aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Same sex unions recognized around the world
While state after state in the United States closes its doors to the prospect of same-sex marriage, lesbian and gay relationships have been gaining acceptance in the rest of the world.
Last month, South Africa joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Spain in opening civil marriage to same-sex couples, allowing them equal economic benefits, legal rights and social status as families. The law, passed by an astounding 230-41 margin in Parliament, was in response to an equally notable unanimous decision last year by the South African Constitutional Court. It ruled that the post-apartheid constitution ensures the dignity and equality of all people—and that includes lesbian and gay couples wishing to affirm their love and commitment through civil marriage.
Days afterward, when faced with five Israeli lesbian and gay couples who had married in Canada, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the government is required to officially register them as they would any other foreign marriage. [...]
Denmark in 1989 became the first nation to legally recognize same-sex relationships, and Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland swiftly followed. Much of Europe, including France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary, now recognizes same-sex partnerships for a range of purposes, including inheritance, property and social-benefits rights. Countries in formerly communist blocs—the Czech Republic and Slovenia—recognize partnerships, and Croatia has extended some economic benefits to same-sex couples.
In September, the Senate in Uruguay voted 25 to 2 to pass a broad partnership law, positioning that country to be the first Latin-American nation to extend legal rights when it is passed by the full legislature. New Zealand’s and Australia’s domestic-partnership laws allow some of the most important benefits, such as immigration, inheritance and property rights. In Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Switzerland, some economic and legal rights have been extended by city and regional authorities. Just last month, Mexico City broke ground as the first government entity in Mexico to recognize same-sex civil unions.