LGBT rights in Europe

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LGBT rights in Europe
Europe orthographic Caucasus Urals boundary.svg
Europe
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal in all 51 states
Legal in all 6 dependencies and other territories
Gender identity/expression Legal in 39 out of 51 states
Legal in 3 out of 6 dependencies and other territories
Military service Allowed to serve openly in 39 out of 47 states having an army
Allowed in all 6 dependencies and other territories
Discrimination protections Protected in 43 out of 51 states
Protected in all 6 dependencies and other territories
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
Recognized in 30 out of 51 states
Recognized in all 6 dependencies and other territories
Restrictions:
Same-sex marriage constitutionally banned in 13 out of 51 states
Adoption Legal in 22 out of 51 states
Legal in 5 out of 6 dependencies and other territories

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are widely diverse in Europe per country. 14 out of the 25 countries that have legalised same-sex marriage worldwide are situated in Europe. A further fifteen European countries have legalised civil unions or other forms of more limited recognition for same-sex couples. Additionally, Armenia and Estonia recognise legally performed same-sex marriages overseas, but do not perform them. The constitutions of Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine recognizes marriage only as a union of one man and one woman, and thus ban same-sex marriage.

The top three European countries in terms of LGBT equality according to ILGA-Europe are Malta, Norway and the United Kingdom.[1][2]

History[edit]

A participant of 2013 Prague Pride wearing a traditional Moravian dress (Hanakia) and a sign "Good day – Olomouc greets Prague"

Although same-sex relationships were quite common in ancient Greece, Rome and pagan Celtic societies, after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, severe laws against homosexual behaviour appeared. An edict by the Emperor Theodosius I in 390 condemned all "passive" homosexual men to death by public burning. This was followed by the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian I in 529, which prescribed public castration and execution for all who committed homosexual acts, both active and passive partners. Homosexual behaviour, called sodomy, was considered a capital crime in most European countries, and thousands of homosexual men were executed across Europe during waves of persecution in these centuries. Lesbians were less often singled out for punishment, but they also suffered persecution and execution from time to time.[3]

Since the foundation of Poland in 966, Polish law has never defined homosexuality as a crime.[4][5] Forty years after Poland lost its independence in 1795, the sodomy laws of Russia, Prussia, and Austria came into force in the partitioned Polish territory. Poland regained its independence in 1918 and abandoned the laws of the occupying powers.[6][7][8] In 1932, Poland codified the equal age of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals at 15.[9]

In Turkey, homosexuality has been legal since 1858.[10][11]

During the French Revolution, the French National Assembly rewrote the criminal code in 1791, omitting all reference to homosexuality. During the Napoleonic wars, homosexuality was decriminalised in territories coming under French control, such as the Netherlands and many of the pre-unification German states, however in Germany this ended with the unification of the country under the Prussian Kaiser, as Prussia had long punished homosexuality harshly. On 6 August 1942, the Vichy government made homosexual relations with anyone under twenty-one illegal as part of its conservative agenda. Most Vichy legislation was repealed after the war– but the anti-gay Vichy law remained on the books for four decades until it was finally repealed in August 1982 when the age of consent (15) was again made the same for heterosexual as well as homosexual partners.

Nevertheless, gay men and lesbians continued to live closeted lives, since moral and social disapproval by heterosexual society remained strong across Europe for another two decades, until the modern gay rights movement began in 1969.

Various countries under dictatorships in the 20th century were very anti-homosexual, such as in the Soviet Union, in Nazi Germany and in Spain under Francisco Franco's regime. In contrast, after Poland regained independence after World War I, it went on in 1932 to become the second country in 20th-century Europe to decriminalise homosexual activity[clarification needed] (after the Soviet Union, which had decriminalized it in 1917 under the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, but re-criminalized it in 1933 under Stalin), followed by Denmark in 1933, Iceland in 1940, Switzerland in 1942 and Sweden in 1944.

In 1956, the German Democratic Republic abolished paragraph 175 of the German penal code which outlawed homosexuality.[12] In 1962, homosexual behaviour was decriminalised in Czechoslovakia, following a scientific research of Kurt Freund that included phallometry of gay men who appeared to have given up sexual relations with other men and established heterosexual marriages. Freund came to the conclusion that homosexual orientation may not be changed.[citation needed] The claim that phallometry on men was the reason for decriminalization of homosexual behavior in Czechoslovakia is contradicted by the fact that it applied to women as well, as the notion of a male-specific fixity of sexual orientation as an argument for gay rights combined with the notion of female sexual plasticity is adverse to lesbian rights.[13][14]

In 1972, Sweden became the first country in the world to allow people who were transgender by legislation to surgically change their sex and provide free hormone replacement therapy.[15]

In 1979, a number of people in Sweden called in sick with a case of being homosexual, in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden became the first country in Europe from those that had previously defined homosexuality as an illness to remove it as such.[16]

In 1989, Denmark was the first country in Europe, and the world, to introduce registered partnerships for same-sex couples.[17]

In 1991, Bulgaria was the first country in Europe to ban same-sex marriage.[18] Since then, eleven countries have followed (Lithuania in 1992, Belarus and Moldova in 1994, Ukraine in 1996, Poland in 1997, Latvia and Serbia in 2006, Montenegro in 2007, Hungary in 2012, Croatia in 2013 and Slovakia in 2014).[18][19]

In 2001 a next step was made, when the Netherlands opened civil marriage for same-sex couples, which made it the first country in the world to do so. Since then, twelve other European states have followed (Belgium in 2003, Spain in 2005, Norway and Sweden in 2009, Portugal and Iceland in 2010, Denmark in 2012, France in 2013, the United Kingdom in 2014, Luxembourg and Ireland in 2015, Finland in 2017, Malta in 2017 and Germany in 2017).[citation needed]

On 22 October 2009, the assembly of the Church of Sweden, voted strongly in favour of giving its blessing to homosexual couples,[20] including the use of the term marriage, ("matrimony"). The new law was introduced on 1 November 2009.

Recent developments[edit]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe
  Marriage¹
  Foreign marriages recognized¹
  Other type of partnership¹
  Unregistered cohabitation¹
  Unrecognized
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples

¹ May include recent laws or court decisions which have created legal recognition of same-sex relationships, but which have not entered into effect yet.

Civil partnerships have been legal in Ireland since 2011. In 2013, the government held a constitutional convention which voted overwhelmingly in favour of amending the constitution in order to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. On 22 May 2015, Irish citizens voted on whether to add the following amendment to the constitution: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.". 62.1% of the electorate voted in favour of the amendment, making Ireland the first country worldwide to introduce same-sex marriage through a national referendum. Ireland's first same-sex marriage ceremonies took place in November 2015.

The Isle of Man has allowed civil partnerships since 2011, as well as Jersey in 2012.[citation needed] Liechtenstein also legalised registered partnership by 68 percent of voters via a referendum in 2011.[21]

On 1 January 2012, a new constitution of Hungary enacted by the government of Viktor Orbán, leader of the ruling Fidesz party, came into effect, restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples and containing no guarantees of protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation.[22]

In 2012, the United Kingdom government launched a public same-sex marriage consultation,[23] intending to change the laws applying to England and Wales. Its Marriage Bill was signed into law on 17 July 2013. The Scottish government launched a similar consultation, aiming to legalise same-sex marriage by 2015. On 4 February 2014, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill to legalise same-sex marriages in Scotland as well as ending the "spousal veto" that would allow spouses to deny transgender partners the ability to change their legal gender. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom which does not allow same-sex marriage.[24]

In May 2013, France legalised same-sex marriage, with French president François Hollande signing a law authorising marriage and adoption by gay couples.[25]

On 30 June 2013, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, signed the Russian LGBT propaganda law into force, which was approved by the State Duma. The law makes distributing propaganda among minors in support of "non-traditional" sexual relationships a criminal offence.[26]

On 1 December 2013, a referendum was held in Croatia to constitutionally define marriage as a union between a woman and a man. The vote passed, with 65.87% supporting the measure, and a turnout of 37.9%.[27]

On 27 January 2014 in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot deputies passed an amendment repealing a colonial-era law that punished homosexual acts with up to five years in prison by a new Criminal Code.[28]

On 14 April 2014, the Parliament of Malta voted in favour of the Civil Union Act which recognises same-sex couples and permits them to adopt children. On the same day the Maltese parliament also voted in favour of a constitutional amendment to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

On 4 June 2014, the Slovak parliament overwhelmingly approved a sitting social-democratic government sponsored Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, with 102 deputies for and 18 deputies against the legislation, fulfilling a 2/3 constitutional change requirement (minimum of 100 deputies out of 150 sitting MPs) for enacting this Constitutional amendment.[19]

On 18 June 2014, the Parliament of Luxembourg approved a bill to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption.[29] The law was published in the official gazette on 17 July and took effect 1 January 2015.[30][31][32]

On 15 July 2014, Croatian Parliament passed the Life Partnership Act giving same-sex couples all rights that married couples have, except for adoption.[33] However, the Act allows a parent's life partner to become the child's partner-guardian. Partner-guardianship as an institution is equal to step-child adoption in rights and responsibilities, but it does not give parental status to the parent's life partner. Criteria for partner-guardianship and step-parent adoption for opposite-sex couples are the same. Also, regardless of partner-guardianship, a parent's life partner may attain partial parental responsibility over the child either via court or consensus among the parents and life partner, even full in some cases when the court decides that it is in the child's best interest.

In September 2014, a law went into effect in Denmark effectively dropping the former practice of requiring transgender persons to undergo arduous psychiatric evaluation and castration before being allowed legal gender change. By requiring nothing more than a statement of gender identity and subsequent confirmation of the request for gender change after a waiting period of 6 months, this means that anyone wishing their legal gender marker changed can do so with no expert-evaluation and few other formal restrictions.[34] Meanwhile, Norwegian Health Minister Bent Høie has made promises that a similar law for Norway will be drafted soon.[35]

On 9 October 2014, the Parliament of Estonia passed the Cohabitation bill by a 40-38 vote.[36] It was signed by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves that same day and took effect on 1 January 2016.[37]

On 27 November 2014 the Parliament of Andorra passed a Civil Union bill, legalising also joint adoption for same-sex partners. On 24 December 2014, the bill was published in the official journal, following promulgation by co-prince François Hollande as signature of one of the two co-princes was needed. It took effect on 25 December 2014.[38]

On 12 December 2014 the Parliament of Finland passed a same-sex marriage bill by a 101-90 vote.[39] The law was signed by President Sauli Niinistö on 20 February 2015. In order that the provisions of the framework law would be fully implementable further legislation has to be passed. The law took effect on 1 March 2017.[40]

On 21 January 2015, the Parliament of Macedonia overwhelmingly approved Amendment XXXIII to the Constitution of Macedonia, banning same-sex marriage, with 72 MPs voting for and 4 MPs voting against.[41]

On 7 February 2015, Slovaks voted in a referendum to ban same-sex marriage and same-sex parental adoption.[42] The result of the referendum was for enacting the ban proposals, with 95% and 92% votes for, respectively.[43] However, the referendum was deemed invalid under referendum law because of a low turnout (below 50% requirement).[44]

On 3 March 2015 the Parliament of Slovenia passed a same-sex marriage bill by a 51-28 vote.[45] On 20 December 2015, Slovenians reject the new same-sex marriage bill by a margin of 63% to 37%.

In November 2015, the Parliament of Cyprus approved a bill which legalised civil unions for same-sex couples in a 39-12 vote.[46] It took effect on 9 December 2015.[47][48]

LGBT activists at Cologne Pride carrying a banner with the flags of 72 countries where homosexuality is illegal

A bill to legalise civil unions for same-sex couples in Greece was approved in December 2015 by its Parliament in a 194-55 vote.[49] The law was signed by the President and took effect on 24 December 2015.[50]

On 29 April 2016, the Parliament of the Faroe Islands, a Danish dependency, voted to extend Danish same-sex marriage legislation to the territory, excluding the possibility to be legally wed in a religious ceremony. The Danish Parliament still had to approve the exclusion of religious marriages for the Faroe Islands, unlike in Denmark where churches can perform marriages between persons of the same-sex.[51][52] The law within the Faroe Islands went into effect on 1 July 2017, after the ratification formality by both the Danish Parliament and royal assent.

A bill to legalise civil unions for same-sex couples in Italy was approved on 13 May 2016 by the Parliament of Italy. The law was signed by the President on 20 May 2016.[53] It was published in the Official Gazette on 21 May and therefore entered into force on 5 June 2016.[54]

On 21 September 2016, the States of Guernsey approved the bill to legalize same-sex marriage, in a 33-5 vote.[55][56] It received Royal Assent on 14 December 2016. The law went into effect on 1 July 2017.

On 26 October 2016, the Gibraltar Parliament unanimously approved a bill to allow same-sex marriage by a vote of 15-0. It received Royal Assent 1 November 2016.[57] The law went into effect on 15 December 2016.

On 31 January 2017, the Supreme Court of Cassation (Italy) refused, on procedural grounds, to rescind a lower judgment recognizing a marriage between two French women (one of these had the right to claim Italian citizenship iure sanguinis), officiated in the French region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. This is the first time a same-sex marriage is admitted in Italy, but the judgment does not imply that this will necessarily be the case in general terms.[58]

Within July 2017, both the Parliaments of Germany and Malta approved bills to allow same-sex marriage. The Presidents of both countries signed the bills into law. The same-sex marriage laws within Malta went into effect on 1 September 2017 and the same-sex marriage laws within Germany went into effect on 1 October 2017.[59][60]

On 5 December 2017, the Constitutional Court of Austria struck down the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage will become legal on 1 January 2019.[61][62]

Public opinion around Europe[edit]

Eurobarometer 2015: % of people in each country who "totally agree" or "tend to agree" with the statement that "LGB people should have the same rights as heterosexual people."[63]
Country Percentage
 Netherlands 96%
 Sweden 95%
 Denmark 90%
 Spain 90%
 Ireland 87%
 United Kingdom 84%
 France 81%
 Belgium 81%
 Malta 77%
 Luxembourg 75%
 Finland 74%
 Italy 72%
 Portugal 71%
 Germany 70%
 Austria 70%
 Cyprus 62%
 Czech Republic 62%
 Slovenia 54%
 Bulgaria 51%
 Hungary 49%
 Croatia 48%
 Estonia 48%
 Greece 44%
 Lithuania 44%
 Latvia 42%
 Poland 37%
 Romania 36%
 Slovakia 36%

In a 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project surveyed by the Pew Research Center, showed majorities in every Western European nation said homosexuality should be accepted by society, while most Russians, Poles and Ukrainians disagreed.[64] According to pollster Gallup Europe in 2003, women, younger generations, and the highly educated are more likely to support same-sex marriage and adoption rights for gay people than other demographics.[65]

A Eurobarometer in 2006 surveying up to 30,000 people from each European Union country, showed split opinion around the then 27 member states on the issue of same-sex marriage. The majority of support came from the Netherlands (82%), Sweden (71%), Denmark (69%), Belgium (62%), Luxembourg (58%), Spain (56%), Finland (54%), Germany (52%) and the Czech Republic (52%). All other countries within the EU had below 50% support; with Romania (11%), Latvia (12%), Cyprus (14%), Bulgaria (15%), Greece (15%), Lithuania (17%), Poland (17%), Hungary (18%) and Malta (18%) at the other end of the list.[66] Same-sex adoption had majority support from only two countries: Netherlands at 69% and Sweden at 51% and the least support from Poland and Malta on 7% respectively.[66]

A more recent survey carried out in October 2008 by The Observer affirmed that a small majority of Britons – 55% – support same-sex marriage.[67] A 2013 poll shows that the majority of the Irish public support same-sex marriage and adoption, 73% and 60% respectively.[68] France has support for same-sex marriage at 62%,[69] and Russian at 14%.[70] Italy has support for the 'Civil Partnership Law' between people of the same gender at 45% with 47% opposed.[71] In 2009 58.9% of Italians supported civil unions, while a 40.4% minority supported same-sex marriage.[72] In 2010, 63.9% of Greeks supported same-sex partnerships, while a 38.5% minority supported same-sex marriage.[73] In 2012 a poll by MaltaToday[74] showed that 41% of Maltese supported same-sex marriage, with support increasing to 60% amongst the 18-35 age group. In a 2013 opinion poll conducted by CBOS, 65% of Poles were against same-sex civil unions, 72% of Poles were against same-sex marriage, 88% were against adoption by same-sex couples, and 68% were against lesbian, gay, or bisexual people publicly showing their way of life.[75] In Croatia, a poll from 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.[76] A CBOS opinion poll from February 2014 found that 70% of Poles believe same-sex sexual activity is morally unacceptable, while only 22% believed it is morally acceptable.[77] A 2015 NDI public opinion poll shows that only 10% of the population in the Balkans (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia) believe LGBTI marriages are acceptable, in contrast to 88% who think they're unacceptable.[78]

Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples in Europe:
  Joint adoption legal
  Stepparent adoption legal
  No laws allowing adoption by same-sex couples
Opinion polls for same-sex adoption
Country Pollster Year For Against Don't Know/Neutral/No answer/Other
 Austria IMAS 2015 46%[79] 48%[79] 6%
 Belgium Ipsos 2013 67%[80] 33%[80] 0%[80]
 Bulgaria Eurobarometer 2006 12%[81] 68%[81] 20%[81]
 Cyprus Eurobarometer 2006 10%[81] 86%[81] 4%[81]
 Czech Republic CVVM 2017 51%[82] 40%[82] 9%[82]
 Denmark Pew Research Center 2017 75%[83] - -
 Estonia ASi 2012 26%[84] 66%[84] 8%[84]
 Finland Taloustutkimus 2013 51%[85] 42%[85] 7%[85]
 France Pew Research Center 2017 64%[86] - -
 Germany Pew Research Center 2017 67%[87] - -
 Greece DiaNeosis 2017 26%[88] 72%[88] 2%[88]
 Hungary Eurobarometer 2006 13%[81] 81%[81] 6%[81]
 Ireland Red C Poll 2011 60%[89] - -
 Italy Pew Research Center 2017 42%[90] - -
 Latvia Eurobarometer 2006 8%[81] 89%[81] 3%[81]
 Lithuania Eurobarometer 2006 12%[81] 82%[81] 6%[81]
 Luxembourg Politmonitor 2013 55%[91] 44%[91] 1%[91]
 Malta Misco 2014 20%[92] 80%[93] -
 Netherlands Pew Research Center 2017 86%[94] - -
 Norway YouGov 2012 54%[95] 34%[95] 12%[95]
 Poland Ipsos 2017 16%[96] 80%[97] 4%[98]
 Portugal Expresso 2014 40.4%[99] 39.1%[99] 20.5%
 Romania Eurobarometer 2006 8%[81] 82%[81] 10%[81]
 Russia VTsIOM 2015 3%[100] 88% 9%
 Serbia GSA 2010 8%[101] 79% 13%
 Slovakia Eurobarometer 2006 12%[81] 84%[81] 4%[81]
 Slovenia Delo Stik 2015 38%[102] 55%[102] 7%[102]
 Spain Pew Research Center 2017 81%[103] - -
 Sweden Pew Research Center 2017 80%[104] - -
  Switzerland Pink Cross 2016 50%[105] 39%[105] 11%[105]
 Ukraine Gay Alliance of Ukraine 2013 7%[106] 68%[106] 12%
13% would allow some exceptions[106]
 United Kingdom Pew Research Center 2017 73%[107] - -

Legislation by country or territory

Tables:

European Union[edit]

Main article: LGBT rights in the European Union
LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
European Union European Union Yes Legal in all 28 member states[108] Yes/No Legal in 26/28 member states
Yes/No Legal in 14/28 member states
Yes/No Stepchild adoption legal in 18/28 member states;
joint adoption legal in 13/28 member states
Yes/No Legal in 27/28 member states
Yes Membership requires a state to ban anti-gay discrimination in employment.
3/28 states ban some anti-gay discrimination.
25/28 states ban all anti-gay discrimination
Yes/No Legal in 27/28 member states[109]

Central Europe[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Austria Austria Yes Legal since 1971[110]
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Registered partnerships since 2010[111] No/Yes To be legal by 1 January 2019[112] Yes Stepchild adoption since 2013;
joint adoption since 2016[113][114][115]
Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Transgender people allowed to change gender without undergoing surgery[117]
Croatia Croatia Yes Legal since 1977 (As part of Yugoslavia)
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Life partnerships since 2014[118] No Constitutional ban since 2013[119] No/Yes Partner-guardianship since 2014 (parental responsibility and a permanent next-of-kins relationship between a life partner and their partner's child which is registered in the child's birth certificate) Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116][120] Yes Act on the elimination of discrimination bans all discrimination based on both gender identity and gender expression. Gender change is regulated by special policy issued by Ministry of Health.[121]
Czech Republic Czech Republic Yes Legal since 1962 (As part of Czechoslovakia)
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships since 2006[122] No Pending[123] No LGBT individuals in a registered partnership may adopt;[124] stepchild adoption pending[125] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Legal recognition after sex reassignment surgery (with mandatory sterilisation)[126]
Germany Germany Yes Legal in East Germany since 1968
Legal in West Germany since 1969
+ UN decl. sign.[110][127]
Yes Registered life partnerships from 2001 to 2017 (existing partnerships and new foreign partnerships still recognised)[128][129] Yes Legal since 2017[130] Yes Stepchild adoption since 2005; joint adoption legal since 2017[130] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[131][132] Yes Gender change is legal; surgery not required[133]
Hungary Hungary Yes Legal since 1962
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships since 2009[134] No Constitutional ban since 2012[135][136][137][138] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[136] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Transgender people allowed to change gender without undergoing surgery[126]
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Yes Legal since 1989
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships since 2011[139] No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[140] Has no military Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] No Gender change is not legal[126]
Poland Poland Yes Legal
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes/No Unregistered cohabitation since 2012;
registered partnership proposed 2018
No Constitutional ban since 1997[141] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[142] Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Transgender people allowed to change gender but require undergoing surgery
Slovakia Slovakia Yes Legal since 1962 (As part of Czechoslovakia)
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No/Yes Limited residency rights for married same-sex couples since 2018;
registered partnerships pending[143]
No Constitutional ban since 2014[144] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[145] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[146][147] Yes Requires sterilisation for change[126]
Slovenia Slovenia Yes Legal since 1977 (As part of Yugoslavia)
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships since 2006[148];
Unregistered cohabitation since 2017[149]
No No/Yes Stepchild adoption since 2011[150] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Gender change is legal[151]
Switzerland Switzerland Yes Legal nationwide since 1942
Legal in the cantons of Geneva (as part of France), Ticino, Valais, and Vaud since 1798
+ UN decl. sign.[110][152]
Yes Registered partnerships in Geneva (2001),[153] Zürich (2003),[154] Neuchâtel (2004)[155] and Fribourg (2005)[155]
Nationwide since 2007[156]
No (Pending)[157] No/Yes Stepchild adoption since 2018[158] Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Banning all anti-gay discrimination pending[159]
Yes Legal documents can be issued based on a person's new gender identity. Sterilisation is technically required but has not been enforced since 2012. A registered partnership can become a marriage between the new opposite-sex couple.[160]

Eastern Europe[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Abkhazia Abkhazia
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal after 1991 No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Armenia Armenia Yes Legal since 2003
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No/Yes Constitutional ban since 2015;[161][162] all marriages performed abroad recognized since 2017[163] No No[164] No No
Republic of Artsakh Artsakh
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2000 No No Constitutional ban since 2006[165] No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Yes Legal since 2000[110] No No No No No No
Belarus Belarus Yes Legal since 1994[110] No No Constitutional ban since 1994[166] No No/Yes Banned from military service during peacetime, but during wartime homosexuals are permitted to enlist as partially able[167] No Yes
Georgia (country) Georgia Yes Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No Constitutional ban yet to take effect No Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[168] Yes Requires sterilisation and surgery for change[126]
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Yes Legal since 1998[110] No No No No No Yes[169]
Moldova Moldova Yes Legal since 1995
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No Constitutional ban since 1994[170] No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes No longer requires sterilisation or surgery for change since 2017[126]
Romania Romania Yes Legal since 1996
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No/Yes Limited residency rights for married same-sex couples since 2018;[171]
civil partnerships proposed[172]
No Constitutional ban proposed No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[173] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Legal recognition after sex reassignment surgery (sterilisation mandatory)[126]
Russia Russia Yes Male legal since 1993
Female always legal[174][110]
No No Constitutional ban proposed[175] No No No Yes No longer requires sterilisation or surgery for change since 2018[126]
South Ossetia South Ossetia
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal after 1991 No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Transnistria Transnistria
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2002[176] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Proposed[177] Emblem-question.svg
Ukraine Ukraine Yes Legal since 1991
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No Constitutional ban since 1996[178] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[179] Yes[180] Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[181] Yes No longer requires sterilisation or surgery for change since 2016

Northern Europe[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Denmark Denmark Yes Legal since 1933
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships from 1989 to 2012 (existing partnerships are still recognised)[182] Yes Legal since 2012[183][184] Yes Stepchild adoption since 1999;
joint adoption since 2010[185][186]
Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Legal gender change and recognition possible without surgery or hormone therapy[187]
Estonia Estonia Yes Legal since 1992
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Cohabitation agreement since 2016[188] Yes/No Marriage performed abroad recognized since 2016[189] Yes/No Stepchild adoption since 2016; couples where both partners are infertile may also jointly adopt non-biological children since 2016 Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Gender reassignment legal; surgery not required[126]
Faroe Islands Faroe Islands
(Constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark)
Yes Legal since 1933
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Yes Legal since 2017[190][191] Yes Legal since 2017 Yes Denmark responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[192][193] No[194]
Finland Finland
Åland Islands(includes Åland Islands)
Yes Legal since 1971
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships from 2002 to 2017 (existing partnerships are still recognised)[195] Yes Legal since 2017[196] Yes Stepchild adoption since 2009;
joint adoption since 2017
Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Legal change and recognition is possible only with sterilisation[197]
Iceland Iceland Yes Legal since 1940
(As part of Denmark)
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered cohabitation since 2006;[198]
Registered partnerships from 1996 to 2010 (existing partnerships are still recognised)[199]
Yes Legal since 2010[200][201] Yes Legal since 2006[202][203] Has no military Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Documents can be amended to the recognised gender, sterilisation not required[204][126]
Latvia Latvia Yes Legal since 1992
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No Constitutional ban since 2006[205] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[206] Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Documents are amended accordingly, no medical intervention required[207]
Lithuania Lithuania Yes Legal since 1993
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No Cohabitation agreement pending[208] No Constitutional ban since 1992[209] No Only married couples can adopt[210] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Gender change legal; surgery required[211]
Norway Norway Yes Legal since 1972
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships from 1993 to 2009 (existing partnerships are still recognised)[212] Yes Legal since 2009[213][214] Yes Stepchild adoption since 2002;
joint adoption since 2009[215][216]
Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes All documents can be amended to the recognised gender[117]
Sweden Sweden Yes Legal since 1944
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships from 1995 to 2009 (existing partnerships are still recognised)[217] Yes Legal since 2009[218] Yes Legal since 2003[219][220] Yes[221] Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes[222]

Southern Europe[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Akrotiri and Dhekelia Akrotiri and Dhekelia
(Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom)
Yes Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[110][223][224]
Yes Since 2005, for members of the British Armed Forces[225] Yes Since 2014, for members of the British Armed Forces[226] Emblem-question.svg Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[227] Emblem-question.svg
Albania Albania Yes Legal since 1995
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No No Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] No No legal recognition[126]
Andorra Andorra Yes Legal since 1990
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Stable unions since 2005[228]; Civil unions since 2014[229] No Yes Legal since 2014[230][229][231] Has no military Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] No No legal recognition[126]
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Yes Legal since 1996 in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Republika Srpska since 1998, and in Brčko District since 2003
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No No Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Requires surgery for change[232]
Bulgaria Bulgaria Yes Legal since 1968
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No/Yes Limited residency rights for married same-sex couples since 2018 No Constitutional ban since 1991[233] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[234] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Requires sterilisation and surgery for change[235][236]
Cyprus Cyprus Yes Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil cohabitation since 2015[237] No No No (The only EU country to ban LGBT people in the military, not enforced)[238] Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] No Gender change is not legal
Gibraltar Gibraltar
(Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom)
Yes Legal since 1993
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2014[239] Yes Legal since 2016[240] Yes Legal since 2014 Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination; banning all anti-gay discrimination pending[241] X mark.svg Pending[242]
Greece Greece Yes Legal since 1951 + UN decl. sign.[110] Yes Civil unions since 2015[243] No No Same-sex couples in a civil partnership may become foster parents;[244] LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Under the Legal Gender Recognition Act 2017[245][246]
Italy Italy Yes Legal since 1890
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil unions since 2016[247][248] No/Yes One same-sex marriage was recognized in 2017[249] Yes/No Stepchild adoption admitted by the Court of Cassation[250][251] Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Legal recognition and documents can be amended to the recognised gender, sterilisation not required[252][253]
Kosovo Kosovo
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 1994
(as part of Yugoslavia)[110]
No No[254] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[255][256] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[257] No No legal recognition[126]
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia Yes Legal since 1996
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No No Yes No No
Malta Malta Yes Legal since 1973
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil unions since 2014[258] Yes Legal since 2017 Yes Legal since 2014 Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116]
Pathologization or attempted treatment of sexual orientation by mental health professionals illegal since 2016
Yes Transgender people allowed to change gender; surgery not required since 2015[259]
Montenegro Montenegro Yes Legal since 1977 (As part of Yugoslavia)
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No Proposed No Constitutional ban since 2007[260][261] No Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Requires sterilisation and surgery for change[117][126]
Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2014[262][263][110] No No No No Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[262][263] Emblem-question.svg
Portugal Portugal Yes Legal since 1983
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes De facto unions since 2001[264][265] Yes Legal since 2010[266] Yes Legal since 2016[267][268][269] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes All documents can be amended to the recognised gender since 2011[270]
San Marino San Marino Yes Legal since 1865
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes/No Unregistered cohabitation since 2012 (only for immigration); civil unions proposed[271][272] No No Stepchild adoption proposed[272] Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination No No legal recognition[117]
Serbia Serbia Yes Legal from 1858, when nominally a vassal of the Ottoman Empire to 1860,[273] and again since 1994 (As part of Yugoslavia)
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No No Constitutional ban since 2006[274] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Gender change is allowed, after sterilisation and surgery
Spain Spain Yes Legal since 1979
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes De facto unions in Catalonia (1998),[275] Aragon (1999),[275] Navarre (2000),[275] Castile-La Mancha (2000),[275] Valencia (2001),[276] the Balearic Islands (2001),[277] Madrid (2001),[275] Asturias (2002),[278] Castile and León (2002),[279] Andalusia (2002),[275] the Canary Islands (2003),[275] Extremadura (2003),[275] Basque Country (2003),[275] Cantabria (2005),[280] Galicia (2008)[281] La Rioja (2010),[282] and Murcia (2018) Yes Legal since 2005[283] Yes Legal since 2005[284][285] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116]
Pathologization or attempted treatment of sexual orientation by mental health professionals illegal in Andalusia, Madrid, Murcia and Valencia
Yes Since 2007, all documents can be amended to the recognised gender[286]
Turkey Turkey Yes Legal since 1858[110] No No No No Proposed[287] No Proposed[287] Yes Legal since 1988, requires sterilisation and surgery for change[288]
Vatican City Vatican City Yes Legal since 1890 (As part of Italy)[110] No No No Has no military No X mark.svg

Western Europe[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Belgium Belgium Yes Legal nationwide since 1795
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Legal cohabitation since 2000[289] Yes Legal since 2003[290][291][292] Yes Legal since 2006[293][294] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Since 2018, sex changes do not require sterilisation and surgery[295]
France France Yes Legal nationwide since 1791
Legal in Savoy since 1792
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil solidarity pact since 1999[296] Yes Legal since 2013[297] Yes Legal since 2013[298] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[116] Yes Since 2017, sex changes no longer requires sterilisation and surgery[299]
Guernsey Guernsey
(Crown dependency of the United Kingdom)
Yes Legal since 1983
+ UN decl. sign.[300][301][110]
No/Yes Civil partnerships performed in the UK abroad recognised for succession purposes in inheritance and other matters respecting interests in property since 2012[302][303][304] Yes Legal since 2017 in Guernsey and since 2018 in Alderney[305]
No Not legal in Sark
Yes Legal since 2017[306] Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[307] Yes Legal gender changes since 2007[307][308]
Republic of Ireland Ireland Yes Male legal since 1993
Female always legal
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil partnerships from 2011 to 2015 (existing partnerships are still recognised)[309] Yes Legal since 2015 after a constitutional referendum[310] Yes Legal since 2017[311][312][313][314][315][316] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[317][318][319] Yes Under the Gender Recognition Act 2015[320]
Isle of Man Isle of Man
(Crown dependency of the United Kingdom)
Yes Legal since 1992
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2011[321] Yes Legal since 2016[322] Yes Legal since 2011 Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans allanti-gay discrimination[323] Yes Transgender people are allowed to change their legal gender and to have their new gender recognised as a result of the Gender Recognition Act 2009 (c.11)[324][325]
Jersey Jersey
(Crown dependency of the United Kingdom)
Yes Legal since 1990
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2012[326] Yes Legal since 2018[327][328] Yes Legal since 2012 Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[329] Yes Under the Gender Recognition (Jersey) Law 2010[330]
Luxembourg Luxembourg Yes Legal since 1795
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnerships since 2004[331] Yes Legal since 2015[332][333] Yes Legal since 2015[334] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[335] Yes No divorce, sterilization and/or surgery legally required since September 2018 for change of gender[336][126]
Monaco Monaco Yes Legal since 1793
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
No Pending[337] No No Yes France responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[110] Emblem-question.svg
Netherlands Netherlands Yes Legal since 1811
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Registered partnership since 1998[338] Yes Legal since 2001[339] Yes Legal since 2001[340][341] Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[342] Yes[343]
United Kingdom United Kingdom Yes Male legal in England and Wales since 1967, in Scotland since 1981, and in Northern Ireland since 1982
Female always legal
+ UN decl. sign.[110]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2005[344] Yes Legal in England, Wales and Scotland since 2014[345][345]
No Not performed in Northern Ireland
Yes Legal in England and Wales since 2005, in Scotland since 2009 and Northern Ireland since 2013[346][347][348] Yes Since 2000 Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[349][110] Yes Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004


See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

A The UK Parliament excepted Scotland and Northern Ireland from its same-sex marriage legislation, although the Scottish parliament has since legalised it.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]