Recognition of same-sex unions in South America

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Recognition of same-sex unions in South America
  Other type of partnership
  Same-sex marriage banned
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal

Legal status of same-sex unions
  1. Marriages performed in some municipalities and recognized by the state
  2. For some purposes, from all jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal
  3. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  4. When performed in the Netherlands proper
  5. Registration schemes opened in all jurisdictions except Hualien County, Penghu County, Taitung County, and Yunlin County

* Not yet in effect

LGBT portal

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

Currently 6 of the 12 sovereign countries in South America recognize some type of same-sex unions. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay and is also legal in the territories of French Guiana and the Falkland Islands. An additional two countries have a form of civil union or registered partnership, namely Chile and Ecuador. South America was the first continent to have a majority of its inhabitants living in a jurisdiction that afforded same-sex couples the right to marry.

Sex between women is legal in the entire region, while sex between men is illegal only in Guyana,[1] not to be confused with French Guiana.

Current situation[edit]

National level[edit]

Status Country Legal since Country population
(Last Census estimate 2017)
(4 countries)
Argentina Argentina 2010[2] 43,590,400
Brazil Brazil 2013[3] 205,574,000
Colombia Colombia 2016[4] 48,509,200
Uruguay Uruguay 2013[5] 3,480,222
Subtotal 301,153,822
(72.1% of the South American population)
Other type of partnership
(2 countries)
Chile Chile 2015[6] 18,191,900
Ecuador Ecuador 2008[7] 16,278,844
Subtotal 34,471,744
(8.4% of the South American population)
Total 335,624,566
(80.4% of the South American population)
No recognition
(4 countries)
Guyana Guyana 746,900
Peru Peru 31,488,700
Suriname Suriname 534,189
Venezuela Venezuela 31,648,930
Subtotal 64,418,719
(15.2% of the South American population)
Constitutional ban on marriage
(3 countries)
Bolivia Bolivia 2009[8] 10,985,059
Ecuador Ecuador 2008[7] 16,278,844
Paraguay Paraguay 1992[9] 6,854,536
Subtotal 34,118,439
(8.1% of the South American population)
Total 82,258,314
(19.68% of the South American population)

Sub-national level[edit]

Status Country Jurisdiction Legal since Jurisdiction population
(Last Census count)
(2 jurisdiction)
France France French Guiana[11] 2013 250,109
United Kingdom United Kingdom Falkland Islands Falkland Islands[12] 2017 3,398
Total 253,507
(0.06% of the South American population)

Future legislation[edit]


Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majority[edit]

Chile Chile On 10 December 2014, a group of senators from various parties joined LGBT rights group MOVILH in presenting a bill to allow same-sex marriage and adoption to Congress.[13] On 17 February 2015, lawyers representing the Government and the LGBT rights group MOVILH met to discuss an amicable solution to the same-sex marriage lawsuit before the Inter-American Commission Of Human Rights. The Government announced that they would drop their opposition to same-sex marriage. A formal agreement will be signed in April and the case will still continue according to MOVILH's lawyer who stated that the lawsuit will live on until Chile enacts the law.[14] On 1 July 2016, the Government announced that it would begin consultations on a same-sex marriage bill in September 2016, with the aim of finalising it by mid-2017.[15] In June 2017, President Bachelet announced in a speech to Congress that her government would send a bill to the legislature in the second half of 2017 to allow same-sex marriage.[16] On 28 August 2017, Bachelet sent a same-sex marriage bill that included full adoption rights to Congress.[17]

Opposition proposals or proposals without a parliamentary majority[edit]

Peru Peru On 14 February 2017, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was introduced in the Peruvian Congress, sponsored by a group of legislators from the Broad Front and Peruvians for Change.[18] The proposal seeks to alter Article 234 of the Civil Code to define marriage as "the union voluntarily agreed upon by two persons legally able to do so".[19]

Venezuela Venezuela On 31 January 2014, during a debate on a Civil Code reform bill, LGBT activists submitted a proposal seeking to legalize same-sex marriage. The proposal was accompanied with 21,000 signatures as well as support from the governments of the states of Barinas, Falcón, Mérida, Monagas, Táchira, Yaracuy and Zulia.[20] The proposal seeks to alter Article 44 of the Civil Code to allow for same-sex marriages in Venezuela.

Non-marital partnership[edit]

Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majority[edit]

Peru Peru On 30 November 2016, a pair of Representatives introduced a civil union bill in the Peruvian Congress. The bill has the support of the recently elected President, who promised to introduce civil unions during the election campaign.[21]

Opposition proposals or proposals without a parliamentary majority[edit]

Bolivia Bolivia On 21 September 2015, the country's largest LGBT rights group handed the Bolivian Assembly a bill to legalize same-sex unions under the term "Family Life Agreement". The Family Life Agreement proposal seeks to grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples with the exception of adoptions.[22]

Public opinion[edit]

Public support for same-sex marriage varies from country to country. Polls have found support to be higher between younger people, women, city inhabitants and people with a higher education level.[23]

Country Pollster Year For Against
Uruguay Uruguay Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 70.6%[24] -
Chile Chile Plaza Pùblica 2017 64%[25] 32%[25]
Argentina Argentina IPSOS 2015 59%[26] 26%[26]
Colombia Colombia Gallup 2017 43%[27] 54%[28]
Brazil Brazil DataFolha 2016 44%[29] 42%[30]
Venezuela Venezuela Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 29.6%[24] 61%[31]
Ecuador Ecuador Pew Research Center 2014 16%[32] 74%[33]
Bolivia Bolivia Pew Research Center 2014 22%[34] 67%[35]
Suriname Suriname Vanderbilt University 2012 22.5%[36] -
Paraguay Paraguay Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 20.8%[24] -
Guyana Guyana Vanderbilt University 2012 14%[36] -
Peru Peru CPI 2017 13.4%[37] 82.2%[37]

Other polls[edit]

  • Argentina: A November 2009 poll conducted in the six biggest cities of Argentina found support for same-sex marriage at 63.3%, opposition was at 23.1%[38]
  • Brazil: A July 2012 nationwide poll revealed that 50% of Brazilians were in favor of the Supreme Court decision that expanded civil unions to same-sex couples. Women, younger people and Catholics were more in favor of gay marriage then the rest of the country.[39] Another poll released in March 2013 showed that 47% of the population was in favor of same-sex marriage, while 57% of Brazilians were in favor of same-sex couples adopting children.[40]
  • Chile: A January 2017 nationwide poll found that 45% of Chileans support same-sex adoption.[25]
  • Colombia: A poll conducted between December 2009 and January 2010 in Colombia's capital, Bogota, showed that 63% of the city's population was in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage while 36% was against it.[41]
  • Peru: In August 2010, a poll revealed 21.3% of Peruvians approved same-sex marriage, 71.5% were against it. Support in younger people was higher at 31.9%[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ottosson, Daniel (May 2012). "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults" (PDF). International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  2. ^ (in Spanish) Ley 26.618
  3. ^ (in Portuguese) DIÁRIO DA JUSTIÇA CONSELHO NACIONAL DE JUSTIÇA Edição nº 89/2013
  4. ^ "Histórico: Colombia tiene matrimonio homosexual". El Tiempo. 7 April 2016. 
  5. ^ (in Spanish) Ley Nº 19.075 MATRIMONIO IGUALITARIO
  6. ^ (in Spanish) Ley número 20.830. - Crea el Acuerdo de Unión Civil
  7. ^ a b (in Spanish) Constituciones de 2008
  8. ^ "Constitución Política del Estado (CPE) (7-Febrero-2009)" (in Spanish). Infoleyes. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Paraguay – Constitution". Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  10. ^ Excluding Ecuador, which has civil unions
  11. ^ Erlanger, Steven (18 May 2013). "Hollande Signs French Gay Marriage Law". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "El proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario llega al Parlamento de Chile". Cáscara Amarga. 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  14. ^ Chilean government to end opposition to same-sex marriage (Washington Blade - February 18 2015)
  15. ^ Matrimonio Igualitario: Ejecutivo define cronograma para envío de proyecto
  16. ^ "Chile president pledge new infrastructure, gay marriage in final year". The Himalayan Times & Reuters. 2 June 2017. 
  17. ^ News, ABC. "Chile's Bachelet presents gay marriage bill". ABC News. Retrieved 2017-08-29. 
  18. ^ Peruvian Lawmakers Introduce Gay Marriage Bill On Valentine's Day
  19. ^ (in Spanish) Se presentó proyecto de ley de Matrimonio Igualitario en el Peru
  20. ^ Becker, Sabina (29 January 2014). "Equal marriage: coming soon to Venezuela?". News of the Restless. 
  21. ^ "Presentan nuevo proyecto de ley de unión civil gay en Perú". Retrieved 2016-12-02. 
  22. ^ (in Spanish) Entregan propuesta sobre parejas del mismo sexo
  23. ^ Vanderbildt University. Support for Same‐Sex Marriage in Latin America. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  24. ^ a b c
  25. ^ a b c "Track semanal de Opinión Pública 23 de Enero 2017 Estudio Nº 158" (PDF). Plaza Pública Cadem. January 23, 2017. 
  26. ^ a b "Of 23 Countries Surveyed, Majority (65%) in 20 Countries Support Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Unions". Ipsos. March 29, 2015. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b "El matrimonio igualitario y la opinión pública" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 February 2017. 
  37. ^ Most Argentineans Support Same-Sex Marriage
  38. ^ (in Portuguese) Evolução: 50% da população brasileira aprova o casamento gay, diz pesquisa
  39. ^ Quase 60% dos brasileiros são a favor de adoção de crianças por gays
  40. ^ (in Spanish) Los habitantes de Bogotá aprueban el matrimonio homosexual, según encuesta
  41. ^ (in Spanish) ESTUDIO DE OPINIÓN PÚBLICA A NIVEL PERÚ URBANO - Informe de resultados - (5 al 9 de agosto de 2010)