Worldwide Geography of Laws Recognizing Homosexual Unions

A Tendency That Started in Scandinavia

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ROME, AUGUST 1, 2003 ( The recent document published by the Vatican concerning homosexual unions responds to laws approved on this matter in countries around the world or of draft laws currently under study.

The following is a summary of such laws as found in countries throughout the world.

–Scandinavia: Denmark was the first Nordic country (1989) which allowed the registration of the civil union of two persons of the same sex. Norway (1993), Sweden (1994), Iceland (1996), and Finland (2002) then adopted this decision. Homosexual couples have the same rights as married heterosexual couples, but they cannot adopt a child or take recourse to artificial insemination, with the exception of Sweden, where adoptions have been possible since 2002.

–France: Since October of 1999, according to the law regulating civil unions (PACS), homosexual couples benefit from fiscal (joint tax returns, rights of inheritance), and social (work permits, housing) dispositions just like married couples.

–Canada: Homosexual couples are recognized since April of 2000. A draft law on homosexual «matrimony» is currently being debated.

–Germany: Since August of 2001, a «contract of common life» gives similar rights to homosexual couples as those of matrimony, although it does not grant the fiscal regime proper to married heterosexual couples nor the possibility to adopt children.

Belgium: Since June of 2003, the law authorizes homosexual «matrimony» with the same rights as heterosexual matrimony, with the exception of adoption.

–Croatia: Since July 2003, homosexual couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples who live in free union.

–Great Britain: A «civil union» draft for England and Wales was published by the government on June 30. This new juridical statute would give homosexual couples the rights of the heterosexual. It must be submitted to Parliament before the end of the year.

–Italy: Since 1998, the cities of Pisa and Florence have opened a Registry of homosexual unions.

–Switzerland: The cantons of Zurich and Geneva have adopted a «civil pact of solidarity.»

–Spain: The autonomies of the Basque Nation, Navarre, Andalucia, and Catalonia have adopted laws on «unions of persons of the same sex.»

–United States: The state of Vermont recognizes the civil union of homosexual couples. The state of New Jersey (December of 1997), and the city of San Francisco authorize the joint adoption of a child by a homosexual couple.

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