Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe

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Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe
  Marriage (blue border delimits EU, where SSM determined a human right)
  Foreign marriages recognized
  Other type of partnership
  Unregistered cohabitation
  Unrecognized
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples

Includes laws that have not yet gone into effect.
Legal status of same-sex unions
Marriage
Performed
Recognized
  1. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  2. When performed in the Netherlands proper

* Not yet in effect

LGBT portal

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

Currently 25 of the 50 countries and 3 of the 6 dependent territories in Europe recognize some type of same-sex unions, among them a majority of members of the European Union. Twelve European countries legally recognize same-sex marriage, namely Belgium, Denmark,[nb 1] Finland (effective from 2017), France, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,[nb 2] Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.[nb 3] Twenty European countries legally recognize some form of civil union, namely Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark,[nb 4] Estonia (effective from 2016), Finland, France,[nb 5] Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands,[nb 2] Slovenia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.[nb 6] San Marino only allows immigration and cohabitation of a citizen's partner. Several countries are currently considering same-sex union recognition.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in several European countries and in addition marriage is defined as a union solely between a man and a woman in the constitutions of Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

On 21 July 2015 the European Court of Human Rights found Italy to be in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights in the case of Oliari and others v. Italy.[1] The decision set a precedent for potential future cases regarding the 23 member states, certain British, Danish and Dutch territories, and the states with limited recognition (excluding Kosovo), that do currently not recognise same-sex couples' right to family life.

Current situation[edit]

National level[edit]

Status Country Since Country population
(Last Census count)
Marriage
(10 countries)
* In six countries that have passed marriage,
other types of partnerships are available, too.
Belgium Belgium 2003[2] 11,198,638
Denmark Denmark 2012[3] 5,655,750
Finland Finland 2017 [4] 5,470,820
France France 2013[5] 66,030,000
Iceland Iceland 2010[6] 325,671
Luxembourg Luxembourg 2015[7] 549,680
Norway Norway 2009[8] 5,136,700
Portugal Portugal 2010[9] 10,427,301
Spain Spain 2005[10] 46,704,314
Sweden Sweden 2009[11] 9,716,962
Subtotal 131,368,142
(16.8% of the European population)
Recognition of foreign marriage
(1 country)
Malta Malta 2014[12][13] 446,547
Subtotal 446,547
(.06% of the European population)
Other type of partnership
(11 countries)
* In one of the countries that have passed other types of partnerships,
yet another type of partnership is available, too.
Andorra Andorra 2014[14] 85,082
Austria Austria 2010[15] 8,504,850
Croatia Croatia 2014[16] 4,284,889
Czech Republic Czech Republic 2006[17] 10,513,209
Estonia Estonia 2016[18] 1,315,819
Germany Germany 2001[19] 80,716,000
Hungary Hungary 2009[20] 9,877,365
Republic of Ireland Ireland 2011[21] 4,609,600
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 2011[22] 37,132
Slovenia Slovenia 2006[23] 2,061,085
Switzerland Switzerland 2007[24] 8,183,800
Subtotal 130,188,831
(16.7% of the European population)
Unregistered cohabitation
(1 country)
San Marino San Marino 2012[25] 32,576
Subtotal 32,576
(.004% of the European population)
Total 262,036,096
(33.6% of the European population)
No recognition
( 14 countries)
Albania Albania 3,020,209
Armenia Armenia 3,018,854
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 9,494,600
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,871,643
Cyprus Cyprus 1,117,000
Georgia (country) Georgia 4,935,880
Greece Greece 10,816,286
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 17,948,816
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia 2,058,539
Monaco Monaco 36,371
Romania Romania 19,942,642
Russia Russia 143,700,000
Turkey Turkey 76,667,864
Vatican City Vatican City 842
Subtotal 317,445,832
(40.7% of the European population)
Constitutional ban on marriage
(12 countries)
Belarus Belarus 1994[26] 9,475,100
Bulgaria Bulgaria 1991[27] 7,364,570
Croatia Croatia 2013[28][29] 4,284,889
Hungary Hungary 2012[30][31] 9,877,365
Latvia Latvia 2006[32][33] 1,990,300
Lithuania Lithuania 1992[34] 2,944,459
Moldova Moldova 1994[35] 3,557,600
Montenegro Montenegro 2007[36] 647,905
Poland Poland 1997[37] 38,483,957
Serbia Serbia 2006[38] 7,209,764
Slovakia Slovakia 2014[39][40] 5,415,949
Ukraine Ukraine 1996[41] 44,291,413
Subtotal 135,543,271
(17.4% of the European population)
Total 452,989,103
(58.1% of the European population)

Sub-national level[edit]

Status Country Jurisdiction Legal since Jurisdiction population
(Last Census count)
Marriage
(3 jurisdictions)
* In all jurisdictions that have passed marriage,
other types of partnerships are available, too.
Kingdom of the Netherlands The Kingdom of
the Netherlands
Netherlands Netherlands 2001[42][43] 16,856,620
United Kingdom United Kingdom 2014 62,700,000

(Combined population)

Subtotal 62,756,968
(8% of the European population)
Other type of partnership
(4 jurisdictions)
United Kingdom United Kingdom Varies 2,012,355

(Combined population)

Subtotal 2,012,355
(.3% of the European population)
Total 64,769,323
(8.3% of the European population)
No recognition
(2 jurisdictions)
Denmark Denmark Faroe Islands Faroe Islands 49,709
United Kingdom United Kingdom Guernsey Guernsey 65,345
Total 115,054
(.01% of the European population)

Future legislation[edit]

Marriage[edit]

Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majority[edit]

Republic of Ireland Ireland: A bill to amend the constitution to the effect that "marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex" was approved by the parliament's lower house on 11 March 2015 and by its upper house on 27 March 2015. A referendum, as required by law, was held on 22 May 2015, approving the bill. It was signed by the president on 29 August 2015.[50] A bill [51] to amend the marriage law to give effect to the constitutional definiton of marriage is expected to be submitted to parliament on 22 September 2015.[52]

Jersey Jersey: On 14 July 2015 the Chief Minister submitted a proposal to parliament. The States are asked to decide whether they agree, in principle, that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. It will be debated on 22 September 2015.[53]

Opposition proposals or proposals without a parliamentary majority[edit]

Austria 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. On 25 June 2014 the Judiciary Committee postponed consideration of the bill.[54]
The opposition party NEOS – The New Austria submitted a further bill to the National Council on 12 June 2014. On 24 September 2014 it had its first reading and was sent to the Judiciary Committee.[55]
A people initiative was submitted to the National Council on 5 August 2015 and sent to the Petition and People Initiative Committee on 8 August 2015.[56]

Germany 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.[57]
On 5 June 2015 the states of Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia submitted a bill to the Federal Council. On 12 June 2015 it had its first reading and was sent to the committees. It is expected to have its second reading on 25 September 2015.[58]
The opposition party Alliance '90/The Greens submitted a further bill to the Federal Diet on 10 June 2015. It had its first reading on 18 June 2015.[59]

Hungary Hungary: The opposition party Hungarian Liberal Party submitted bills to the National Assembly on 29 June 2015.[60][61]

Italy 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.[62][63][64]

Slovenia Slovenia: On 15 December 2014 members of the opposition party United Left introduced a bill into parliament. It had its first reading on 16 January 2015.[65] On 10 February 2015 the Committee on Labour, Family, Social Affairs and the Disabled recommended to approve the bill.[66] On 3 March 2015 the National Assembly passed the bill 51 votes to 28.[67] On 10 March 2015, the National Council rejected a motion to require the Assembly to vote on the bill again, in a 14-23 vote.[68] Opponents of the bill launched a petition for a referendum. After collecting 80,000 signatures, the petition was filed with the parliament on 10 March 2015.[69] On 26 March 2015, the National Assembly voted to block the referendum.[70] A request to review the constitutionality of the parliament's decision to block the referendum was filed with the constitutional court on 2 April 2015.

Switzerland Switzerland: On 5 December 2013 the Green Liberal Party of Switzerland submitted a parliamentary initiative to the National Council, aiming for a constitutional amendment allowing couples to enter into a marriage or civil union irrespective of sex and sexual orientation. On 20 February 2015 the lower house's Justice Committee recommended to approve the proposal.[71] In March 2015, the Swiss Federal Council released a governmental report about a modernization of family law. It opens the possibility to repeal the current law on registered partnerships and to establish a new gender-neutral form of partnership registration, modelled on the French civil solidarity pact, as well as marriage for same-sex couples.[72] The Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga in charge of the Federal Department of Justice and Police also stated she hoped personally that gay and lesbian couples would soon be allowed to marry.[73]

Non-marital partnership[edit]

Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majority[edit]

Cyprus Cyprus: On 6 May 2015, the Cypriot Cabinet approved a gender-neutral civil cohabitation bill which provides for most of the rights of marriage. It had its first reading on 18 June 2015 and is expected to have its second reading on 10 October 2015.[74][75]

Greece Greece: On 9 February 2015, the SYRIZA-led coalition government, sworn in on 27 January 2015, has promised to extend cohabitation agreements to same-sex couples.[76][77] On 24 April 2015, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice announced the government's intention to bring a bill before Parliament within two months.[78] Shortly after the announcement, a committee was formed to study the issue and draft a bill by 15 June 2015.[79] The bill was published on 10 June 2015.

Opposition proposals or proposals without a parliamentary majority[edit]

Italy Italy: On 26 March 2015, the Senate's Judiciary Committee approved a bill, proposed by Senator Monica Cirinnà from the Democratic Party, that would establish same-sex civil unions and gender-neutral cohabitation agreements.[80]

Monaco Monaco: On 18 June 2013 the opposition party Union Monégasque submitted a bill to parliament that would establish gender-neutral cohabitation agreements.[81]

Romania Romania: On March 31, 2015, a civil partnership bill submitted by Green Party MP Remus Cernea was rejected by the Senate with 49 votes in favor of rejection, 8 against and 3 abstains.[82] The bill now heads to the Chamber of Deputies.

Mutual recognition[edit]

European Union 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.[83]

Same-sex marriage ban[edit]

Republic of Macedonia Macedonia: 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.[84] However, it also needs another parliamentary vote and presidential approval to become law.[85]

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%).[86] However, other polls have also placed Germany and France between 54% to 65%,[87] the UK at 61%.[88]

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.[89] In 2008 58% of the Norwegian voters supported the Marriage Act, which was introduced in the same year, and 31 percent were against it.[90] In January 2013 54.1% of Italians respondents supported same-sex marriage[91] In a late January 2013 survey 77.2% of Italians respondents supported the recognition of same-sex unions.[92]

In Ireland, a 2008 survey revealed 84% of people supported civil unions for same-sex couples (and 58% for same-sex marriage),[93] while a 2010 survey showed 67% supported same-sex marriage[94] by 2012 this figure had risen to 73% in support.[95] On 22 May 2015, 62.1% of the electorate voted to enshrine same-sex marriage in the Irish constitution as equal to heterosexual marriage.

A March 2013 survey by Taloustutkimus found that 58% of Finns supported same-sex marriage.[96]

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.[97]

In Poland a 2013 public poll revealed that 70% of Poles reject the idea of registered partnerships.[98] Another survey in February 2013 revealed that 55% were against and 38% of Poles support the idea of registered partnerships for same-sex couples.[99]

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.[86]

Opinion polls[edit]

Opinion polls for same-sex marriage
Country Pollster Year For Against Don't Know/Neutral/No answer/Other
 Austria Market/ORF 2014 73%[100][101] 24%[100][101] 3%[100][101]
 Belgium Ipsos 2015 69%[102] 31% -
 Bulgaria Eurobarometer 2006 15%[103] 65%[103] 20%[103]
 Croatia Pilar's barometer 2014 17%[104] 61%[104] 1% – no answer; 21% – Neutral[104]
 Cyprus SIGMALIVE 2014 36.7%[105] 56.8%[105] 6.5%[105]
 Czech Republic CVVM 2015 49%[106] 47%[106] 4%[106]
 Denmark YouGov 2012 79%[107] 16%[107] 6%[107]
 Estonia ASi 2012 34%[108] 60%[108] 6%
 Finland Taloustutkimus 2014 65%[109] 27%[109] 8%
 France Ipsos 2015 53%[102] 47% -
 Germany Ipsos 2015 68%[102] 32% -
 Greece Focus Bari 2015 56%[110] 35%[110] 9%[110]
 Hungary Ipsos 2015 31%[102] 69% -
 Ireland Ipsos 2015 66%[102] 34% -
 Italy Piepoli 2015 51%[111] 41%[111] 8%[111]
 Latvia Eurobarometer 2006 12%[103] 77%[103] 7%[103]
 Lithuania RAIT 2014 8%[112] 82%[112] 10%[112]
 Luxembourg Politmonitor 2013 82%[113] 17%[113] 1%[113]
 Malta MaltaToday 2012 46%[114] 51%[114] 3%
 Moldova IPP 2014 5.9%[115] 87.2% 6.9%
 Netherlands Ifop 2013 85%[116] 15% -
 Norway Ipsos 2013 78%[117] 17%[117] 4%[117]
 Poland Ipsos 2015 21%[102] 79% -
 Portugal Eurosondagem 2010 52%[118] 43%[118] 5%[118]
 Romania Eurobarometer 2006 11%[103] 79%[103] 10%[103]
 Russia Ipsos 2015 11%[102] 89% -
 Slovakia Eurobarometer 2006 19%[103] 81%[103] 0%[103]
 Slovenia Delo 2015 59%[119] 37%[119] 4%[119]
 Spain Ipsos 2015 77%[102] 23% -
 Sweden Ipsos 2015 74%'[102] 26% -
  Switzerland Ifop 2013 63%[116] 37% -
 Ukraine Gay Alliance of Ukraine 2013 9%[120] 62%[120] 12%
17% would allow some exceptions.[120]
 United Kingdom Ipsos 2015 67%[102] 33% -

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Excluding the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
  2. ^ a b Excluding Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.
  3. ^ Excluding Northern Ireland, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories (except Pitcairn Islands).
  4. ^ Greenland only.
  5. ^ Excluding French Polynesia.
  6. ^ Excluding Guernsey and Overseas Territories (except Gibraltar).

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