Marriage for same-sex partners

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What you should know about this indicator

The indicator is coded as follows: Legal (equal marriage is legal and fully implemented. There might be civil unions or not), Partially legal (equal marriage is legal, but not fully implemented. There might be civil unions or not), _No legal provisions_ (there are no laws regulating marriage equality nor civil unions), Ban and marriage both partial (equal marriage is partially implemented or equal marriage is banned but not fully implemented. Civil unions are partially implemented as well), Partially banned (equal marriage is banned but not fully implemented or it is banned but there is partial implementation of civil unions or equal marriage) and Banned (equal marriage is banned and fully implemented. There are no civil unions).

Marriage for same-sex partners
Measures if there is no legal distinction between same-sex and different-sex marriages, if civil unions are considered instead or if same-sex marriages are banned.
Velasco (2020) – with major processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
April 27, 2023
Date range

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

Velasco measures a country’s LGBT+ policy landscape with an original LGBT+ policy index that he created; the LGBT+ Policy Index captures the implementation of 18 different LGBT+ policies. Policies included in the index are limited to those adopted across at least three countries or are explicitly advocated for by transnational activists.

These policies are subdivided between:

Progressive policies: 1. Same-Sex Sexual Acts Legal 2. Equal Age of Consent 3. Employment Discrimination 4. Hate Crime Protections 5. Incitement to Hatred 6. Civil Unions 7. Marriage Equality 8. Joint Adoptions 9. Gender Marker Change 10. LGB Military 11. Transgender Military 12. Ban on Conversion Therapies 13. Ban on Gender Assignment Surgeries on Children

Regressive policies 1. Death Penalty for Same-Sex Sexual Acts 2. Propaganda Laws 3. Same-Sex Sexual Acts Ilegal 4. Unequal Age of Consent 5. Ban on Marriage Equality

These policies are not measured in a binary (adopted/not-adopted) scheme; the author follows Frank and colleagues (2010, 2017) in considering that similar policies can meaningfully vary in scope, benefits, punishment, etc. So, he determines the robustness of each policy by reviewing five indicators (between parentheses are the scoring schemes):

  1. Proportion of Population Living Under Law: To acknowledge subnational variations (0-1)
  2. Scope of Genders Subject to Law: As they can be typically differentiated by gender (0: no law, 0.5: just men or women, 1: both)
  3. Maximum Level of Punishment: For regressive policies (0: no law, 0.2: <3 years, 0.4: >3 years and <15 years, 0.6: >15 years and < life, 0.8: live in prison, 1: death penality)
  4. Ease of Access: To benefits the law outlines (0: no law, 0.25: significant barriers, 0.5: moderate barriers, 0.75: little to few barriers, 1: no barriers)
  5. Evidence of Enforcement: Has been least one case the previous year where this was implemented? (0: no evidence, 1: evidence)

While all five indicators may not be relevant to each policy, each policy in question uses at least three different indicators and with them, each policy score ranges from 0 to 1. Therefore, a score of 1 corresponds to that policy's most robust scope and implementation. This also means that changes in any indicators will influence each policy’s overall score. For example, a country having national marriage equality (indicator 1), few (if any) formal restrictions to obtaining a marriage license (indicator 4), and full implementation (indicator 5) will receive a score of 1.

To create the index, the scores for each policy are summed together annually, with progressive policies receiving a positive score and regressive policies receiving a negative. This results in an index ranging from -5 to +13. No country reaches these extremes, demonstrating that countries can get better and worse in their policy environments.

The LGBT+ policy index represents the most robust and nuanced measure of LGBT+ policy adoption and implementation to date and is a novel contribution to the literature. By incorporating progressive and regressive LGBT+ policies and variation in implementation beyond a binary coding scheme, this measure captures even fine-grained changes to the LGBT+ policy landscape. It better assesses the extent to which countries are or are not influenced by transnational processes.

Multiple sources were consulted to find the necessary data to construct this index. The primary data source was the State Sponsored Homophobia Reports produced by ILGA. These reports, produced almost annually, outline the adoption of various policies and provide some information on implementation. For information on trans- and intersex-specific policies and military information, other sources were used, including the Trans Legal Mapping Report, also produced by ILGA, reports and documentation provided by Transgender Europe, Movement Advancement Project, The Hague Center for Strategic Studies LGBT+ Military Index, and academic studies such as Reynolds (2013). Furthermore, multiple sources were used to obtain data on the evidence of enforcement – particularly arrests – including an extensive newspaper search across each country using LexisNexis and Factiva and other external reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.S. State Department.

Retrieved on
June 15, 2023
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
Velasco, K. (2020). Transnational Backlash and the Deinstitutionalization of Liberal Norms: LGBT+ Rights in a Contested World.

How we process data at Our World in Data

All data and visualizations on Our World in Data rely on data sourced from one or several original data providers. Preparing this original data involves several processing steps. Depending on the data, this can include standardizing country names and world region definitions, converting units, calculating derived indicators such as per capita measures, as well as adding or adapting metadata such as the name or the description given to an indicator.

At the link below you can find a detailed description of the structure of our data pipeline, including links to all the code used to prepare data across Our World in Data.

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Notes on our processing step for this indicator

We estimated regional aggregations by using Our World in Data definitions of regions and our consolidated population data.

From the original dataset, we combined data from three different indicators: marriage equality, ban on marriage equality and civil unions.

Reuse this work

  • All data produced by third-party providers and made available by Our World in Data are subject to the license terms from the original providers. Our work would not be possible without the data providers we rely on, so we ask you to always cite them appropriately (see below). This is crucial to allow data providers to continue doing their work, enhancing, maintaining and updating valuable data.
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How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Marriage for same-sex partners”, part of the following publication: Bastian Herre, Pablo Arriagada and Max Roser (2023) - “LGBT+ Rights”. Data adapted from Velasco. Retrieved from [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

Velasco (2020) – with major processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

Velasco (2020) – with major processing by Our World in Data. “Marriage for same-sex partners” [dataset]. Velasco, “LGBT+ policies (Kristopher Velasco)” [original data]. Retrieved July 19, 2024 from