Same-sex marriage (also called homosexual marriage, gay marriage) is the marriage between two people of the same biological sex or gender identity. Advocates of legal recognition of same-sex marriage generally refer to its recognition as equal marriage.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, 29 countries and territories have allowed same-sex couples to marry throughout their territory in the following chronological order: The Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Canada and Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway and Sweden (2009), Argentina, Iceland and Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), Brazil, France, New Zealand and Uruguay (2013), Scotland, England, Luxembourg and Wales (2014), Ireland, Finland and the United States (2015), Colombia (2016), Taiwan , Germany , Malta, Austria Australia (2017) and Costa Rica (2018).
Australia came to recognise same-sex marriage on December 7, 2017, after the country’s parliament passed the same-sex marriage law but which will only be valid in 2019. Two days later, Australia’s parliament also approved same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriages entered into in other countries are not recognised as legal marriages in Australia. Some state and territorial governments allow people to register their same-sex relationship, as in the case of the de facto relationship.
In some countries, allowing same-sex couples to marry has replaced the previous system of civil unions or registered partnerships. In others, marriages and civil unions are celebrated for heterosexual or homo affective couples.
In many countries, the recognition of such marriages is a matter of civil, political, social, moral and religious rights.
The main conflicts are over the authorisation of same-sex couples to marry, the obligation to use a different status (such as a civil union), or the impossibility of these couples to possess any of these rights. Another question is whether the term marriage should be applied.
Various types of same-sex marriages have existed and range from unsanctioned informal relationships to highly ritualised unions.
In the southern Chinese province of Fujian, during the period of the Ming Dynasty, women engaged in contracts with other younger women in elaborate ceremonies. Men also entered into similar agreements. This kind of arrangement was also the same in the history of ancient Europe.
An example of a male egalitarian family union from the beginning of the Zhou dynasty period in China is recorded in the history of Pan Zhang and Zhongxian Wang. Although the general community approved the relationship and compared to heterosexual marriage, it did not involve a religious ceremony that linked the couple.
The first historical mention of same-sex marriages occurred during the early Roman Empire.
It is reported that Emperor Nero was involved in a wedding ceremony with a young man called Spore, castrated by his order and treated like a woman; and there is the remote possibility that he also married Pythagoras, one of his slaves.
Emperor Heliogabalus was “married” to a slave named Hierocles.
Note, however, that the riddle existed only between Romanus Civilians.
The idea implicit in the word is that a man takes a woman into marriage, in matrimonium ducere, so that he can have children with her.
Despite the lack of legal validity, there is a consensus among modern historians that same-sex relationships existed in ancient Rome, but the exact frequency and nature of these unions during this period are obscure.
In 342, however, the Christian emperors Constâncio II and Constante I issued a law in the Code of Theodosius (C.Th. 9. 7.3) which prohibited homosexual marriage in Rome and ordered the execution of those who did so.
In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to grant same-sex couples the right to marry. Since then, same-sex marriages have also been granted and mutually recognized by Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), Uruguay (2013), France (2013), New Zealand (2013), Brazil (2013), England, Scotland and Wales (2014), Luxembourg (2015), the United States (2015), Ireland (2015) and Colombia (2016). In Mexico, same-sex marriage is recognised in all 31 states but is only performed in Mexico City and the states of Quintana Roo, Cohahuila, Chihuahua and Guerrero. In Nepal, their recognition has been judicially recognised, but not yet legislated. In 2013, about 1 billion people (or 15% of the world’s population) lived in areas that recognise homosexual or transgender marriage.
The recognition of such marriages is a matter of civil, political, social, moral and religious rights in many countries. The main conflicts arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, whether they are obliged to use a different status (such as a civil union), or whether they do not have any of these rights. A related question is whether the term “marriage” should be applied.
One argument in favour of same-sex marriage is that denying same-sex couples access to marriage and all its associated legal benefits represents discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Another argument in support of same-sex marriage is the statement that financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children of same-sex couples can benefit from being raised by two parents within a union legally recognised and supported by institutions of society.
Scientific associations also claim that keeping same-sex men and women ineligible for marriage both stigmatises them and drives public discrimination against them.
Other arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are based on universal human rights, concerns about physical and mental health, equality before the law and the goal of normalising LGBT relations.
Al Sharpton and several other authors attribute the opposition to same-sex marriage as coming from homophobia or heterosexist and compare such a ban on same-sex marriage with the old prohibitions on interracial marriages.