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Plan B

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Day to Day Politics: How the world stands on marriage equality.

Sunday August 13 2017

More than 760 million people now live in countries where same-sex marriage is firmly legal.

2001 – The Netherlands

The Netherlands was the first country to pass legislation to allow same-sex couples to legally marry, divorce and adopt children

2003 – Belgium

Belgium’s parliament voted to allow same-sex marriage in 2003, with legislation in 2006 granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children.

2005 – Spain and CanadaIn 2005 Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalise same-sex marriage. Parliament passed legislation after a steady march of court rulings had legalised the practice in the majority of the country’s provinces.

The Conservative Party attempted to repeal the legislation one year later but was defeated.

Spain’s parliament narrowly passed some of the world’s most liberal marriage equality laws in 2005, extending full rights to same-sex couples.

The move saw protests from Catholic officials and brought large crowds to the streets in Madrid.

2006 – South Africa

South Africa’s parliament legislated for same-sex marriage in 2016, codifying a 2015 court decision which found that restricting marriage to heterosexuals was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

It remains the only country in Africa where same-sex marriage is lawful. The legislation passed with overwhelming support.

2009 – Norway and Sweden

Norway replaced its civil union laws with full marriage and adoption rights in 2009. Parliament was split over the issue.

In 2017 the Norwegian Lutheran Church, to which most Norwegians belong, voted to authorise its pastors to conduct same-sex marriage.

Sweden’s parliament passed same-sex marriage laws decisively in 2009, also replacing earlier civil union laws. The Church of Sweden allows clergy to officiate ceremonies.

2010 – Portugal, Iceland and Argentina

Portugal legalised same-sex marriage in 2010 through a parliamentary vote. In 2016 parliament overturned a presidential veto and granted same-sex couples the right to adopt.

Iceland’s parliament unanimously passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2010. Couples were already able to adopt.

The country’s Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, was one of the first to utilise the legislation, marrying her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir.

Argentina’s parliament narrowly passed same sex-marriage laws in 2010, following several regional areas passing civil union laws.

The law sparked outcry from Catholic groups in the country as it became the first in South America to legalise same-sex marriage.

2012 – Denmark

Denmark passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2012. Couples already had the right to register as partners and adopt children.

2013 – France, Brazil, Uruguay and New Zealand

New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific to legalise same-sex marriage when parliament comfortably passed the law in 2013. The law also allowed couples to adopt.

France legalised same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption in 2013, a move which attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters and counter-protesters.

Uruguay decisively passed same-sex marriage legislation in 2013. Couples already had the right to adopt.

Brazil became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage not through legislation, but with a court ruling.

The National Justice Council ruled in 2013 that civil registrars must offer same-sex marriage services, after several regions had already legislated for legalisation.

2014 – The United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland

In 2013 British parliament passed a law which would legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales the following year. In 2014 the Scottish parliament passed a similar bill.

Northern Ireland has not passed same-sex marriage legislation.

The Church of England remains opposed to same-sex marriage, despite ongoing internal debate over the issue.

The UK has performed hundreds of same-sex weddings in Australia for dual citizens.

2015 – Ireland, United States and Luxemburg

In 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the constitution protected the rights of citizens to marry, regardless of gender.

The divided Obergefell v. Hodges ruling instantly legalised same-sex marriage across all 50 states, several of which had already legislated the issue themselves.

It was the same year that Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.

The majority Catholic country voted in support of same-sex marriage with a majority of 62 per cent.

Luxembourg’s parliament overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage and adoption legislation in 2014, which came in to force on January 1, 2015.

Less than four months after the law came into effect, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married his partner, Gauthier Destenay.

2016 – Colombia and Greenland

In 2016 Colombia’s top court ruled that the country’s constitution guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage for LGBT+ citizens.

Greenland’s parliament unanimously voted to adopt the marriage and adoption legislation of its parent country, Denmark, in 2015. The legislation came into effect for 56,000 Greenlanders in 2016.

2017 – Finland

The Finnish parliament passed same-sex marriage legislation in late 2014, and in 2017 rejected a citizens’ petition to repeal the law.

The law came into effect this year. Every Nordic country now has legal same-sex marriage.

2017 – Germany

Pending – Taiwan

In 2017 Taiwan’s top court issued an ultimatum to the parliament: legislate same-sex marriage within two years or it will become legal regardless.

Some of the aforementioned countries have had same-sex marriage legalised from one to ten years. The fabrics of their societies have not unraveled; they haven’t been struck by lightning. They have not been tormented by natural disasters, or the wrath of God. They have not fallen off the face of the Earth and they have not tumbled into any sort of moral abyss.

On the contrary, the experience seems to have been a positive one, social harmony is constructive and the emotional, physical and sexual health of gay people has improved. Some of these countries even feature high in the” happiest countries” surveys and the divorce rate for gay couples is better than that of heterosexuals. I have read the after legislative experience of many of these nations and there is no evidence that same-sex marriage will have catastrophic consequences for society.

My thought for the day

“Change is a process, not an event.”



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  1. Glenn K

    me thinks this could be a defining battle for both Abbott and Dutton. Defining in so much that it will cost them their seats at the next election.

  2. Johno

    Well done New Zealand et al. Oh yeah, go the all blacks.(not that I care about sport, just love to see the aussies get a thrashing)

  3. Michael Taylor

    I do hope you’re right, Glenn. Better still, I would like to believe they’d lose their seat regardless of this issue.

    Before people of their electorate vote they really should ask themselves; “Am I really going to like the Australia these men want to give us?”

  4. Owen

    Previous polling suggests that the Government is out of step with Australians on this subject by huge margin… I don’t believe our Government to be representative of us .. If it were then surely taxation, corruption inequality etc would be addressed .. As far as our defence spending goes how many jets an subs has Vanuatu or Fiji..how many countries have they invaded…?

  5. Kyran

    Putting aside the seriously flawed process of this survey. Putting aside the woeful lack of leadership from our PM. Putting aside the absence of ‘the question’ or the ‘draft legislation’. Putting aside the skewed arguments being made about freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Putting aside the hateful and ill-founded comments being made by agenda driven nuph-nuph’s. Putting aside the non-binding effect of any outcome.
    I could go on, but you get my point. Put all of that aside. Another question has arisen, highlighted by the incompetence of these woeful morons.
    Exactly who do they represent? Is a politician elected to the HofR to represent their constituents or do the constituents elect a representative to decide everything for them?
    Did the constituents of Warringah elect the regrettable git to champion their needs or did they elect a collapsed catholic to present their views through a very narrow lens? Should he be representing his views, or actively campaigning to represent the views of his constituents?
    In the event of a ‘conscience vote’, whose conscience will be exercised? His, or that of his constituents? Yes, ok, ‘his conscience’ is an abstract too vague to warrant consideration. But you get my drift.

    “689 residents across the federal electorate of Warringah were asked if same sex couples should be able to get married; 69.7% of voters in Warringah agree same sex couples should be able to get married, 25.7% did not and 4.6% were undecided.”

    Total Liberal Labor Greens NXT One Nation Other Undecided

    Yes 69.7% 60.3% 88.0% 100.0% 84.4% 26.8% 48.1% 68.5%
    No 25.7% 35.4% 7.0% 0.0% 6.3% 68.3% 51.9% 21.9%
    Undecided 4.6% 4.3% 4.9% 0.0% 9.4% 4.9% 0.0% 9.6%


    Who do they represent? Yeah, ok, I didn’t think that through. We know who they represent. It’s indeed unfortunate that they don’t declare upfront that they have no intention whatsoever of doing their job on behalf of their constituents, only their vested interests.
    Thank you Mr Lord and commenters. Take care

  6. Keith

    Thanks John, a great article again.

    What the mail plebiscite is about is to try and save the inept LNP … millions of tax dollars being squandered. A further issue where the extreme right wing of the LNP is in control of how policy is formulated.
    A flag showing such an assessment is correct would be the subdued promotion of the yes vote by Turnbull and his cabinet ministers.
    But, I do not remember a plebiscite when Howard changed the law in relation to marriage.

    Hopefully, there will be a resounding yes vote, and potential rogue politicians think very carefully before going against the wishes of the people.

  7. helvityni

    It’s amazing that even the very ‘macho’ country like Argentina has legalized marriage equality, yet ‘the bloody best country in world’ hasn’t…

    The Netherlands is often the most progressive, but even South Africa is there…

    Are we deliberately wanting to be the last one in the race when it comes to the SSM…?

  8. wam

    nice list, Lord. only 6 800 000 000 people to go.
    glenn why? dutton he calls for a recognition of the result and the rabbott is a rank catholic. It is trumball the mindchanger(processed or event under the circumstances) who will go when the I don’t think it is a plebiscite from the AEC because of advertising regulations, but as long as the ABS keeps the yanks out the vote should favour the no vote and the result will depend on who is the nastiest advocate.

    ps as well as pollies lot of legals making the ruling on same sex?

    pps any no voters here?

  9. John Lord


  10. lefturnahead

    Thanks for a good article,and i cant believe we hav’nt followed suit,it is pathetic.
    Has’nt Malta also passed SSM laws or at least is pending?

  11. Kaye Lee

    The figures for last year show that half of all same-sex marriages and civil unions registered in New Zealand last year were to couples living overseas. 58% of the overseas same-sex couples were from Australia. A further 17% of same-sex unions were to Chinese couples.

    At least the kiwis are raking in the business.

  12. Andrew J. Smith

    Good article when most Australian media, politicians and related neither seem aware of the outside world nor do they want the public to know either; possibly well founded embarrassment. Government that operates through media sound bites, back stabbing and cultural wedge issues; precludes any change and innovation in Australia because it goes against the beliefs and culture of US led kooky conservative Christian and nativist ideology. Seems to confirm Murdoch, NewsCorp’s and the IPA’s need to make big business easier while turning the clock back to the 1950s…

  13. Florence nee Fedup

    I wonder if many realise little will change in society if legislation goes ahead. We will still have SS families with kids, Still have SS couples living together.

    What will happen the families and couples will have access to laws that support and protect legally married families. Such as next of kin and inheritance laws.

    Under the Rudd/Gillard government many laws were changed, bringing them in line under welfare etc.

    Government when it suits treats them same as hetrosexual couple.

    SSM is about justice and equity. No more no less.

  14. flogga

    Are you sure that none of the countries you mention haven’t been struck by lightning since legalising SSM?

  15. Terry2

    Kaye Lee

    17% of same-sex unions were to Chinese couples.

    Do you think that Ruddock’s review will recommend that Chinese restaurants should be able to refuse gay couples wedding receptions based on conscientious Taoist beliefs ? Will this include takeaway Peking Roasted Duck 北京烤鸭 and Spring Rolls 春卷 ?

    I hope not !

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