Ireland recently legalized same-sex marriage by referendum, but it was not the first country to allow marriage rights to same-sex couples. While Ireland is the first to legalize the marriages in a popular vote, it joins at least 17 other nations in allowing these types of unions, according to the Los Angeles Times
For years, LGBT activists have worked to earn their civil rights throughout the world, especially same-sex marriages. The tradition of not permitting same-sex marriages is diminishing.
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Here are Ireland’s predecessors in approving same-sex marriage.
1. The Netherlands
In December of 2000, the Dutch parliament passed by a three-to-one margin a bill allowing same-sex marriages, permitting same-sex couples to marry, divorce and adopt children, according to the Pew Research Center.
The first legal gay marriage in the world was in Amsterdam on April 1, 2001, according to Pink Families
Belgium legalized gay marriages in 2003, providing gays the same tax and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples. Belgium, however, had offered limited rights to registered pairs since 1998, giving joint responsibility over households. Couples were permitted to adopt in 2006, according to Pew.
Legislators in Canada provided common-law marriages to same-sex couples starting in 1999, Pew reported. Gradually the practice was made legal in nine of the 13 provinces and territories, but in 2005 Parliament passed legislation making the marriages legal throughout the nation.
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The first Spanish same-sex couple married in 2005 after the parliament passed a measure in the midst of large protests from Vatican officials and large demonstrations in Madrid. The constitutional court upheld the rule after lower court judges refused to provide marriage licenses, according to Pew.
5. South Africa
This country was the first in Africa to legalize gay marriage in 2006, one year after their highest court decided heterosexual-only marriage policy violated the constitution’s equal rights guarantee. Religious institutions and civil officers may refuse to perform the ceremonies, however. The law passed by a margin of more than five to one, but the leader of the Zulu people, a large minority in the nation, find homosexuality to be morally wrong, Pew noted.
Other nations to have legalized same-sex marriages include Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, Uruguay, New Zealand, France, Brazil, England, Wales, Scotland, Luxembourg and Finland.
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