One-billion strong for equality

The Empire State Building, lit up to celebrate marriage equality in New York State

Last night same-sex marriage became legal in the state of New York, making it one of just seven states (including the District of Columbia) to offer gay marriage in the US.

A while ago I tried to crunch statistics on gay marriage, but it’s a tricky subject. Across the world same-sex relationships are defined with different terminology and legal status. Today I traveled the internet and used my best number crunching skills to finish up those global gay marriage statistics. Here’s what I found out.

Across the world, 371 million people in 12 countries (including some states in the US and Mexico) have access to gay marriage performed and recognised by their home state or country. This represents 5.4 percent of people on this planet.

Another 634 million people (9.2 percent of people) in 24 countries (including some states in the US and the state of Meride in Venezuela) have access to civil unions and domestic partnerships performed by either their national or local state government.

In total, 1,005,000,000 people live in 35 countries or states where governments offer same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships or civil unions. Last night’s vote in New York means over one billion people are now offered protections by their government if they have a same-sex partnership. It’s 14.5 percent of people on Earth.

And here’s the breakdown.

Seven US states offer gay marriage to their citizens. They represent 35 million Americans from a total US population of 308 million, meaning just 11.4 percent of Americans have access to same-sex marriage rights. A further 24 million (7.7 percent) Americans in four states have access to civil unions. And another 68 million Americans (22 percent) in eight states have access to domestic partnership benefits that range from recognition comparable to civil unions (California) to limited funeral and inheritance rights (Colorado).

In total 41.2 percent of Americans, 127 million men and women across 19 states, have access to some form of domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.

42 states have banned same-sex marriage through constitution or state statute, the largest being Texas. These bans prohibit 242 million people, some 84.7 percent of Americans, from marrying their same-sex partner. Same-sex marriage rights are banned for seven times as many Americans as they are afforded.

The Defence of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996. It bans the American federal government from recognising same-sex marriages conducted by states where it has been made legal.

Outside of the US, the European Union (EU) is home to 501 million people in 27 member-states. There are 99 million people in seven countries that have access to same-sex marriage, that’s 19.8 percent of the EU population. All of these countries are situated in Western Europe. A further 257 million people (51.3 percent of the EU) in eleven European countries (including France, the UK, and Germany) have access to civil unions or domestic partner benefits.

This means that almost three-quarters (356 million – 71.1 percent) of people living in the EU are afforded recognition of same-sex partnerships.

Within the EU there are five countries – home to 61 million people (12.1 percent of the EU) – where same-sex marriage is banned, the largest of these is Poland. Membership of the EU requires repeal of homophobic legislation and enforcement of non-discrimination laws to protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

Outside of Europe just three countries allow nationwide same-sex marriages; Canada, South Africa, and Argentina. They are home to 125 million people. Another ten countries totaling 271 million people allow civil unions or domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples, with the majority (190 million) living in Brazil.

And there are some rogue exceptions to the statistical borders given so far.

In the Venezuelan state of Meride, home to 843,000 people, same-sex civil unions are legal. They are not recognised elsewhere in Venezuela. In Mexico, same-sex marriage is only performed in Mexico City, although a marriage conducted there is valid and recognised across Mexico; which makes it an option for 112 million Mexicans. And in Australia, four states representing 14 million people offer domestic partnership benefits.

For reference.

Countries and states offering full marriage equality to same-sex partners:

Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, Connecticut (US), Iowa (US), Massachusetts (US), New Hampshire (US), New York (US), Vermont (US), District of Columbia (US).

Countries and states offering civil unions, domestic partnerships or other forms of recognition to same-sex partners:

Andorra, Austria, Brazil, Columbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, California (US), Colorado (US), Delaware (US), Hawaii (US), Illinois (US), Maine (US), Maryland (US), Nevada (US), New Jersey (US), Oregon (US), Washington (US), Wisconsin (US), Australian Capital Territory (AUS), New South Wales (AUS), Tasmania (AUS), Victoria (AUS), Meride (VEN).

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