Marriage equality, also referred to as same-sex or gay marriage, is legally performed and recognized in some US states and Canada, as well as South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay. It is legal in Australia and New Zealand. In Europe, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have legalized it. South Africa is the only African country that recognizes it, and Mexico (soon to be joined by Costa Rica) – the only Central American one. Taiwan is set to become the first Asian country to legalize it.

This data is valid nationwide or in some jurisdictions as of 2019.

Armenia, Estonia, and Israel recognize same-sex marriages validly entered into in other countries.

The introduction of marriage equality has varied by jurisdiction, being achieved through an apex court ruling based on constitutional guarantees of equality, legislative change to marriage law, or by direct popular vote. Marriage equality is a basic human right. Unsurprisingly, human rights and civil rights organizations are the most fervent supporters, while some religious groups are diehard opponents.

Studies consistently show increasing support for the recognition of same-sex marriage in all democratic countries. Scientific research has proven that gay people’s financial, psychological, and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that gay people’s children benefit from being raised within the framework of a legal, recognized marital union.

Opponents of marriage equality argue that homosexuality is unnatural and abnormal, that same-sex couples cannot raise children well, and that legalizing gay marriage will promote homosexuality. However, these claims have no sound scientific basis. Studies have shown that homosexuality is natural; that children of same-sex couples do just as well as children of opposite-sex couples, and that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice.