Recognition of same-sex unions in the Americas

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Legal status of same-sex unions
  1. Not performed in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
  2. Neither performed nor recognized in Niue, Tokelau or the Cook Islands
  3. Neither performed nor recognized in Northern Ireland, the dependency of Sark or six of the fourteen overseas territories
  4. Neither performed nor recognized in American Samoa or many tribal jurisdictions with the exception of federal recognition benefits
  5. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  6. When performed in the Netherlands proper
  7. If performed before 1 June 2018
  8. Registration schemes open in all jurisdictions except Hualien County, Penghu County, Taitung County and Yunlin County

* Not yet in effect
+ Automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

LGBT portal
State recognition of same-sex relationships in North America & Hawaii.1
  Same-sex marriage
  Other type of partnership
  Same-sex marriages recognized, but not performed
  Binding decision overturning a ban on same-sex marriage not in effect2
1May include recent laws or court decisions which have created legal recognition of same-sex relationships, but which have not entered into effect yet.
2Some states in these categories also have a ban unions similar to marriage and binding judicial rulings against bans unions similar to marriage.
Homosexuality laws in Central America and the Caribbean Islands.
  Same-sex marriage
  Other type of partnership
  Unregistered cohabitation
  Foreign same-sex marriages recognized
  No recognition of same-sex couples
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal but not enforced
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal only for males
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal for males and females
Recognition of same-sex unions in South America
  Other type of partnership
  Same-sex marriage banned
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal
Homosexuality legislation in Lesser Antilles.
  Same-sex marriage
  Same-sex marriage only recognized
  Other type of partnership
  Unrecognized or unknown
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal but not enforced
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal

Recognition of same-sex unions is widespread in the Americas, with a majority of people in both North America and South America living in jurisdictions providing marriage rights to LGBT citizens. In North America, same-sex marriage is recognized by Canada, the United States,[nb 1] twelve Mexican states and Mexico City. Elsewhere in Mexico, same-sex marriages are recognized by all states, and same-sex couples may get married in any jurisdiction by obtaining a court injunction ("amparo"). Same-sex marriages are also performed in the Caribbean Netherlands, Bermuda, Greenland, and in French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin and Saint Pierre and Miquelon). Furthermore, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten recognize same-sex marriages performed in the Netherlands. In South America, same-sex marriage is currently legal in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay and is also legal in the jurisdictions of French Guiana and the Falkland Islands, and civil unions are performed in Chile and Ecuador.

On 8 January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that the American Convention on Human Rights mandates and requires the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The landmark ruling was fully binding on Costa Rica and set binding precedent in the other signatory countries. The Court recommended that governments issue temporary decrees legalising same-sex marriage until new legislation is brought in. The ruling applies to the countries of Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. The Costa Rican government subsequently announced that it would implement the ruling "in its totality",[1] and the government of Panama has also signalled that it would accept the ruling.[2][3]

Current situation[edit]

National level[edit]

Status Country Legal since Country population
(Last count, 2015 est.)
(6 countries)
Argentina Argentina 2010[4] 43,590,400
Brazil Brazil 2013[5] 205,574,000
Canada Canada 2005[6] 35,819,000
Colombia Colombia 2016[7] 48,509,200
United States United States 2015[8][9] 321,234,000
Uruguay Uruguay 2013[10] 3,480,222
Subtotal 658,206,822
(67.32% of the American population)
Marriage recognized nationwide;

legal in some jurisdictions; allowed by injunction in others
(1 country)
† Country subject to IACHR ruling on same-sex marriage

Mexico Mexico 2010[11] 121,006,000
Subtotal 121,006,000
(12.35% of the American population)
Other type of partnership
(2 countries)
† Country subject to IACHR ruling on same-sex marriage
Chile Chile 2015[12] 18,191,900
Ecuador Ecuador 2008[13] 16,278,844
Subtotal 34,471,744
(3.49% of the American population)
Unregistered cohabitation
(1 country)
† Country subject to IACHR ruling on same-sex marriage
Costa Rica Costa Rica 2013[14][15] 4,851,000
Subtotal 4,851,000
(0.49% of the American population)
Total 818,535,566
(83.65% of the American population)
No recognition
(19 countries)
† Country subject to IACHR ruling on same-sex marriage
‡ Country accepts IACHR precedent but does not accept blanket jurisdiction
Homosexuality is legal
The Bahamas Bahamas 379,000
Belize Belize 369,000
El Salvador El Salvador 6,460,000
Guatemala Guatemala 16,176,000
Haiti Haiti 10,994,000
Nicaragua Nicaragua 6,514,000
Panama Panama 3,764,000
Peru Peru 31,488,700
Suriname Suriname 534,189
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 1,357,000
Venezuela Venezuela 31,648,930
Homosexuality is illegal but legislation is not enforced
Barbados Barbados 283,000
Homosexuality is illegal
Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda 89,000
Dominica Dominica 71,000
Grenada Grenada 104,000
Guyana Guyana 746,900
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis 46,000
Saint Lucia Saint Lucia 172,000
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 110,000
Subtotal 111,306,719
(11.21% of the American population)
Constitutional ban on marriage
(7 countries)
* Another type of union is possible
** Homosexuality is illegal
† Country subject to IACHR ruling on same-sex marriage
‡ Country accepts IACHR precedent but does not accept blanket jurisdiction
Bolivia Bolivia 2009[16] 10,985,059
Cuba Cuba 1976[17] 11,252,000
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 2010[18] 9,980,000
Ecuador Ecuador* † 2008[13] 16,278,844
Honduras Honduras 2005[19][20] 8,950,000
Jamaica Jamaica** ‡ 1962[21] 2,729,000
Paraguay Paraguay 1992[22] 6,854,536
Subtotal 67,029,439
(6.81% of the American population)
Total 178,336,158
(18.02% of the American population)

Sub-national level[edit]

Status Country Jurisdiction Legal since
(67 jurisdictions)
Kingdom of Denmark Denmark 2016
France France 2013
Mexico Mexico Varies
Netherlands Netherlands 2012
United Kingdom United Kingdom 2017
United States United States 2015
Other type of partnership
(2 jurisdictions)
Netherlands Netherlands 2016
Mexico Mexico 2017
Marriage recognized,
but not performed
(3 jurisdictions)
Netherlands Netherlands 2007
Some recognition for limited purposes
(1 jurisdiction)
United Kingdom United Kingdom 2016
No recognition
(2 jurisdictions)
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
(3 jurisdictions)
United Kingdom United Kingdom Varies

2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling[edit]

On 9 January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued an advisory opinion that states party to the American Convention on Human Rights must grant same-sex couples accession to all existing domestic legal systems of family registration, including marriage, along with all rights that derive from marriage. The opinion was issued after the Government of Costa Rica sought clarification of its obligations to LGBT people under the convention.[84] The opinion sets precedent for all 23 member states, 19 of which did not recognize same-sex marriage at the time of the ruling: Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. Of these, all but Dominica, Grenada and Jamaica have accepted the court's blanket jurisdiction.[citation needed][clarification needed] However, states must each individually apply the ruling before it takes effect.

Future legislation[edit]


Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majority[edit]

Chile Chile: 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.[85] On 28 August 2017, President Bachelet sent a same-sex marriage bill to Congress, including full adoption rights.[86] On 17 December 2017, Sebastián Piñera was re-elected president,[87] and stated that he will respect the April 2015 agreement with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, saying that "Chile's international commitments will be fulfilled".[88] Following the January 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling, which requires countries signatory to the American Convention on Human Rights to legalise same-sex marriage, LGBT advocacy group MOVILH urged Piñera to implement and abide by the decision.[89] In early March 2018, a spokesperson for the Piñera Administration announced that passing the same-sex marriage bill will not be a priority, but that the Piñera Government will not veto or oppose it.[90]

Costa Rica Costa Rica: On March 19, 2015, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage was introduced to the Legislative Assembly by Deputy Ligia Elena Fallas Rodríguez from the Broad Front.[91] On December 10, 2015, the organization Front for Equal Rights (Frente Por los Derechos Igualitarios) and a group of deputies from the Citizens' Action Party, the National Liberation Party and the Broad Front presented another bill.[92][93][94] On 9 January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued an advisory opinion that Costa Rica was obligated to legalize same-sex marriage. The Costa Rican government announced that it will abide by the resolution.[95][96] The Foreign Ministry notified the Judiciary, the Supreme Electoral Court (responsible for the Civil Registry) and the Legislative Assembly about the ruling on 12 January.[97][98] On 8 August 2018 a Supreme Court ruling gave deputies 18 months to approve same-sex marriage, otherwise it will became legal without the need for new legislation.[99]

Cuba Cuba: Article 36 of the Constitution of Cuba defines marriage as "the voluntarily established union between a man and a woman".[100] In July 2018, the National Assembly approved revisions to the Constitution which include an amendment to the definition of marriage: "the consensual union of two people, regardless of gender".[101] The constitutional changes will be put to a referendum on 24 February 2019.[102] President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced his support for same-sex marriage in September 2018.[103][104]

Mexico Mexico: A decision of the Mexico Supreme Court on 12 June 2015 ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. The court's ruling is a "jurisprudential thesis" and does not invalidate any state laws, meaning same-sex couples denied the right to wed would still have to seek individual injunctions. The ruling standardized the procedures for judges and courts throughout Mexico, to approve all applications for same-sex marriage,[105][106] and made the approval mandatory.[107] The ruling was published in the country's Judicial Gazette on 19 June 2015 and became binding on 22 June 2015.[108] Some have suggested the ruling "effectively legalises" same-sex marriage in Mexico,[109][110] though without legislative change, civil registrars are still bound to follow the state constitutions.[111][112][113] Following the 2018 general elections, a pro-same-sex marriage party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), won the majority of legislative seats in 12 states where same-sex marriage has not yet been legalized and formed a coalition with an absolute majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate with the Labor Party.[114][115] In September 2018, MORENA Senator Germán Martínez introduced a draft proposal to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide in Mexico.[116]

Panama Panama: On 16 January, the Panamanian Government welcomed the ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that signatories to the American Convention on Human Rights were required to allow same-sex marriages. Vice President Isabel Saint Malo, speaking on behalf of the Government, announced that the country would fully abide by the ruling. Official notices, requiring compliance with the ruling, were sent out to various governmental departments that same day.[117][118]

Venezuela Venezuela: On 31 January 2014, during a debate on a Civil Code reform bill, LGBT activists submitted a proposal seeking to alter Article 44 of the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage. The proposal was accompanied by 21,000 signatures as well as support from the state governments of Barinas, Falcón, Mérida, Monagas, Táchira, Yaracuy and Zulia.[119] In November 2017, President Nicolás Maduro expressed his personal support for same-sex marriage, and said that the Constituent Assembly would agree to discuss legalising same-sex marriage.[120][121] In September 2018, Hermann Escarrá, a member of the Constituent Assembly, said that there are discussions in the drafting of the new Constitution of Venezuela to allow same-sex marriage in the country,[122] and that there is majority of support for that in the assembly.[123] Discussion of each article of the new Constitution is expected to begin at the end of 2018 or early 2019.[124][125]

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.[126] 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".[127]

Non-marital partnership[edit]

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.[128]

Guatemala Guatemala: In December 2016, Congresswoman Sandra Morán of the Convergence Party announced the introduction of a civil unions bill in the Congress of Guatemala.[129]

Peru Peru: On 30 November 2016, a pair of representatives introduced a civil union bill in the Peruvian Congress.[130]

Ban on same-sex marriage[edit]

Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majority[edit]

Bermuda Bermuda: In 2017, the Government introduced a bill that would re-ban same-sex marriage in Bermuda by amending the Human Rights Act to exclude the Matrimonial Causes Act from its jurisdiction, and introduce domestic partnerships for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.[131] The Domestic Partnerships Bill passed the House of Representatives on December 8, and the Senate on December 13. It received Royal Assent in February 2018, and took effect on 1 June 2018. The Bermuda Supreme Court struck down the ban on same-sex marriage on 6 June 2018, but suspended its judgement pending an appeal by the government.[132] The appeal is due to be heard 7-9 November 2018.[133]

Guatemala Guatemala: In 2017, Law 5272 was introduced, containing measures to ban same-sex marriage. The law passed its committee stage and received its first debate in Congress on 22 August 2018.[134] The law may be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge, as the Guatemalan constitution places international human rights treaties, including rulings by the IACHR, above domestic law.[135]

Haiti Haiti: In August 2017, the Haitian Senate approved a bill that would ban same-sex marriage and criminalize anyone who entered or facilitated a same-sex marriage. It must be passed by the Chamber of Deputies and signed by the President before it becomes law.[136]

Public opinion[edit]

  Indicates the country/territory has legalized same-sex marriage nationwide
  Indicates that same-sex marriage is legal in certain parts of the country
Opinion polls for same-sex marriage by country
Country Pollster Year For same-sex marriage Against
Argentina Argentina IPSOS 2015 74%[137] 26%[137]
The Bahamas Bahamas Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 10.6%[138] -
Belize Belize Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 8.4%[138] -
Bolivia Bolivia Pew Research Center 2014 22%[139] 67%[139]
Brazil Brazil DataFolha 2016 44%[140] 42%[140]
Canada Canada CROP 2017 74%[141] 26%[141]
Chile Chile Plaza Pública 2018 65%[142] 32%[142]
Colombia Colombia Gallup 2018 41%[143] 56%[143]
Costa Rica Costa Rica Centro de Investigación y Estudios Políticos 2016 45%[144] 49%[144]
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic CDN 37 2018 45%[145] 55%
Ecuador Ecuador Pew Research Center 2014 16%[139] 74%[139]
El Salvador El Salvador Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP/Pew Research Center 2014 13.9%[138] 81%[138]
Guatemala Guatemala Pew Research Center 2014 12%[139] 82%[139]
Guyana Guyana Barómetro de las Américas 2014 7.6% -
Haiti Haiti Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 6.7%[138] -
Honduras Honduras Estudio de Opinión Pública Honduras 2018 17%[146] 75%
Jamaica Jamaica ILGA 2016 16%[147] 30%[147]
Mexico Mexico Gabinete de Comunicación Estratégica 2016 69%[148] 25%[148]
Nicaragua Nicaragua Pew Research Center 2014 16%[139] 77%[139]
Panama Panama Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP/Pew Research Center 2014 25%[138] 72%[138]
Paraguay Paraguay Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 20.8%[138] -
Peru Peru CPI 2017 13.4%[149] 82.2%[149]
Suriname Suriname Barómetro de las Américas 2014 18.1%[150] -
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago ILGA 2016 22%[151] 50%[151]
United States United States Gallup 2018 67%[152] 31%[152]
Uruguay Uruguay Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 70.6%[138] -
Venezuela Venezuela Baròmetro de las Américas por LAPOP 2014 29.6%[138] 61%[138]
Opinion polls for same-sex marriage by dependent territory
Country Pollster Year For Against Neutral Source
 Bermuda Global Research 2015 48% 45% 7% [153]
 Puerto Rico Pew Research Center 2014 33% 55% 12% [154]

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%[155]
  • 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. Those in favor were mostly women, younger people and Catholics.[156] 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.[157]
  • Chile: A January 2017 nationwide poll found that 45% of Chileans support same-sex adoption.[142]
  • Colombia: A poll conducted between December 2009 and January 2010 in Colombia's capital, Bogotá, showed that 63% of the city's population was in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage while 36% was against it.[158]
  • 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%[159]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Excluding most Native American tribes. (Same-sex marriage is legal at least in 40 of them)


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