These are the latest places to legalize gay marriage and partnerships

People take part in the annual Gay Pride parade along a Central Avenue, in San Jose, Costa Rica June 23, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate - RC1DA9D80880

28 UN member states have legalized same-sex marriage. Image: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

Harry Kretchmer
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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This article was updated in September 2021.

  • A Swiss referendum has backed same-sex marriage by a near two-thirds majority.
  • Northern Ireland, Ecuador and Costa Rica have all also recently changed their laws.

A referendum in Switzerland has backed legalising civil marriage and the right to adopt children for same-sex couples.

"Whoever loves each other and wants to get married will be able to do so, regardless of whether it is two men, two women, or a man and a woman," Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said, the BBC reported.

Here’s a round-up of the places that have most recently changed their laws in this area.

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1. Switzerland (2021)

Switzerland has agreed to legalise civil marriage and the right to adopt children for same-sex couples in a referendum.

Nearly two-thirds of voters backed same-sex marriage in the nationwide referendum. The new rules will likely come into effect from 1 July 2022.

Amnesty International said in a statement that opening civil marriage to same-sex couples was a 'milestone for equality'.

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2. Thailand (2020)

In July 2020, the Thai cabinet approved the draft Civil Partnership Bill.

The bill – subject to parliamentary approval – does not allow same-sex unions to be classed as “marriages” but does enable the partnerships to be legally registered.

Gay couples will also gain rights including being able to adopt children and jointly own property, although they are not eligible for certain tax breaks.

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3. Costa Rica (2020)

In May, Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to legalize gay marriage, and the sixth Latin American nation to do so.

In 2018, its highest court ruled that a ban was unconstitutional.

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5. Northern Ireland (2019)

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Northern Ireland on October 2019 but it wasn’t until February 2020 that the first gay marriage took place.

The BBC explains that the change was partly technical, happening because Northern Ireland’s devolved parliament was in a prolonged state of suspension.

Northern Ireland was the last UK nation to legalize gay marriage after England, Wales and Scotland, which introduced the policy in 2014.

5. Ecuador (2019)

The fifth Latin American country to approve same-sex marriage – in June 2019, Ecuador’s move followed Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil.

More limited ‘same sex unions’ had been recognized in Ecuador since 2015. However, this decision gave gay couples in the Andean mountain nation full marriage rights.

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