal marriage. Support is even stronger among the younger generation: 75% of 20 - 29 year olds support equal marriage. Egert Rünne, Executive director of the Human Rights Centre commented: “This is a clear message to political parties: if they want to attract younger voters, they have to stand up for the human rights of all people in Estonia.”.

In June 2023, the Parliament adopted the amendment of the Family Law making equal marriage legal. “This is a decision that does not take anything away from anyone but gives something important to many. It also shows that our society is caring and respectful towards each other. I am proud of Estonia,“  Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said.

 

Photo credits: Canva

Estonia

Nepal

The journey to legalize equal marriage in Nepal began a long time ago. In 2007, the Supreme Court asked the government to form a committee to draft legislation on equal marriage. Eight years later, the committee released its recommendations: “[to] grant legal recognition to same-sex marriage on the basis of the principle of equality.” Unfortunately, the successive governments failed to adopt new legislation reflecting the recommendations. In March 2023, the Supreme Court demanded the recognition of the same-sex marriage of Pokhrel and Volz, which took place in Germany. In November 2023, the municipality of Lamjung recognized the marriage of Maya Gurung, a transgender woman who is still legally registered as male, and Surendra Pandey, a cisgender man. With this recognition, Nepal inches closer to marriage equality.

 

Photo credits: Canva

Nepal

Namibia

In May 2023, the Supreme Court of Namibia ruled that the government must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the country.

"Today's verdict and outcome clearly indicates that Namibia is moving towards recognising diversity in this country irrespective of people's political or social positioning," LGBTQI+ activist Linda Baumann said to Reuters.

This decision in Namibia is emboldening for the LGBTIQ+ community, as it took place in the context of context of growing anti-LGBTQI legislation across the region (for example, the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda).

 

Photo credits: Canva

Namibia

when

country

Estonia, Nepal, Namibia, Japan, Thailand

region

European Network, East and South East Asia and Oceania, South Asia

Subject

LGBTI+

Related Member Association

Eesti Seksuaaltervise Liit / Estonian Sexual Health Association, Family Planning Association of Nepal, Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand, Namibia Planned Parenthood Association

IPPF Advocates for LGBTQI+ Rights

IPPF champions bodily autonomy as a core principle. As part of the intersectional feminist movement, IPPF recognizes that the fight for SRHR is inseparable from addressing other forms of oppression and is a core part of the broader struggle for social justice. IPPF works to ensure freedom, equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in a society free from violence and discrimination.

IPPF demands LGBTQI+ rights be recognized as fundamental human rights everywhere. IPPF actively fights for the decriminalization of LGBTQI+ identities and dismantles systems that marginalize them. We work to empower LGBTQI+ communities and break down barriers to their full participation in society. We advocate for LGBTQI+ people to have equal rights and access to sexual and reproductive rights.