Marriage equality. It’s a simple thing, right? Two people declaring and celebrating their love for one another in a legally recognised ceremony, regardless of their gender. Though in reality, no matter how much our world has changed, marriage equality is rarely as simple as that. So come with us as we look at what marriage equality means around the world, and how it differs from here in Australia.
Photo via Pixabay
What is marriage equality?
For starters, marriage equality is giving same-sex couples the same legal rights and representations to marry as is afforded heterosexual couples. That’s it, that is the basic premise of marriage equality law. Hardly asking for a lot, is it?
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Australia since the ninth of December, 2017. The law not only recognised the rights of couples to be married in Australia going forward from that date, but also recognised those same-sex marriages that had been performed overseas in countries whose marriage laws already accepted same-sex weddings.
On the map and over the years
The Netherlands were the first country in the world to recognise same-sex marriage back in 2001. Belgium joined them in 2003, and between 2003 and 2005 Canada state by state began to recognise same-sex marriages. Other countries joined them — slowly — though it was in 2013 we could argue same-sex marriage really began to take off around the world, with numerous states of America legalising gay marriage, along with Brazil, France, Uruguay, and New Zealand.
Wales, England, and Scotland joined same-sex marriage recognition over the course of 2014, with Luxembourg, Ireland, and the United States nationwide doing the same in 2015. The latest country to legalise gay marriage is Northern Ireland in January 2020. We still have a long way to go, but it feels like a positive move with so many more countries recognising the validity of gay marriage.
Photo via Wikipedia
The list to date
Here are all the countries which recognise and allow the performance of same-sex marriage: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay. Costa Rica is due to join this list in 2020.
Israel recognises same-sex marriages performed in other countries despite not allowing such marriages to be performed in Israel. Marriage equality is currently being considered in the following: Chile, Curaçao, Czechia, El Salvador, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, the Navajo Nation, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, and Venezuela.
What’s the big deal?
Counterpoint; what isn’t a big deal about this? Spouses get to make medical decisions for their partners when they are ill, co-own property, adopt, and so many other things heterosexual couples take for granted. Marriage equality means the same rights for social benefits, the same protections against discrimination, and has even been shown to enhance financial, psychological, and physical well-being amongst gay people who are allowed to freely marry. In short, being able to marry those we love without prejudice or discrimination has made lives better.
Though there is still a long way to go. How many stories do we hear of bakers refusing to make wedding cakes for gay couples, the owners of those bakeries hiding behind their religion to vindicate their homophobia? How many venues around the world still turn gay couples away, preferring to be bigots instead of hosting a wedding? How many gay people still suffer abuse being hurled at them in the streets for the crime of existing? We’ve come a long way, but we have further still to go.
Photo via Pixabay
Imagine facing criminal charges, fines, imprisonment, or even death for openly being in love? In Brunei you can be stoned to death for performing a same sex act. Many African countries serve prison sentences to those caught having gay sex. In Russia it is forbidden to ‘promote’ homosexuality. With that in mind, how can anybody object to same-sex weddings in the countries where it is legal, knowing what gay people suffer elsewhere?
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