LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

England & Wales say “I do” to marriage equality

Today England and Wales became the 10th European jurisdiction to introduce marriage equality as the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was approved in the final reading by the House of Lords.

In the beginning of this year, 14% of the European population lived in countries with marriage equality. With France introducing marriage equality earlier in April, and now England and Wales, this percentage has more than doubled: 30% of the European population live in countries with marriage equality.

ILGA-Europe warmly welcomes today’s by the House of Lords and congratulates the UK government, parliamentarians and civil society for this important human rights victory.

Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:

“Today, the land of Magna Carta sealed another historic transformation. Marriage is an institution which is dear and close to many people’s hearts, beliefs and lives. It was shaped and transformed over hundreds of years by different traditions, interpretations and customs. The debate leading to the adoption of the marriage equality law has shown that British society and its politicians have once again embraced change, to update the institution of marriage to that which is equally open and accessible to all, in the name of justice and human rights.”

Similar legislation was introduced into the Scottish parliament by the Scottish government and a public consultation regarding this proposal is taking place right now.

So far all attempts to introduced marriage equality were defeated by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The other nine European counties with marriage equality: the Netherlands (2001); Belgium (2003), Spain (2005); Norway, Sweden (2009), Portugal, Iceland (2010); Denmark (2012) and France (201).

According to our Rainbow Europe’s Index (May 2013), the UK came on top among 49 European countries in terms of laws and policies affecting the human rights of LGBTI people.