Activist countries

“Love is love”: Countries where same-sex marriage and surrogacy are legal

Cubans voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriage, making the country the 33rd to stop defining marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman.

Cuba’s historic new family code also permits “altruistic” surrogacy, whereby a woman gives birth to a baby on behalf of another woman or a couple, but no money changes hands except for expenses.

Here is a global overview of same-sex marriage and surrogacy:

Europe, a pioneer of same-sex marriage

The Netherlands became the first country in the world in 2001 to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Since then, 17 European countries have followed: Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia and Switzerland. Most also allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Some countries allow same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships but not to marry, namely the Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary and Italy.

Most Eastern European countries do not allow same-sex marriage or civil partnership.

In Russia, homosexuality was considered a crime until 1993 and a mental illness until 1999. Now legal, a 2013 law punishes the promotion of homosexuality among minors.

In Hungary, a law passed in 2021 made the “promotion” of homosexuality or gender reassignment to minors punishable by a fine.

Assisted reproduction for lesbian couples is authorized in 12 European countries; the Nordic countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Austria, Ireland and France.

Far fewer countries allow surrogacy, with critics lambasting the practice, which is permitted in Russia and Ukraine, for turning women into “wombs for hire”.

“Altruistic” surrogacy is legal in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and a handful of other countries prohibit all surrogacy.

(Photograph: AFP)