Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe

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Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe
  Other type of partnership
  Unregistered cohabitation
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples

Legal recognition of
same-sex relationships
  1. Can be registered also in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
  2. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage

Commencement dates:
  1. To be determined
  2. June 1, 2014 for statewide
LGBT portal

Debate has occurred throughout Europe over proposals to legalize same-sex marriage as well as civil unions.

Currently 22 of the 50 countries and 4 of the 6 dependent territories in Europe recognize some type of same-sex unions, among them a majority of members of the European Union. Ten European countries legally recognize same-sex marriage, namely Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (except for Northern Ireland). An additional eleven countries have a form of civil union or unregistered cohabitation, as do four dependent territories. San Marino only allows immigration and cohabitation of a citizen's partner. Several countries are currently considering same-sex union recognition.

The constitutions of Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia and Ukraine define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Current situation[edit]


Country in force since notes
1[1][2] European UnionNetherlands Netherlands 1 April 2001
  • The law initially applied to the European Netherlands only.
  • On 10 October 2012 its scope was expanded to include the Caribbean Netherlands.
  • In Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten marriages performed in the other parts of the Netherlands can be registered.
2[3] European UnionBelgium Belgium 1 June 2003
3[4] European UnionSpain Spain 3 July 2005
4[5] Norway Norway 1 January 2009
  • Norway's "Registered Partnership" law, which took effect in 1993, was repealed when marriage was opened to same-sex couples.
5 European UnionSweden Sweden 1 May 2009
  • Sweden's "Registered Partnership" law, which took effect in 1995, was repealed when marriage was opened to same-sex couples.
6[6] European UnionPortugal Portugal 5 June 2010
7[7] Iceland Iceland 27 June 2010
  • Iceland's "Registered Partnership" law, which took effect in 1996, was repealed when marriage was opened to same-sex couples.
8[8] European UnionDenmark Denmark 15 June 2012
  • The law does not apply to the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
  • Denmark's "Registered Partnership" law, which took effect in 1989, was repealed when marriage was opened to same-sex couples.
9[9] European UnionFrance France 18 May 2013
10[10][11] European UnionUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 13 March 2014
  • The law does not apply to Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • In Scotland a separate law will come into force by late 2014.

Civil union[edit]

Jurisdiction in force since notes
1 Greenland Greenland
(constituent country of Denmark)
26 April 1996
  • "Registered Partnership"
2[12] European UnionNetherlands Netherlands 1 January 1998
  • "Registered Partnership"
  • The law initially applied to the European Netherlands only.
  • On 10 October 2012 its scope was expanded to include the Caribbean Netherlands.
3[13] European UnionFrance France 15 November 1999
  • "Civil Solidarity Pact"
  • The law does not apply to French Polynesia.
  • It initially excluded New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna. They have been included since 2009.
4[14] European UnionBelgium Belgium 1 January 2000
  • "Statutory Cohabitation"
5[15] European UnionGermany Germany 1 August 2001
  • "Registered Life Partnership"
6[16] European UnionFinland Finland 1 March 2002
  • "Registered Partnership"
7[17] European UnionLuxembourg Luxembourg 1 November 2004
  • "Partnership"
8[18] Andorra Andorra 2005
  • "Stable Union"
9[19] European UnionUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 5 December 2005
  • "Civil Partnership"
10[20] European UnionCzech Republic Czech Republic 1 July 2006
  • "Registered Partnership"
11[21] European UnionSlovenia Slovenia 23 July 2006
  • "Registered Partnership"
12[22] Switzerland Switzerland 1 January 2007
  • "Registered Partnership"
13[23] European UnionHungary Hungary 1 July 2009
  • "Registered Partnership"
14 [24] European UnionAustria Austria 1 January 2010
  • "Registered Partnership"
15[25] European UnionRepublic of Ireland Ireland 1 January 2011
  • "Civil Partnership"
16[26] Isle of Man Isle of Man
(British Crown Dependency)
6 April 2011
  • "Civil Partnership"
17[27] Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 1 September 2011
  • "Registered Partnership"
18[28] Jersey Jersey
(British Crown Dependency)
2 April 2012
  • "Civil Partnership"
19[29] European UnionGibraltar Gibraltar
(British Overseas Territory)
28 March 2014
  • "Civil Partnership"

Future legislation[edit]


Austria: The opposition party The Greens - The Green Alternative submitted a bill to the National Council on 20 November 2013. It was sent to the Judiciary Committee on 17 December 2013.[30]

Finland: A citizens' initiative by the Tahdon2013 campaign received the required number of signatures for a bill to be considered by parliament. The collection of signatures ended in September 2013. The bill was submitted to parliament on 13 December 2013. On 20 February 2014 a debate was held and the bill was sent to the Judiciary Committee.[31]

Germany: The opposition party The Left submitted a bill to the Federal Diet on 23 October 2013. It had its first reading on 19 December 2013.

Greenland: The government announced plans to have a law in force by 1 July 2014.[32]

Ireland: The government announced plans to hold a referendum on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the first half of 2015.[33]

Italy: Two bills were submitted to the Senate on 15 March 2013. A third bill was submitted on 5 April 2013. On 18 June 2013 the examination of those bills by several committees started.[34][35][36]

Luxembourg: The government expects same-sex marriage to be legalised by the summer of 2014.[37]

Malta: The governing Labour Party passed a Civil Union Act by which the country also recognizes "marriage celebrated abroad" as marriage.[38]

San Marino: An initiative aiming for recognition of marriage performed abroad was filed with the heads of state in April 2014.[39]

Scotland: A bill was passed by the parliament on 4 February 2014 and signed into law on 12 March 2014. It is not fully in force yet. The first marriages are expected to occur in late 2014.[40]

Switzerland: The opposition party Green Liberal Party of Switzerland submitted a bill to the National Council on 5 December 2013.[41]

Civil union[edit]

Croatia: In January 2014 the government submitted a Registered Life Partnership bill to parliament.[42] It had its first reading on 27 February 2014.[43]

Cyprus: The government announced plans to submit a Civil Union bill to parliament in April 2014.[44]

Estonia: Since March 2014 a parliamentary group has been working on a draft bill to establish civil partnerships.[45]

Greece: On 7 November 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in Vallianatos and Others v. Greece that excluding same-sex couples from registered partnerships is discriminatory.[46] On 12 November, the party Panhellenic Socialist Movement announced its intention to introduce a bill extending the registered partnership law to same-sex couples.[47][48]

Guernsey: In January 2014 it was announced that within the next twelve months Deputies will debate whether to accept a States-recognised civil union.[49]

Italy: On 20 March 2013 and 26 March 2013 Civil Union and Cohabitation bills were submitted to the Senate. On 18 June 2013 the examination of those bills by several committees started. A third bill was submitted on 19 December 2013. Its examination started on 4 March 2014.[50][51][52]

Malta: The abovementioned Civil Union bill had its first reading on 30 September 2013. The stage of second readings was finished on 16 December 2013. Committee Stage was finalised on 25 February 2014.[53] The bill was approved in the third reading on 14 April 2014 and awaits presidential signature.[54]

Poland: On 29 January 2013 the opposition party Democratic Left Alliance submitted a bill to parliament.[55][56] On 1 July 2013 the party Palikot's Movement submitted its own bill.[57][58]

European Union: Debate has occurred in the European Union over a proposal which would require each member to legally recognize each other's same-sex marriages as well as any member's civil unions and registered partnerships to ensure the right of freedom of movement for citizens' family members.[59]

Public opinion[edit]

Public support for same-sex marriage from EU member states as measured from a 2006 poll is the greatest in the Netherlands (82%), Sweden (71%), Denmark (69%), Spain (66%), Belgium (65%), Luxembourg (58%), Finland (54%), Germany (52%) and the Czech Republic (52%).[60] However, other polls have also placed Germany and France between 54% to 65%,[61] the UK at 61%.[62]

After the approval of same-sex marriage in Portugal in January 2010, 52% of the Portuguese population stated that they were in favor of the legislation.[63] In 2008 58% of the Norwegian voters supported the Marriage Act, which was introduced in the same year, and 31 percent were against it.[64] In January 2013 54.1% of Italians respondents supported same-sex marriage.[65] In a late January 2013 survey 77,2% of Italians respondents supported the recognition of same-sex unions.[66]

In Ireland, a 2008 survey revealed 84% of people supported civil unions for same-sex couples (and 58% for same-sex marriage),[67] while a 2010 survey showed 67% supported same-sex marriage[68] by 2012 this figure had risen to 73% in support.[69]

A March 2013 survey by Taloustutkimus found that 58% of Finns supported same-sex marriage.[70]

In Croatia, a poll conducted in June 2013 revealed that 55.3% of Croats think that marriage should be constitutionally defined as a union between a man and a woman, while 31.1% do not agree with the idea.[71]

In Poland a 2013 public poll revealed that 70% of Poles reject the idea of registered partnerships.[72] Another survey in February 2013 revealed that 55% were against and 38% of Poles support the idea of registered partnerships for same-sex couples.[73]

In comparison, support tends to be the lowest in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, and Romania. The average percentage of support for same-sex marriage in the European Union as of 2006 when it had 25 members was 44%, which had descended from a previous percentage of 53%. The change was caused by more socially conservative nations joining the EU.[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Dutch) Wet openstelling huwelijk
  2. ^ (Dutch) Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba
  3. ^ (Dutch) Wet tot openstelling van het huwelijk voor personen van hetzelfde geslacht en tot wijziging van een aantal bepalingen van het Burgerlijk Wetboek
  4. ^ (Spanish) Ley 13/2005, de 1 de julio, por la que se modifica el Código Civil en materia de derecho a contraer matrimonio
  5. ^ (Norwegian) Lov om endringer i ekteskapsloven, barnelova, adopsjonsloven, bioteknologiloven mv. (felles ekteskapslov for heterofile og homofile par)
  6. ^ (Portuguese) Lei n.º 9/2010 de 31 de Maio
  7. ^ (Icelandic) Lög um breytingar á hjúskaparlögum og fleiri lögum og um brottfall laga um staðfesta samvist (ein hjúskaparlög)
  8. ^ (Danish) Lov om ændring af lov om ægteskabs indgåelse og opløsning, lov om ægteskabets retsvirkninger og retsplejeloven og om ophævelse af lov om registreret partnerskab
  9. ^ (French) LOI n° 2013-404 du 17 mai 2013 ouvrant le mariage aux couples de personnes de même sexe
  10. ^ Marriage (Same-sex couples) Act 2013
  11. ^ Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014
  12. ^ (Dutch) Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba
  13. ^ (French) Loi n° 99-944 du 15 novembre 1999 relative au pacte civil de solidarité
  14. ^ (German) Gesetz zur Einführung des gesetzlichen Zusammenwohnens
  15. ^ (German) Gesetz über die Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft
  16. ^ (Swedish) Lag om registrerat partnerskap
  17. ^ (French) Loi du 9 juillet 2004 relative aux effets légaux de certains partenariats
  18. ^ (Catalan) Llei 4/2005 qualificada de les unions estables de parella
  19. ^ Civil Partnership Act 2004
  20. ^ (Czech) 115/2006 Sb. o registrovaném partnerství a o změně některých souvisejících zákonů
  21. ^ (Slovene) 2840. Zakon o registraciji istospolne partnerske skupnosti
  22. ^ (German) Bundesgesetz über die eingetragene Partnerschaft gleichgeschlechtlicher Paare
  23. ^ (Hungarian) 2009. évi XXIX. törvény a bejegyzett élettársi kapcsolatról, az ezzel összefüggő, valamint az élettársi viszony igazolásának megkönnyítéséhez szükséges egyes törvények módosításáról
  24. ^ (German) Gesamte Rechtsvorschrift für Eingetragene Partnerschaft-Gesetz
  25. ^ Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010
  26. ^ Civil Partnership Act 2011
  27. ^ (German) Gesetz über die eingetragene Partnerschaft gleichgeschlechtlicher Paare (Partnerschaftsgesetz; PartG)
  28. ^ Civil Partnership (Jersey) Law 2012
  30. ^ (German) Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, Änderung
  31. ^ (Swedish) Medborgarinitiativ till riksdagen med förslag till lagar om ändring av äktenskapslagen, lagen om registrerat partnerskap och lagen om fastställande av transsexuella personers könstillhörighet (MI 3/2013 rd)
  32. ^ (Danish) "Homovielser i Grønland fra juli 2014". Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation. 19 November 2013. 
  33. ^ Kenny backs referendum on same sex marriage
  34. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 15
  35. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 204
  36. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 393
  37. ^ 6172A
  38. ^ Bill No. 20 - Civil Unions Bill
  39. ^ Duffy, Nick (8 April 2014). "San Marino: Governors to consider recognising overseas same-sex marriages". Pink News. 
  40. ^ Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill
  41. ^ (German) 13.468 – Parlamentarische Initiative - Ehe für alle
  42. ^ (Croatian) Saborska rasprava nastavlja se poslijepodne, dio aktivista izbačen zbog transparenta
  43. ^ (Croatian) PRIJEDLOG ZAKONA O ŽIVOTNOM PARTNERSTVU, prvo čitanje, P.Z. br. 584
  44. ^ Cyprus To Hold First Ever Gay Pride Parade
  45. ^ Parliamentary Working Group to Codify Cohabitation
  47. ^ (Greek) Ανάληψη πρωτοβουλίας του ΠΑΣΟΚ για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  48. ^ (Greek) Τροπολογία για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης από το ΠΑΣΟΚ
  49. ^ "Deputies to debate civil unions within the next year". Guernsey press. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  50. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 239
  51. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 314
  52. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 1211
  53. ^ Bill No. 20 - Civil Unions Bill
  54. ^ "Same sex unions become legal - Celebrations in Valletta; Opposition abstains because of adoptions". The Times of Malta. 14 April 2014. 
  55. ^ (Polish) Projekt ustawy o związkach partnerskich
  56. ^ (Polish) Przepisy wprowadzające ustawę o związkach partnerskich
  57. ^ (Polish) Projekt ustawy o związkach partnerskich
  58. ^ (Polish) Przepisy wprowadzające ustawę o związkach partnerskich
  59. ^ Report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers in the context of freedom of movement for workers
  60. ^ a b "EU Public Opinion: SSM" (PDF). Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  61. ^ (French) "Couples homosexuels: Les Français sont pour l'adoption" [Gay Couples: The French are for adoption]. Le Journal du Dimanche. 27 June 2008. 
  62. ^ Church 'out of touch' as public supports equal rights for homosexuals, The Times, 27 June 2009
  63. ^ "New England's largest GLBT newspaper". Bay Windows. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  64. ^ AVJonathan Tisdall  . "Support for gay marriage - Aftenposten - News in English". Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  65. ^ (Italian) [1] Datamonitor, 7 January 2013
  66. ^ (Italian) Il Rapporto Italia 2013 | L'Italia del presentismo Eurispes, 31 January 2013
  67. ^ 31 March 2008 - 11:06:13 (31 March 2008). "''Increased support for gay marriage - Survey''". Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  68. ^ "Yes to gay marriage and premarital sex: a nation strips off its conservative values". Irish Times. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  69. ^ Poll finds Irish support for gay marriage at 73%
  70. ^ Poll: Over half of Finns favour same-sex marriage law
  71. ^ (Croatian) 55,3 posto Hrvata za brak žene i muškarca u Ustavu!
  72. ^ Polacy: Związki partnerskie? Niepotrzebne! [SONDAŻ TOK FM]
  73. ^ Sondaż: Polacy przeciwko związkom partnerskim. [SONDAŻ TNS OBOP]