The laws pertaining to same-sex marriages in some favourable locations can encompass a wide range of benefits and privileges for the LGBTQ+ community. 34 countries around the world legally recognise same-sex marriage, and 23 of them have legalised marriages nationally through legislation; 10 have legalised them nationally through court decisions; and two others did so after their respective courts permitted them to do so.
The evolution of same-sex marriage laws
Historically, the first same-sex couple to be married legally was Michael McConnell and Jack Baker in 1971 in the United States. Efforts to ensure equal legal rights for gay couples have been going on across the world in varying capacities. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to pass a law providing for equality of marriage between both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and in successive years, several other countries made similar changes to secure rights for same-sex couples, keeping in accordance with certain laws and regulations.
Taiwan is the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. However, the journey is far from complete in most Asian countries, including India. Several same-sex couples hoping to secure legal recognition of their union under Indian law face stringent refusal, which can be an impediment in matters like ownership of property, the right to adoption, the Employment Provident Fund Scheme, and so on. Add to that societal disclaimers and rebuttals, and Indian same-sex couples tend to look to other countries if they desire to get married respectably and comfortably.
Even though 34 countries in the world recognise same-sex marriages, the laws for expat same-sex couples in each country are different from each other, making the process complex from a legal standpoint. However, some countries are more liberal than others in such matters and provide good options for Indian same-sex couples to get married in the easiest way possible. Here are three of the best options:
Sweden is one of the most liberal societies in the world, renowned for its tolerant attitude towards several social concerns. Over the decades, the country has taken steps to secure equitable rights for the LGBTQI+ community and passed laws such as the gender-neutral wedding laws in 2009 and adoption rights for same-sex couples (according to Sweden Sverige).
In 1972, Sweden became the first country in the world to allow the legal change of gender identity. Today, they have progressed in their fight for equality across genders by introducing laws against discrimination and for rights for all. This applies to same-sex weddings as well. The national church of Sweden has also taken a clear stance against prejudice. After gender-neutral marriage came into effect, the Church permitted same-sex marriages, with the parish taking it upon themselves to find priests who would perform the ceremony willingly. Moreover, the church is also said to arrange for rainbow masses with the aim of reflecting every person’s worth from an LGBTQI+ perspective.
Sweden has a government agency called the Equality Ombudsman that works against discrimination based on sex, identity, ethnic origin, rights, religion, or age. The agency often works in the healthcare sector, ensuring that discrimination is overcome on LGBTQI+-related issues. Foreign citizens without Swedish residency can also get married in the country. Swedish immigration law makes no distinction between same-sex partners and heterosexual partners immigrating to the country, so normal immigration and visa application guidelines will apply for same-sex couples looking to get married in Sweden.
Denmark is another country Indian same-sex couples can look at while choosing a country to marry in. Each year, around 20,000 foreign couples go to the country to get married. Since 1989, when it became the first country to implement registered partnerships, Denmark has been making serious efforts to legalise same-sex marriages. In 2012, it became the eleventh country in the world to allow such marriages. And they have good reason to do so. A 2019 study conducted by the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention showed that the legalisation of same-sex marriage had decreased the suicide rate among same-sex partners, indicating a 46% decline between the periods of 1989–2002 and 2003–2016.
Denmark’s laws are simpler than most others’, and Danish authorities welcome expats to get married in the country. It is generally a smooth and simple process, and the lack of paperwork and hurdles that come with same-sex marriages—something that acts as a deterrent in other countries—are what draw many international same-sex couples to Denmark as their wedding destination. While the documentation for marriage varies from couple to couple based on several factors, a few common requirements involve the presentation of proof of the couple’s passport and visa, birth certificates, consent from both parties, and so on.
Indian same-sex couples looking to get married can also try Canada. Same-sex marriage was made legal in Canada way back in 2005, with legal rights such as pensions, tax benefits, and inheritance being applicable to them. Besides these, Canada’s immigration laws permit individuals in same-sex relationships to immigrate to, study in, or work in Canada.
Canada’s immigration law benefits make it a lot more advantageous for expat same-sex couples. Applying for a visitor visa, permanent residency, or work permit for stipulated amounts of time is equally applicable for same-sex couples, according to Canada Immigration Services. If an individual is planning to immigrate to Canada as part of a same-sex couple, they can apply as a couple and gain the advantage of adding points to their applications. Marriage laws, too, according to SDLGBTN, are not as stringent as they are in other countries. Here, same-sex couples are granted rights similar to those enjoyed by heterosexual couples, making the entire process a lot easier.
1) To apply for a licence and marriage certificate, an individual must specify their wedding date, show proof of their current marital status, provide proof of identity, and provide other information that may be required.
2) While 34 countries in the world have legalised same-sex marriages as of this year, each country’s rules and regulations do not allow same-sex couples from other countries to marry in that country unless they are to be married to a native resident of that country. The countries mentioned in this article do not always have the requirement of marrying their citizens.
3) Most countries that recognise and respect same-sex marriage assure equal rights to all individuals, irrespective of sexual orientation and/or gender.
1) Sweden Sverige: https://sweden.se/life/equality/gay-rights-in-sweden
2) RFSL: https://www.rfsl.se/en/lgbtq-facts/marriage-in-sweden/#:~:text=Since%202009%20Sweden%20has%20a,also%20get%20married%20in%20Sweden.
3) Getting married in Denmark (blog): https://gettingmarriedindenmark.com/marriage-hub/required-documents-to-get-married-in-denmark/
4) Canada Immigration Services: https://www.canadaimmigration.services/FamilySponsorship/SameSexSponsorship