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Author Topic: Timeline of Gay and Lesbian Marriage, Partnership or Unions Worldwide  (Read 3539 times)

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Timeline of Gay and Lesbian Marriage, Partnership or Unions Worldwide
« Reply #1 on: Thu, Apr 27, 2006, 06:07 »

Timeline of Gay and Lesbian Marriage, Partnership or Unions Worldwide

This "timeline" has been compiled by UK Gay News, with invaluable assistance from readers in Australia, Canada and Austria, from many websites. It reflects all known legislation worldwide, whether "strong" or "weak" that impacts on same-sex couples in a long-term relationship from 1979 to the present time. It should be noted that there are varying degrees of "equality"
If there are any omissions, inaccuracies or new legislation, please let us know (editorial @ - remove the spaces).
Please note that this listing is NOT copyright and can be freely used.
1979. The Netherlands introduced the "Unregistered Cohabitation" law which was the framework for the introduction over several years of limited legal rights for same-sex couples in areas such as income tax, social security, rent law, immigration rules and state pensions
1989. Denmark becomes the first country in the world to legally recognise gay relationships with its Registreret Partnerskab, with most (but not all) rights enjoyed by married couples. But church ceremonies are not permitted neither is adoption.
1993. Norway introduces Registrert Partnerskap which is similar to Denmark.
1994. Sweden introduces Registrerat Partnerskap - based on the Danish "model".
1996. Iceland introduces Staðfest Samvist, again similar to Denmark.
1996. Greenland, a self-governing part of Denmark, introduces Registrert Partnerskap.
1996. Hungary becomes the first country in the former Eastern European Bloc to introduce benefits for same-sex couples. The Unregistered Cohabitation Amendment to Civil Code gave all unmarried "common law" couples, including same-sex couples, limited rights and benefits which have to be applied for to the local government. Partnership legislation currently being discussed
1998. The Netherlands introduces Geregistreerd Partnerschap (registered partnerships) for both heterosexuals and homosexuals, giving couples the same rights and responsibilities as for married couples.
1999. France introduces a Pacte Civil de Solidarité or PaCS (civil contract) that gives some rights to cohabitating couples of all sexualities. Taxation, inheritance and adoption are not included in these rights.
2000. Vermont becomes the first state in the USA to introduce legislation recognising same-sex couples. Vermont Civil Unions give same-sex couples the same life insurance, health care and child custody benefits as married couples.
2000. Belgium introduces Cohabitation Légale/Wettelijke Samenwoning/Gesetzliches Zusammenwohnen (Legal Cohabitation) for same sex couples giving them the same rights and responsibilities as for married couples.
2001. In January in Canada, what is thought to be the world's first 'gay marriage' in a church took place in Toronto (the MCC church in the city on January 14, Douglas in Toronto kindly tells us). The ceremony was subsequently ruled "legal" by three Ontario Court of Appeal judges (2003). Other Canadian provinces introduced same sex marriage until earlier this year when the Parliament brought-in same-sex marriage nationally, confirming judicial rulings in some, but not all, provinces. A footnote to the Ontario Court of Appeal ... Canada's leading national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, named the three jurists as "Nationbuilders of the Year" for their decision.
2001. The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to introduce full civil marriage for same sex couples.
2001. Portugal introduces União de Facto / Economia Comum (Union of Fact/Common Economy) which extends to same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples living in a de facto union for more than two years. Very limited rights.
2001. Germany introduces Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft (Registered Life Partnerships) for same-sex couples. This includes the same inheritance and tenant rights as enjoyed by married couples.
2002. Finland introduces Rekisteröity Parisuhde which is similar to Denmark to almost complete the Nordic countries recognition of same-sex couples in a partnership - the exception being the Faroe Islands (self-governing part of Denmark).
2003. Belgium introduces full same-sex marriage.
2003. In Canada, an Ontario court rules that same-sex marriages are legal (the 2001 wedding at the Toronto MCC church was now legal). British Columbia and Québec embrace same-sex marriage.
2003. In Croatia, a law comes into force for same-sex civil unions whereby partners who have been together for at least three years can enjoy the same benefits as unmarried cohabiting opposite sex couples which are limited.
2003. In Buenos Aires, Argentina same sex partnerships were introduced. While the 350 or so same-sex couple in the capital city have taken advantage and enjoy most of the rights enjoyed by married couples (it does not include the right to adopt or inheritance rights, as these are federal matters), the remainder of the country is without any recognition. However, the Argentine Congress is currently going through the legislative process of implementing a new form of marriage aimed at same-sex partners, but will also be available to heterosexual couples. When passed, it will apply to the entire country.
2003. On the orders of the European Court of Human Rights, Austria gives cohabiting same-sex partners all the rights of unmarried cohabiting heterosexual partners (Karner v Austria)
2003. The Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the USA ordered state authorities to issue marriage licences for same-sex couples – and in 2004 this became effective. However, while same-sex marriages are legal, there are moves to ban them.
2004. The city of Portland in Oregon (USA) began issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. But an amendment to the state constitution was passed by the electorate in a referendum. The same happened in San Francisco, but this was short-lived following a court case.
2004. Luxembourg introduces Loi Relative aux Effets Légaux de Certains Partenariats (Law Relating to the Legal Effects of Certain Partnerships) which is based on the French PaCS.
2004. Brazil/Rio Grande do Sul - Civil union (see below)
2004. Tasmania in Australia introduces registered relationship or civil unions for all, regardless of sexuality, but with strict residency conditions. Tasmania's Relationships Act gives same-sex relationships equal status to heterosexual marriages under nearly all state laws, and covers areas such as property transfers and superannuation.
2004. Switzerland introduces Eingetragene Partnerschaft/Partenariat Enregistré/Unione Domestica Registrata (registered partnerships) which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in terms of pension, insurance and taxation. Adoption by same-sex couples is specifically not included.
2004. The United Kingdom Parliament passes legislation for “Civil Partnerships” which closely mirrors the Civil Marriage Act, but does not allow religion to form part of any ceremony. Civil Partnerships are virtually same-sex marriage in all but name and the legislative process was perhaps one of the least provocative anywhere, probably because the word "marriage" was not used. Under a different law, adoption by same-sex couples was already permitted.
2004. New Zealand Parliament passes an act that permits Civil Unions between same-sex couples.
2005 (March). Andorra introduces Unió Estable de Parella (stable union of [a] couple). This is open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Proof of a stable relationship is required to register with the 'Registry of Stable Unions'. Registered couples have most - but not all - of the rights enjoyed by married couples.
2005 (April). New Zealand civil union law comes into force.
2005 (April). Connecticut becomes the second state in the USA to permit same-sex civil unions, despite the state constitution specifically defining “marriage” as being between a man and a woman.
2005 (June). Spain passes legislation permitting same-sex marriage, with couples able to adopt. The legislation was enacted within weeks.
2005 (June). Slovenia introduces Zakon o Registraciji Istospolne Partnerske Skupnosti or ZRIPS (Law on the registration of same-sex unions/partnerships) for "Registered Same-Sex Partnerships". Very limited rights around property, the obligation to support the weaker partner and partial inheritance rights. Not included are next-of-kin or social security rights.
2005 (June). Canada introduces legislation that includes same-sex couples in marriage (and it applies throughout the country) following a bitter debate in Parliament which came close to bringing down the government. Some provinces had already introduced same-sex marriage, with the United Church of Canada, the MCC and Unitarian churches offering ceremonies. Adoption by same-sex couples is permitted. Where Canada arguably has the best legislation in the world is in the fact that anyone can get married in Canada, regardless of nationality or country of residence. However, there is no right of a Canadian citizen to bring a spouse into the country if he or she married outside of Canada. See also 2001 for Canada's (and probably the world's) first same-sex marriage in a church) and 2003 for first "legal" recognition..
2005 (November). Australian Capitol Territory (Canberra) in Australia approves civil unions for same-sex couples. But unlike the legislation in Tasmania, there is no residency requirement. The full impact for same-sex couples has yet to be assessed.
2005 (December). The Australian Defence Force (military) introduced for same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual partners in areas like housing and education assistance, and relocation. The areas of inequality that remain unaddressed are superannuation and Veterans Affairs (compensation upon death or injury)
2005 (December). Belgium introduces legislation that allows same-sex couple to adopt children.
2005 (December). High Court in South Africa rules that preventing same-sex couples from getting married was unconstitutional – and gives the government 12 months to bring into effect the necessary legislation.
2005 (December). UK Civil Partnership Act 2004 becomes law. Same sex couples are permitted to give “notice of intention” of registering civil partnerships from December 5. First civil partnership registrations/ceremonies in the UK are on December 19 in Northern Ireland, with Scotland following the next day, and England and Wales on December 21. However, in the Western Isles region of Scotland, registrars are refusing to perform civil partnership registrations on moral grounds - and the council is backing the registrars
2005 (December). Latvia becomes the first country in Europe and the European Union to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Constitutional Amendment passed its Parliamentary process on December 15 and now goes to the President for final approval.
2005 (December). Czech Republic Partnership Bill passed by Chamber of Deputies on December 16. The Bill now has to go before the Senate by mid-January 2006. If it fails at the Senate, it returns to the Deputies and then, after further approval, it can go directly to the President for signing.
2006 (January). Czech Republic Partnership Bill passed by the Senate (January 26) with a 45-14 majority (six Senators abstained). BUT ... President Vaclav Klaus has indicated (January 29, 2006) he will not sign the Bill into law.
2006 (February). Czech Republic Partnership Bill vetoed by President Vaclav Klaus (February 16)
2006 (March). Czech Republic Partnership Bill saved by the Chamber of Deputies in Parliament when President's veto was set aside, with 101 of the 171 deputies present voting in favour (March 15). To overturn a presidential decision, the Chamber of Deputies has to record an absolute majority of its 200 elected members - so the reversal was 'won' by one vote - the absolute minimum. The new law is expected to come into force by July 2006.
■ Legislation is pending in the Republic of Ireland (Civil Partnership), Hungary (Partnership, which will replace the Unregistered Cohabitation Amendment) and Liechtenstein.
Brazil. It is difficult to fit this country into a "timeline" as there is no specific national legislation for same-sex unions. However same-sex couples do have many rights that come as a result of anti-discrimination laws, and via the courts.
Brazilian law gives same-sex couples the right to inherit their partner's pension and social security benefits. Providing they can establish with the National Social Security Institute they are in a "stable union", they will be treated no differently from a married couple on retirement or death. The policy also allows people in same-sex relationships to declare their partners as dependents on income tax returns. All this is as a result of a court ruling and is not enshrined in specific law.
The state of Rio Grande do Sul has a "civil union registry" as a result of a court decision in March 2004. Same-sex couples in committed relationships are able to register at any notary public office. Although it does not affect federal rights, it gives same-sex couples more equality in many areas. Same-sex couples who register have the right to jointly own property, establish custody of children, and claim the right to pensions and property when one partner dies.
USA. Another complex country, in this case as a result of having 50 states, all with differing laws. Many states have implemented some degree of equality, especially in the workplace/pensions/health fields with domestic partner benefits. The majority of states have implemented constitutional amendments of laws defining "marriage" as being between a man and a woman, thus preventing in introduction of "same-sex marriage". As noted above, Connecticut has this definition, but this year introduced a form of civil partnership for same sex couples. Massachusetts introduced same-sex marriage on the order of the state's Supreme Judicial Court in 2004. There are moves to bring into effect either a redefinition to a "partnership" or bring in a law that would in effect reverse the court decision. Vermont was the first state to introduce same-sex partnerships (2000)
Thanks especially to ILGA-Europe for their assistance in compiling this listing. This listing will be kept up to date as other countries bring in legislation. Please let us know of any developments - as well as any errors or omissions above.
Also thanks to Geoffrey Williams of Australia's The Pink Broad for input on the situation "Down Under" - and in Brazil.
From Toronto, Douglas and Jim have spotted errors in our Canadian entries and provided additional information - corrections and additions have been made and Argentina was added thanks to "Yvon".
Kurt of the Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) in Wien (Vienna) provided invaluable information and clarification on Europe.
This list can be freely used, either with or without attribution.

Stonewall was a riot.
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