Centre Opposes Same-sex Marriage in SC; A Look at Countries Where It’s Legal

The Government of India has opposed the legal recognition of same-sex marriages in the country. In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Centre said same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships are a “distinctive” class of relationships and cannot be treated identically.

Citing the concept of Indian families, the Centre, in its affidavit, said, “Notion of marriage… necessarily and inevitably presupposes union bet 2 persons of the opposite sex. This definition is socially, culturally & legally ingrained into the very idea and the concept of marriage & ought not to be disturbed or diluted by judicial interpretation.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter on Monday.

According to the Centre, the legal recognition of the institution of marriage, “was limited to a relationship between a man and a woman, represented as a husband and wife.”

The government submitted that despite the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the petitioners cannot claim a fundamental right for same-sex marriage to be recognised under the laws of the country.

However, there are at least 32 countries around the world that recognize same-sex marriage, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a US-based LGBTQ advocacy group.

The US, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and Uruguay are among countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

United States

In the oldest democracies in the world, the US Supreme Court recognized gay marriage in 2015, pointing out that limiting marriage solely to heterosexual couples violated the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. Before the SC ruling, 36 States had already legalized same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court finally guaranteed the right at the federal level in 2015.

In 2003, Massachusetts became the first US state to legalise same-sex marriage, following a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court.

New Zealand

New Zealand decriminalized gay sex in 1986 and has been recognizing civil unions between same-sex couples since 2005. In 2013, New Zealand became the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.


Considered a hotspot for LGBTQ life, Taiwan legalized gay marriage in 2019. The annual pride parade in Taiwan attracts people from all over Asia. However, the law says both partners must be from a place where same-sex marriages are considered legal.


In 2017, Germany passed legislation for same-sex marriage.

(Photo: Reuters)


Same-sex marriage became legal on January 1, 2019. Though gay and lesbian couples in Austria could form civil partnerships since 2010, however, a court ruled in 2017 that civil partnerships were discriminatory.


Malta became the first country in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage in 2017. It also granted couples adoption rights after bringing amendments to the country’s Marriage Act.


After widespread public support for same-sex marriage, Finland’s Parliament approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 2014. However, the law came into effect in 2017.


Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular vote in 2015.


In 2016, a court in Colombia legalized same-sex marriage, stating that it does violate the constitution.


Greenland’s parliament voted unanimously to legalize same-sex marriage and granted adoption rights in 2015.


Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies approved a bill allowing same-sex marriage and giving couples the right to adopt children in 2014.


Despite protests by the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church, the Scottish Parliament gave its approval to legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in February 2014. However, the law did not force churches to conduct marriages of gay couples. Later, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Scotland decided to conduct the marriages as well.

(Photo: Reuters)


Civil unions of gay and lesbian couples were legal in Uruguay since 2008 and they got adoption rights in 2009. Later in 2013, Uruguay legalized same-sex marriage when the president signed a bill into law.

England and Wales

The British Parliament witnessed fiery debates over several months on same-sex marriage. In July 2013, the Parliament gave its approval to a same-sex marriage bill and the law took effect on March 29, 2014.


France’s highest court threw its weight behind a bill allowing same-sex marriage and adoptions by same-sex couples in May 2013.


In Brazil, same-sex civil unions were recognized in 2011 and they had the same rights as heterosexual married couples, including adoption and inheritance. In 2013, the country recognized same-sex marriage as legal nationwide.


Denmark was the first country in the world to allow same-sex couples the right to register as domestic partners in 1989. The country also allowed registered same-sex couples to adopt children in 2010. Later in 2012, Denmark brought a law legalizing same-sex marriage.


In 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to grant same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children.

(Photo: Reuters)


In 2010, Iceland’s Parliament unanimously voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Soon after the bill was passed, then Prime Minister, Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir, who was the first openly gay head of state in the world, married her long-time partner in one of the first same-sex marriages in the country.


The Portuguese Parliament passed a bill law allowing same-sex marriage in 2010. The law came into effect in June 2010. However, same-sex couples were granted adoption rights in 2015.


Same-sex couples got adoption rights in 2003. In April 2009, the Swedish Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in both religious and civil ceremonies.


In 2009, the law allowing same-sex couples to marry, adopt children, and undergo state-funded artificial insemination came into effect. The Lutheran Church of Norway also allowed its pastors to conduct same-sex marriages in 2017.


The Canadian Parliament legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2005. Even before this, the country’s federal government extended common law marriage rights to same-sex couples in 1999.


In 2017, Australia’s Parliament passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Before the bill was passed, a nationwide referendum was held and 62% of Australians supported marriage equality.

(Photo: Reuters)

South Africa

In 2006, South Africa’s Parliament voted to allow same-sex marriage. This came after South Africa’s highest court asked the government to the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.


The Spanish Parliament legalized same-sex marriage and granted same-sex couples inheritance, adoption, and divorce rights in 2005.


Though same-sex couples in Belgium were granted recognition through registered partnerships in 1998, the Parliament legalized same-sex marriage in 2003. Three years later, same-sex couples got the right to adopt children.


In 1998, the Netherlands extended marriage-related privileges to same-sex couples. Two years later in 2000, the parliament passed a bill that expanded the definition of marriage to include people of the same sex and also grant them adoption rights.


Ecuador’s Constitutional Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, saying that the ban was unconstitutional. Marriage equality took effect in Ecuador on July 8, 2019.

Costa Rica

Marriage equality became a reality in Costa Rica in 2020 after the National Assembly failed to enact a law legalizing same-sex marriage as per the directions of the Supreme Court.


In 2021, Chile’s president signed into law a marriage equality bill. However, same-sex civil unions had been legal in the country since 2015.


On July 8, 2022, the constitutional court of Slovenia ruled that the ban on same-sex marriages violated the constitution.


On December 16, 2020, the Swiss Parliament passed a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

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