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Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe      Same-sex marriage      Other type of partnership      Unregistered cohabitation      Issue under political consideration      Unrecognized      Constitution limits marriage to man–woman
  
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lesbian, gay, bisexual,
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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights are widely diverse in Europe per country. Five out of the seven countries that have legalised same-sex marriage are situated in Europe; a further nineteen European countries have legalised civil unions or other forms of recognition for same-sex couples. Despite the historic widespread persecution of lesbians and gay men stretching from the late Roman Empire until the late 20th century - including the subjection of homosexuals during the Holocaust - gay people enjoy far greater acceptance in Europe than on any other continent.

The most prominent current issues facing same-sex couples in Europe revolve around legal discrimination mainly in areas such as -

Contents

History

Although same-sex relationships were quite common in ancient Greece, Rome and pagan Celtic societies, after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, severe laws against homosexual behavior appeared. An edict by the Emperor Theodosius I in 390 condemned all "passive" homosexual men to death by public burning. This was followed by the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian I in 529, which prescribed public castration and execution for all who committed homosexual acts, both active and passive partners alike. Justinian's law code then served as the basis for most European countries' laws against homosexuals for the next 1400 years. Homosexual behavior, called sodomy, was considered a capital crime, and thousands of homosexual men were executed across Europe during waves of persecution in these centuries. Lesbians were less often singled out for punishment, but they also suffered persecution and execution from time to time.

Poland is probably the only European country where homosexuality was never considered a crime by the state of law. Forty years after Poland lost its independence in 1795, the sodomy laws of Russia, Prussia, and Austria came into force in the occupied Polish lands. They were officially abandoned in 1932, even though they had had actually no power since Poland regained its independence in 1918.[1][2][3]

During the French Revolution, the French National Assembly rewrote the criminal code in 1791, omitting all reference to homosexuality. During the Napoleonic wars, homosexuality was decriminalised in territories coming under French control, such as the Netherlands and many of the pre-unification German states, however in Germany this ended with the unification of the country under the Prussian Kaiser, as Prussia had long punished homosexuality harshly. On 6 August 1942, the Vichy government made homosexual relations with anyone under twenty-one illegal as part of its conservative agenda. Most Vichy legislation was repealed after the war– but the anti-gay Vichy law remained on the books for four decades until it was finally repealed in August 1982 when the age of consent (15) was again made the same for heterosexual as well as homosexual partners.

Nevertheless, gay men and lesbians continued to live closeted lives, since moral and social disapproval by heterosexual society remained strong in France and across Europe for another two centuries, until the modern gay rights movement began in 1969.

Various countries under dictatorships in the 20th century were very anti-homosexual, such as in Nazi Germany, and in Spain under Francisco Franco's regime. In contrast, after Poland regained independence after World War II, it went on in 1932 to become the first country in 20th century Europe to decriminalise homosexual activity, followed by Denmark in 1933, Iceland in 1940, Switzerland in 1942 and Sweden in 1944.

In 1979, a number of people in Sweden called in sick with a case of being homosexual, in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden became the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness.[4]. In 1989, Denmark was the first country in Europe, and the world, to introduce registered partnerships for same-sex couples. In 2001 a next step was made, when the Netherlands opened civil marriage for same-sex couples, which made it the first country in the world to do so. Since then, four other European states followed (Belgium in 2003, Spain in 2005 and Norway and Sweden in 2009).

On 22 October 2009, the assembly of the Church of Sweden, voted strongly in favour of giving its blessing to homosexual couples.[5], including the use of the term marriage, ("matrimony"). The new law was introduced on November 1, 2009 and is the first case in the world.

Recent developments

Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples in Europe      Gay adoption legal      Step-child adoption legal      Gay adoption illegal      Unknown/Ambiguous

A bill entitled as the Equal Marriage Code Bill 2010 will be introduced in Portugal in January 2010 as the ruling Socialist Party and other left-wing parties (which support same-sex marriage) won a majority of the seats in the Portuguese Parliament after elections back in September 27, 2009.[6]

There is also a strong possibility that same-sex marriage will become legal in 4 European countries in 2010; Iceland, Portugal, Slovenia and Luxembourg. Estonia, Faroe Islands and Liechtenstein are expected to pass registered relationship laws in 2010. Meanwhile Ireland and the two UK Crown territories of Isle of Man and Jersey are considering civil partnership laws in 2010.

Six countries do not allow homosexuals to openly serve in the armed forces. The only countries to ban gays from military service are Belarus, Cyprus, Latvia[citation needed], Serbia, Greece and Turkey. All other European countries allow LGBT people to openly serve in the armed forces.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) decriminalised male homosexual acts in 2008, the last part of Europe to do so. The law took effect on 1 January, 2009.[7][8]

Public opinion around Europe

In a 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project surveyed by the Pew Research Center, showed majorities in every Western European nation said homosexuality should be accepted by society, while most Russians, Poles and Ukrainians disagreed.[9] In 2006 a recent Eurobarometer poll surveying up to 30,000 people from each European Union countries, showed split opinion around the 27 member states on the issue of same sex marriage. The majority of support came from the Netherlands (82%), Sweden (71%), Denmark (69%), Belgium (62%), Luxembourg (58%), Spain (56%), Germany (52%) and Czech Republic (52%). All other countries within the EU had below 50% support; with Romania (11%), Latvia (12%), Cyprus (14%), Bulgaria (15%), Greece (15%), Poland (17%), Lithuania (17%) and Malta (18%) at the other end of the list.[10] Same sex adoption had majority support from only two countries: Netherlands at 69% and Sweden at 51% and the least support from Poland and Malta on 7% respectively.[10]

A more recent survey carried out in October 2008 by The Observer affirmed that the majority of Britons - 55% - support gay marriage.[11] Other polls show that the majority of the Irish public support civil unions and gay adoption, 51% and 50%, respectively.[12] France has support for same sex marriage at 62%,[13] and Russians at 14%.[14] Italy has support for the 'Civil Partnership Law' between gays at 45% with 47% opposed.[15] In 2009 58.9% of Italians supported civil unions, while 40.4 supported same-sex marriage.[16]

According to pollster Gallup Europe: women, younger generations, and the highly educated are more likely to support same-sex marriage and adoption rights for gay people.[17]

Legislation by country or territory

EU flag
Four countries currently ban all forms of heterosexist discrimination: Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. Membership in the European Union not only requires repeal of anti-homosexuality legislation, the Treaty of Amsterdam also requires anti-discrimination legislation to be enacted by its member states.[18]

Northern Europe

LGBT rights in: Homosexual acts legal? Recognition of same-sex relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Åland Islands Åland Islands (self-governing part of Finland) Yes Legal since 1971 Yes Legal since 2002 No Yes Only in registered partnerships and only with partner's children Demilitarised Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Denmark Denmark Yes Legal since 1933
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 1989 No Yes Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Estonia Estonia Yes Legal since 1992
+ UN decl. sign.
No (but proposed) No No It is possible for any single individual to adopt if they can prove to be suitable to bring up a child. Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Faroe Islands Faroe Islands (self-governing part of Denmark) Yes Legal since 1933 No (but proposed) No No Yes (Denmark responsible for defence) Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Finland Finland Yes Legal since 1971
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 2002 No Yes Only in registered partnerships and only with partner's children Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Greenland Greenland (member country of the Kingdom of Denmark) Yes Legal since 1933
+UN decl. sign via Denmark.
Yes Legal since 1996 No Yes Only in registered partnerships and only with partner's children Yes (Denmark responsible for defence) Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Iceland Iceland Yes Legal since 1940
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 1996 No (Marriage Code 2010 pending) Yes Only in registered partnerships Has no army Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Republic of Ireland Ireland Yes Legal since 1993
+ UN decl. sign.
No (Civil Partnerships Bill 2009 pending) No Single gay persons may adopt Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination, as well hate speech against homosexuals No Transsexual persons not allowed to change legal gender after sex reassignment surgery. The High court has ruled that this situation is not allowed by the European Convention on Human Rights
Isle of Man Isle of Man Yes Legal since 1991 No / Yes Civil partnerships from UK partially recognised, Civil Partnership (Isle of Man) Bill 2010 pending. No No (But proposed) Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Latvia Latvia Yes Legal since 1992
+ UN decl. sign.
No No Constitutional ban since 2006 No Only married couples can adopt Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Lithuania Lithuania Yes Legal since 1993
+ UN decl. sign.
No No Constitutional ban since 1992 No Only married couples can adopt Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Norway Norway Yes Legal since 1972
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 1993 Yes Legal since 2009 Yes Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes Sex changes are legal and documents can be amended to the recognised gender.
Sweden Sweden Yes Legal since 1944
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 1995 Yes Legal since 2009 Yes Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination and publication, including hate speech against homosexuals and transgendered persons Yes Sex change can only be done after recommendations by the National Board of Health and Welfare, for health and safety reasons
United Kingdom United Kingdom Yes Legal since 1967 in England and Wales, 1980 in Scotland and 1982 in Northern Ireland
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Civil partnerships since 2005 No Yes Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination, as well as religion-based hate speech against homosexuals [19] Yes Gender Recognition Act 2004

Western Europe

LGBT rights in: Homosexual acts legal? Recognition of same-sex relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Belgium Belgium Yes Legal since 1843
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 2000 Yes Legal since 2003 Yes Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination
France France Yes Legal since 1791
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Pacte civil de solidarité
since 1999
Yes No Single gay persons may adopt Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination In 2010, France became the first country in the world to remove transgender identity from the list of mental diseases.
Guernsey Guernsey (incl. Alderney Alderney, Herm Herm and Sark Sark) Yes legal since 1983 (Age of consent discrepancy) No No No UK responsible for defence No
Jersey Jersey Yes legal since 1990 No Civil Partnership (Jersey) Bill 2010 pending No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Luxembourg Luxembourg Yes Legal since 1795
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 2004 No (proposed) No (proposed) Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Monaco Monaco Yes Legal since 1793 No No No France responsible for defence No
Netherlands Netherlands Yes Legal since 1811
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 1998 Yes Legal since 2001. First country to legalize same-sex marriage. Yes Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination

Central Europe

LGBT rights in: Homosexual acts legal? Recognition of same-sex relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Austria Austria Yes Legal since 1971
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Registered partnership since 2010 No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Croatia Croatia Yes Legal since 1977
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Unregistered cohabitation since 2003 No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Yes Act on the elimination of discrimination
Czech Republic Czech Republic Yes Legal since 1962
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Registered partnership since 2006. No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Germany Germany Yes Legal since 1968 in East Germany and 1969 in West Germany
totally legalized 1994
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Registered partnership since 2001 No Single gay persons may adopt or a partner can adopt the other partner's child (full joint adoption is proposed)[20] Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Hungary Hungary Yes Legal since 1962
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Registered partnership since 2009 No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Yes Legal since 1989
+ UN decl. sign.
No Registered Partnership Bill 2010 pending No No Has no army No (but proposed)
Poland Poland Yes Never punished. Legal again since 1932
+ UN decl. sign.
No No Constitution defines marriage as "a union of a man and a woman" Single gay persons may adopt Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Yes Sex change legal; birth certificate is amended after the reassignment surgery[21]
Slovakia Slovakia Yes Legal since 1962
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Slovenia Slovenia Yes Legal since 1977
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Registered partnership since 2006 No (proposed) No (proposed) Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Yes Sex change can be recorded in a central register, and new documents can be issued based on person's new gender identity.[22]
Serbia Serbia Yes Legal since 1994
+ UN decl. sign.
No No Constitutional ban No No Don't ask, don't tell policy (similar to the US) Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Switzerland Switzerland Yes Geneva, Vaud, Valais and Ticino: legal since 1798. Nationwide since 1942
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Registered partnership since 2007 No Single gay persons may adopt. Non-biological partner must provide educational and financial tutorship for his/her partner's child Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination

Eastern Europe

LGBT rights in: Homosexual acts legal? Recognition of same-sex relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Albania Albania Yes Legal since 1995
+ UN decl. sign.
No Prime Minister Berisha stated in 2009 that he would support gay marriage, however, this has not been legislated yet. No [23] No Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination, effective February 4, 2010 [24] Yes rights law approved Feb 4 2010 forbids discrimination based on gender identity.
Armenia Armenia (terminology "European" varies on border defintions) Yes Legal since 2002
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Unknown No
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (terminology "European" varies on border defintions) Yes Legal since 2000 No No No No Banned from military service No
Belarus Belarus Yes Legal since 1994 No No No No Banned from military service No
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Yes Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Bulgaria Bulgaria Yes Legal since 1968
+ UN decl. sign.
No No Constitutional ban No Single gay person may adopt Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Georgia (country) Georgia (terminology "European" varies on border defintions) Yes Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Unknown Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia Yes Legal since 1996
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Moldova Moldova Yes Legal since 1995 No No Constitutional ban No Yes No
Montenegro Montenegro Yes Legal since 1977
+ UN decl. sign.
No No Constitutional ban No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Romania Romania Yes Legal since 1996
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination
Russia Russia (incl. all constituent regions) Yes Legal since 1993. Previously legal from 1917 to 1930. No No No Yes No
Turkey Turkey Yes Legal since 1858 No No No No particular legal ban. Yes They are exempt from the military service and marked as mentally ill. No Added to constitution in 2004, but withdrawn afterwards by the government Yes
Ukraine Ukraine Yes Legal since 1992 No No Constitutional ban No Yes No

Southern Europe

LGBT rights in: Homosexual acts legal? Recognition of same-sex relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Andorra Andorra Yes Legal since 1790
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 2005 No Yes Legal since 2005 Has no army Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Cyprus Cyprus Yes Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Gibraltar Gibraltar (overseas territory of the U.K.) Yes Legal since 1993 (Age of consent discrepancy) No No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Greece Greece Yes Legal since 1951 (Age of consent discrepancy)
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No No Banned from military service Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Italy Italy Yes Legal since 1890
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Only married couples can adopt Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination
Malta Malta Yes Legal since 1973
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Yes Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Yes Sex changes are legal and documents can be amended to the recognised gender.
Portugal Portugal Yes Legal since 1983
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 2001 No but legalization approved on February 11, 2010 in Portugese parliament. Presidential consent very probable. No (only single gay persons may adopt) Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination, according to Constitution
San Marino San Marino Yes Legal since 2001
+ UN decl. sign.
No No No Unknown No
Spain Spain Yes Legal since 1979
+ UN decl. sign.
Yes Legal since 1998 Yes Legal since 2005 Yes Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes La Ley de Identidad de Género (Gender Identity Law), enacted in 2007.
Vatican City Vatican City Yes Legal since 1929 No No No Unknown No

Disputed territories

LGBT rights in: Homosexual acts legal? Recognition of same-sex relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Kosovo Kosovo (only partially recognised, claimed by Serbia) Yes Legal since 1994 (as part of Serbia), 2008 (as partially recognised sovereign territory) No No No Yes Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes
Northern Cyprus Turkish Republic Northern Cyprus (recognised only by the Republic of Turkey) Yes British colonial era sodomy laws from 1889 eliminated by North Cyprus government in 2009. No No No No particular legal ban. No Banned from military service. (with the same code in Turkey) No

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.globalgayz.com/country/Poland/view/POL/a-brief-history-of-gay-poland
  2. ^ http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/poland.html
  3. ^ http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/poland.html#6
  4. ^ Jag känner mig lite homosexuell idag | quistbergh.se
  5. ^ Kyrkomötet öppnade för enkönade äktenskap - DN.se
  6. ^ SSM legislation Portugal
  7. ^ "Northern Cyprus decriminalises homosexuality". Pink news. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-2726.html. Retrieved 29 January 2006. 
  8. ^ "N. Cyprus To Abolish Sodomy Law". 365gay.com. http://www.365gay.com/Newscon06/10/102006cyprus.htm. Retrieved 29 January 2006. 
  9. ^ "Views of a Changing World 2003". The Pew Research Center. http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=185. Retrieved 29 January 2007. 
  10. ^ a b "Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage". Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14203. Retrieved 29 January 2006. 
  11. ^ Sex uncovered poll: Homosexuality | Life and style | The Observer
  12. ^ "Irish Ponder Same-Sex Unions, Adoption". Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/10964. Retrieved 29 January 2006. 
  13. ^ "French Back Same-Sex Marriage, Not Adoption". Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14058. Retrieved 29 January 2006. 
  14. ^ "Same-Sex Marriage Nixed By Russians". Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/5986. Retrieved 29 January 2006. 
  15. ^ "Italians Divided Over Civil Partnership Law". Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14801. Retrieved 21 February 2007. 
  16. ^ Italiani più avanti della politica | Arcigay
  17. ^ "Public opinion and same-sex unions (2003)". ILGA Europe. http://www.ilga-europe.org/europe/issues/marriage_and_partnership/public_opinion_and_same_sex_unions_2003. Retrieved 29 January 2006. 
  18. ^ http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/12002M/pdf/12002M_EN.pdf
  19. ^ Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (c. 4)
  20. ^ Zypries backs adoption for gay couples - The Local
  21. ^ http://www.transseksualizm.pl/portal.php?show=6&forum=74
  22. ^ www.dz-rs.si
  23. ^ Macho-minded Albania to break gay marriage taboo | Oddly Enough | Reuters
  24. ^ "Albania protects LGBT people from discrimination". ILGA-Europe. 5 February 2010. http://www.ilga-europe.org/europe/news/latest_news/albania_protects_lgbt_people_from_discrimination. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 

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