Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Today in 2010, Iceland Becomes Ninth Nation to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage became legal in Iceland today, June 27, in 2010. A bill providing for a gender-neutral marriage definition was passed by the Icelandic Althing on June 11, 2010. No members of Parliament voted against the bill, and public opinion polls suggested that the bill was very popular in Iceland. Iceland became the ninth country in the world to have legalized same-sex marriage. 

Iceland has become a popular marriage destination for same-sex couples and is listed in the "Top 10 Gay Wedding Destinations" by Lonely Planet.

Before same-sex marriage became legal, registered partnerships for same-sex couples were introduced in Iceland in 1996. This legislation was repealed with the passing of the gender-neutral marriage law.

The legislation granted the same range of protections, responsibilities and benefits as marriage, and was only available to same-sex couples. All parties in the Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament, were in favor of the law.

In May 2000, the Icelandic Parliament approved amendments, in a 49-1 vote, to the registered partnership law. Foreigners could enter a registered partnership if they had been residing in Iceland for at least 2 years. Another amendment allows for a person in a registered partnership to adopt the biological child of his or her partner, unless the child was adopted from a foreign country. Iceland became the second country in the world, after Denmark, to grant same-sex couples some adoption rights.

In 2006, Parliament voted for legislation granting same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexuals in adoption, parenting and assisted insemination treatment. No member of Parliament voted against the proposal and the law came into effect today, June 27, in 2006.

An amendment which also took force on June 27, but in 2008, allowed the Church of Iceland and other religious groups to bless same-sex registered partnerships.


Notable Icelandic individuals joined in registered partnership included the then-Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, and her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir (pictured at right). When same-sex marriage became legal on June 27, 2010, they had their registered partnership transformed into a recognized marriage. She became the first world leader to enter into a same-sex marriage.

As of 2018, same-sex marriage is recognized by law (nationwide or in some parts) in the following 25 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay. Additionally, Armenia, Estonia, and Israel recognize the marriages of same-sex couples validly entered into in other countries. Same-sex marriage is also due to soon become recognized by law in Taiwan and Austria. Furthermore, after a motion lodged by Costa Rica, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage on January 9, 2018, which is expected to facilitate recognition in several countries in the Americas.

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