Document Type


Publication Date



American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law






This paper briefly explains the situation of same sex couples in countries that have opened marriage to individuals of the same sex, offers a summary and analysis of the status of same sex unions in several countries that have not opened marriage to same sex couples, and provides a comparative analysis of the most recurrent arguments used in the processes of recognition and denial of same sex unions in the countries reviewed.

Forty years ago, same sex couples were not legally accepted in any country. In the last thirty years, however, around 20% of the world has granted some rights to same sex couples, making them visible to society. While there are still countries that criminalize sexual relations among two consenting adults of the same sex, other countries are allowing same sex couples to marry and form a family. Between those two poles, many countries have moved or are moving from total rejection of same sex relationships to acceptance of some sort. At the center of this debate is the role of marriage. While some scholars claim that marriage is essentially heterosexual and the basis for societal structure, others consider the exclusion of same sex couples from marriage unfair discrimination.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.