Today, Britain became the 15th country to legalize gay marriage after a bill cleared Parliament and Queen Elizabeth II signed off on the law. This news comes just weeks after the US Supreme Court struck down DOMA and dismissed Prop 8, marking major strides for LGBT rights in America.
We're seeing more and more wins for marriage equality around the world, but there's still a long way to go, especially considering that homosexuality is, sadly, punishable by death in some Asian and African countries. So as we hope to see more acceptance of the LGBT community globally, let's cheer on the countries that have paved the way for same-sex marriage by legalizing it nationwide:
- The Netherlands: In 2001, The Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. The country's first marriage was performed in Amsterdam's city hall on April 1, 2001.
- Belgium: The country's gay-marriage law took effect June 1, 2003.
- Spain: Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since July 3, 2005.
- Canada: On July 20, 2005, Canada became the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
- South Africa: Same-sex marriage became law in South Africa on Nov. 30, 2006, becoming the first and so far only African country to do so.
- Norway: Norway's gay-marriage law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
- Sweden: Same-sex marriage became legal in Sweden on May 1, 2009.
- Portugal: On June 5, 2010, same-sex marriage was legalized in Portugal.
- Iceland: Iceland's same-sex marriage law took effect on June 27, 2010.
- Argentina: Same-sex marriage in Argentina has been legal since July 22, 2010. Argentina was the first country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage nationwide.
- Denmark: On June 15, 2012, Denmark's gay-marriage law took effect. The country had been the first in the world to legally recognize same-sex couples through registered partnerships in 1989.
- Uruguay: On April 10, Uruguayan lawmakers voted to legalize gay marriage, becoming the second South American country to do so.
- New Zealand: On April 17, lawmakers in New Zealand passed a new law legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill will take effect in August.
- France: France also legalized gay marriage in April with a law sponsored by the new Socialist President Francois Hollande.
- Britain: After a bill to legalize same-sex marriage cleared Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II signed off to make it official on July 17, and gay wedding ceremonies are expected to start in 2014.