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 only
  3. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  4. When performed in the Netherlands proper

* 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. 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 2015)
(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 34,470,744
(8.3% 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
(1 jurisdiction)
France France 2013
No recognition
(1 jurisdiction)
United Kingdom United Kingdom

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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

Falkland Islands Falkland Islands On 13 January 2016, following the public consultation, the Executive Council instructed the Attorney General to prepare the amendment to the Marriage Ordinance in order to allow same-sex marriage.[15] The Executive Council presented draft legislation for equal marriage on 22 February 2017.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

Country Pollster Year For Against
Uruguay Uruguay Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 70.6%[19] -
Chile Chile Plaza Pùblica 2017 64%[20] 32%[20]
Argentina Argentina Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 57.5%[19] -
Brazil Brazil Vanderbilt University 2012 49.2%[21] -
Colombia Colombia Vanderbilt University 2012 40.0%[21] -
Venezuela Venezuela Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 29.6%[19] 61%[22]
Ecuador Ecuador Vanderbilt University 2012 25.1%[21] -
Bolivia Bolivia Vanderbilt University 2012 24.7%[21] -
Suriname Suriname Vanderbilt University 2012 22.5%[21] -
Paraguay Paraguay Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 20.8%[19] -
Guyana Guyana Vanderbilt University 2012 14%[21] -
Peru Peru CPI 2017 13.4%[23] 82.2%[23]

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%[24]
  • 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.[25] 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.[26]
  • Chile: A January 2017 nationwide poll found that 45% of Chileans support same-sex adoption.[20]
  • 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.[27]
  • 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%[28]

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. ^ (Spanish) Ley 26.618
  3. ^ (Portuguese) DIÁRIO DA JUSTIÇA CONSELHO NACIONAL DE JUSTIÇA Edição nº 89/2013
  4. ^ "Histórico: Colombia tiene matrimonio homosexual". El Tiempo. 7 April 2016. 
  5. ^ (Spanish) Ley Nº 19.075 MATRIMONIO IGUALITARIO
  6. ^ (Spanish) Ley número 20.830. - Crea el Acuerdo de Unión Civil
  7. ^ a b (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. ^ "El proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario llega al Parlamento de Chile". Cáscara Amarga. 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  13. ^ Chilean government to end opposition to same-sex marriage (Washington Blade - February 18 2015)
  14. ^ Matrimonio Igualitario: Ejecutivo define cronograma para envío de proyecto
  15. ^ "Executive Council Family Law Review Proposals Jan 13, 2016". Retrieved Nov 23, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Executive Council - Family Law Review - Marriage Reform". 
  17. ^ "Presentan nuevo proyecto de ley de unión civil gay en Perú". Retrieved 2016-12-02. 
  18. ^ Vanderbildt University. Support for Same‐Sex Marriage in Latin America. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  19. ^ a b c d
  20. ^ a b c "Track semanal de Opinión Pública 23 de Enero 2017 Estudio Nº 158" (PDF). Plaza Pública Cadem. January 23, 2017. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b "El matrimonio igualitario y la opinión pública" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 February 2017. 
  23. ^ Most Argentineans Support Same-Sex Marriage
  24. ^ (Portuguese) Evolução: 50% da população brasileira aprova o casamento gay, diz pesquisa
  25. ^ Quase 60% dos brasileiros são a favor de adoção de crianças por gays
  26. ^ (Spanish) Los habitantes de Bogotá aprueban el matrimonio homosexual, según encuesta
  27. ^ (Spanish) ESTUDIO DE OPINIÓN PÚBLICA A NIVEL PERÚ URBANO - Informe de resultados - (5 al 9 de agosto de 2010)