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 24 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 twelve 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  • Norway's "Registered Partnership" law, which took effect in 1993, was repealed when marriage was opened to same-sex couples.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  • Sweden's "Registered Partnership" law, which took effect in 1995, was repealed when marriage was opened to same-sex couples.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  • Iceland's "Registered Partnership" law, which took effect in 1996, was repealed when marriage was opened to same-sex couples.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"
  • In 2009, its scope was expanded to include New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna.
  • The law does not apply to French Polynesia.
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 23 March 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"
20[30] European UnionMalta Malta TBD
  • "Civil Union"

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.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

Ireland: The government announced plans to hold a referendum on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the first half of 2015.[34]

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.[35][36][37]

Luxembourg: The government expects same-sex marriage to be legalised by the summer of 2014.[38]

Malta: The governing Labour Party passed a Civil Union Act by which the country also recognizes "marriage celebrated abroad" as marriage.[39]

San Marino: An initiative aiming for recognition of marriage performed abroad was filed with the heads of state in April 2014.[40]

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.[41]

Switzerland: The opposition party Green Liberal Party of Switzerland submitted a bill to the National Council on 5 December 2013.[42]

Civil union[edit]

Croatia: In January 2014 the government submitted a Registered Life Partnership bill to parliament.[43] It had its first reading on 27 February 2014.[44]

Cyprus: The government announced plans to submit a Civil Union bill to parliament in April 2014.[45]

Estonia: On 17 April 2014, 40 members of the parliament submitted the bill to create cohabitation agreement.[46][47]

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.[48] On 12 November, the party Panhellenic Socialist Movement announced its intention to introduce a bill extending the registered partnership law to same-sex couples.[49][50]

Guernsey: In January 2014 it was announced that within the next twelve months Deputies will debate whether to accept a States-recognised civil union.[51]

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.[52][53][54]

Malta: A bill was passed by the parliament on 14 April 2014.[55] and signed into law on 16 April 2014. It is not in force yet.

Poland: On 29 January 2013 the opposition party Democratic Left Alliance submitted a bill to parliament.[56][57] On 1 July 2013 the party Palikot's Movement submitted its own bill.[58][59]

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.[60]

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%).[61] However, other polls have also placed Germany and France between 54% to 65%,[62] the UK at 61%.[63]

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.[64] In 2008 58% of the Norwegian voters supported the Marriage Act, which was introduced in the same year, and 31 percent were against it.[65] In January 2013 54.1% of Italians respondents supported same-sex marriage.[66] In a late January 2013 survey 77,2% of Italians respondents supported the recognition of same-sex unions.[67]

In Ireland, a 2008 survey revealed 84% of people supported civil unions for same-sex couples (and 58% for same-sex marriage),[68] while a 2010 survey showed 67% supported same-sex marriage[69] by 2012 this figure had risen to 73% in support.[70]

A March 2013 survey by Taloustutkimus found that 58% of Finns supported same-sex marriage.[71]

In Croatia, a poll conducted in November 2013 revealed that 59% of Croats think that marriage should be constitutionally defined as a union between a man and a woman, while 31% do not agree with the idea.[72]

In Poland a 2013 public poll revealed that 70% of Poles reject the idea of registered partnerships.[73] Another survey in February 2013 revealed that 55% were against and 38% of Poles support the idea of registered partnerships for same-sex couples.[74]

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.[61]

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. ^ AN ACT to regulate civil unions and to provide for matters connected therewith or ancillary thereto
  31. ^ (German) Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, Änderung
  32. ^ (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)
  33. ^ (Danish) "Homovielser i Grønland fra juli 2014". Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation. 19 November 2013. 
  34. ^ Kenny backs referendum on same sex marriage
  35. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 15
  36. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 204
  37. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 393
  38. ^ 6172A
  39. ^ Bill No. 20 - Civil Unions Bill
  40. ^ Duffy, Nick (8 April 2014). "San Marino: Governors to consider recognising overseas same-sex marriages". Pink News. 
  41. ^ Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill
  42. ^ (German) 13.468 – Parlamentarische Initiative - Ehe für alle
  43. ^ (Croatian) Saborska rasprava nastavlja se poslijepodne, dio aktivista izbačen zbog transparenta
  44. ^ (Croatian) PRIJEDLOG ZAKONA O ŽIVOTNOM PARTNERSTVU, prvo čitanje, P.Z. br. 584
  45. ^ Cyprus To Hold First Ever Gay Pride Parade
  46. ^ Gender-Neutral Cohabitation Bill Submitted to Parliament
  47. ^ (Estonian) Kooseluseadus
  49. ^ (Greek) Ανάληψη πρωτοβουλίας του ΠΑΣΟΚ για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  50. ^ (Greek) Τροπολογία για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης από το ΠΑΣΟΚ
  51. ^ "Deputies to debate civil unions within the next year". Guernsey press. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  52. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 239
  53. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 314
  54. ^ (Italian) Atto Senato n. 1211
  55. ^ Bill No. 20 - Civil Unions Bill
  56. ^ (Polish) Projekt ustawy o związkach partnerskich
  57. ^ (Polish) Przepisy wprowadzające ustawę o związkach partnerskich
  58. ^ (Polish) Projekt ustawy o związkach partnerskich
  59. ^ (Polish) Przepisy wprowadzające ustawę o związkach partnerskich
  60. ^ 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
  61. ^ a b "EU Public Opinion: SSM" (PDF). Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  62. ^ (French) "Couples homosexuels: Les Français sont pour l'adoption" [Gay Couples: The French are for adoption]. Le Journal du Dimanche. 27 June 2008. 
  63. ^ Church 'out of touch' as public supports equal rights for homosexuals, The Times, 27 June 2009
  64. ^ "New England's largest GLBT newspaper". Bay Windows. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  65. ^ AVJonathan Tisdall  . "Support for gay marriage - Aftenposten - News in English". Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  66. ^ (Italian) [1] Datamonitor, 7 January 2013
  67. ^ (Italian) Il Rapporto Italia 2013 | L'Italia del presentismo Eurispes, 31 January 2013
  68. ^ 31 March 2008 - 11:06:13 (31 March 2008). "''Increased support for gay marriage - Survey''". Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  69. ^ "Yes to gay marriage and premarital sex: a nation strips off its conservative values". Irish Times. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  70. ^ Poll finds Irish support for gay marriage at 73%
  71. ^ Poll: Over half of Finns favour same-sex marriage law
  72. ^
  73. ^ Polacy: Związki partnerskie? Niepotrzebne! [SONDAŻ TOK FM]
  74. ^ Sondaż: Polacy przeciwko związkom partnerskim. [SONDAŻ TNS OBOP]