Costa Rica is the most recent country to have legalized same-sex marriage and it is the only nation in Central America to have done so. Same-sex marriage has advanced in countries and regions where acceptance of homosexuality is high and globally, two-thirds of countries that allow it are in Western Europe. Still, several European governments do not allow same-sex unions, notably Italy and Switzerland, according to Pew Research. South Africa remains the only country to have legalized same-sex marriage in Africa while no counties have done so in Central and Eastern Europe. This chart shows where and since when national laws allow same-sex couples to marry. Check our upcoming releases.
LGBT rights have come a long way in recent years. In , the US Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional and the Republic of Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote following a country-wide referendum. However, while stigma against LGBT communities is certainly lessening in some countries, many states continue to criminalise same-sex sexual contact under the threat of imprisonment or even death.
The tiny nation of Brunei recently caused international outrage when it enacted draconian laws making gay sex a capital crime. Whether Brunei will keep its word remains to be seen, but the small country on the island of Borneo near Malaysia is not the only nation where gay men and women are being persecuted. Sharia law is the fundamental religious concept of Islam. Same-sex sexual activity is a crime in 70 countries.