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A Look at Gay Marriage in Some Countries

Thu Mar 4, 1:58 PM ET

By The Associated Press

Here is the legal status of gay marriage in Europe and other parts of the world:



Belgium — Legalized gay marriage in 2002.


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Britain — Plans to introduce legislation soon authorizing civil unions giving gay couples legal recognition with most of the rights enjoyed by married partners.


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Canada — Considering legislation to legalize gay marriage.


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Denmark — The first country to legalize same-sex unions in 1989, later giving couples adoption rights. Other Nordic countries followed in 1990s.


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France — Allows civil unions since 2000.


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Germany — Introduced civil unions in 2001.


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Italy — Does not recognize same-sex unions.


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The Netherlands — Became the first country to legalize gay marriages outright in 2001.


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Portugal_ Lesbian and gay couples who live together acquire the same rights as heterosexuals in common-law marriages.

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Spain — Like most Roman Catholic countries, Spain does not recognize gay unions. But some northern regions, such as Navarra and the Basque country, recognize gay common-law couples and accord them rights of spouses.

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South Africa_ Recognized gay rights in its constitution after apartheid ended in 1994. Activists are preparing litigation to have the common law definition of marriage extended to include same-sex couples.

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Switzerland_ Its largest city, Zurich, started recognizing registered gay couples last July. Geneva also recognizes same-sex couples, although grants them fewer rights. Swiss authorities are considering whether to introduce a national law to harmonize treatment throughout the country.


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