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"LGBT rights in European Union
""EU Globe No Borders.svg
European Union
"Same-sex sexual activity legal? Never criminalised in EU law.
Last state criminalisation repealed in 1998.
"Military service Allowed to serve openly in every state except Cyprus.
"Discrimination protections Outlawed in employment with further protections in some member states' law
Family rights
"Recognition of
Same-sex marriage in 10/28 states
Recognition of same-sex unions in 22/28 states
No recognition of same-sex couples in 6/28 states
Same-sex marriage constitutional ban in 6/28 states.
"Adoption Joint adoption in 13/28 states
Step-child adoption in 18/28 states

LGBT rights in the European Union are protected under the "European Union's (EU) "treaties and "law. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in all "EU states and discrimination in employment has been banned since 2000. However EU states have different laws when it comes to any greater protection, "same-sex civil union, "same-sex marriage and "adoption by same-sex couples.


Treaty protections[edit]

The "Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union makes in Articles 10 and 19 provisions for combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. These provisions were enacted by the "Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999.[1][2]

Furthermore, Article 21 of the "Charter of Fundamental Rights asserts that "any discrimination based on any ground such as [...] sexual orientation shall be prohibited." The Charter was agreed in 2000 and became legally binding in 2009.[1][2][3]

Legislative protection[edit]

LGBT rights in the European Union

Following the inclusion of the Treaty of Amsterdam's abovementioned provisions, the "directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation was enacted in 2000. This "framework directive compelled all EU states to adopt, within three years, anti-discrimination legislation in employment. That legislation had to include provisions to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[2]

In practice, this protects EU citizens from being refused a job, or from being fired, because of their sexual orientation. It also protects them from being harassed by a colleague due to their sexual orientation. It does not cover being refused medical services or treatment, refusal of being given a double room in a hotel, protection from bullying in a school and refusal of social security schemes (e.g. survivors’ pensions and financial assistance to carers). Protection under EU law in these circumstances is however granted on the grounds of race or gender.[4]

Proposed directive[edit]

A proposed European "anti-discrimination law would outlaw discrimination in the areas of social protection, social advantages, education and access to supply of goods, on the basis of religious belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation.[5] However the directive has been stalled in the "Council, despite strong support from the "European Parliament.[6]

Transgender rights[edit]

EU law currently takes a different approach to transgender issues. Despite the European Parliament adopting a resolution on transsexuals’ rights as early as 1989, transgender identity is not incorporated into any EU funding and was not mentioned in the law establishing the "European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) as sexual orientation was. However, the "case law of the "European Court of Justice provides some protection by interpreting discrimination on the basis of 'sex' to also refer to people who have had '"gender reassignment'. Thus all EU sex discrimination law applies to transgender people.[2] In 2002, the "1976 equal treatment directive was revised to include discrimination based on "gender identity.[7]

Other actions[edit]

Between 2001 and 2006, a Community Action Programme to Combat Discrimination involved the expenditure of €100 million to fight discrimination in a number of areas, including sexual orientation.[7]

In 2009 the "European Commission has acted to tone down a law in Lithuania that included homophobic language and also aimed to support the "gay pride parade in the country and others under threat of banning.[2]

Foreign relations[edit]

In June 2010, the "Council of the European Union adopted a non-binding toolkit to promote LGBT people's human rights.[8][9]

In June 2013, the Council upgraded it to binding LGBTI Guidelines instructing EU diplomats around the world "to defend the human rights of LGBTI people.[10][11]

Same-sex unions[edit]

Same-sex marriage has been legalised in "Belgium, "Denmark, "Finland, "France, "Germany, "Ireland, "Luxembourg, "Malta, the "Netherlands, "Portugal, "Spain, "Sweden and "Great Britain. Same-sex civil unions have been legalised in "Austria, Belgium, "Croatia, "Cyprus, "Czechia, "Estonia, Finland, France, "Greece, "Hungary, Ireland, "Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, "Slovenia and the United Kingdom. In Denmark and Sweden civil unions were legal from 1989 and 1995 to 2012 and 2009, respectively. In Germany, registered life partnerships were legal between 2001 and 2017. However existing civil unions/registered life partnerships are still recognised in all of these countries.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have constitutionally defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

European Union law requires those member states that legalised same-sex partnerships to recognise each other's partnerships for the purpose of freedom of movement.[12] The European Parliament has however approved a report calling for mutual recognition.[13][14]

According to "EU Court of Justice case law based on the "Employment Equality Framework Directive, employees in a civil partnership with a same-sex partner must be granted the same benefits as those granted to their colleagues upon their marriage, where marriage is not possible for same-sex couples. The Court established this principle in 2008 in the case of Tadao Maruko v. Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen with regards to a German "registered life partnership. In December 2013, the Court confirmed this in the case of Frédéric Hay v. Crédit agricole mutuel (C-267/12) with regards to a French "civil solidarity pact, which is significantly inferior to marriage than a German registered life partnership.[15][16]

Member State laws on sexual orientation[edit]

For detail, see: "LGBT rights in Europe#Legislation by country or territory

Openly gay people are "allowed to serve in the military of every country except Cyprus["citation needed], however this is contrary to European law and is rarely enforced.

Since December 2016, "Malta became the "first and only country in the EU - as well as in Europe - to ban conversion therapy.[17][18][19]


LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
"European Union European Union ""Yes Legal in all 28 member states.[2] ""Yes/""No Legal in 22/28 member states.
""Yes/""No Legal in 13/28 member states.
""Yes/""No Joint adoption legal in 14/28 member states.
Step-child adoption legal in 18/28 member states.
""Yes/""No Legal in 27/28 member states.
""Yes/""No Membership requires a state to ban anti-gay discrimination in employment only. ""Yes Legal in 26/28 member states.[4]

Member States[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
"Austria "Austria ""Yes Legal since 1971[20]
+ UN decl. sign.
""Yes Registered partnership since 2010[21] ""No [22] ""Yes Step-child adoption since 2013.
Joint adoption since 2016.[23][24]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[25]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Gender change is legal.[27]
"Belgium "Belgium ""Yes Legal nationwide since 1975
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Legal cohabitation since 2000[28] ""Yes Legal since 2003[29][30][31] ""Yes Legal since 2006[32]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[33]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Since 2017, name changes does not require sex changes and (legal and physical) sex changes does not require sterilisation[34].
"Bulgaria "Bulgaria ""Yes Legal since 1968
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""No ""No Constitutionally banned since 1991[35] ""No LGBT individuals may adopt.[36] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Forbids discrimination based on gender identity, but requires sterilisation for change[37][38]
"Croatia "Croatia ""Yes Legal since 1977 (As part of "Yugoslavia)
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Life partnership since 2014[39] ""No Constitutionally banned since "the 2013 referendum.[40] ""Yes/""No Partner-guardianship since 2014 (parental responsibility and a permanent next-of-kins relationship between a life partner and their partner's child which is registered in the child's birth certificate) ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26][41] ""Yes Act on the elimination of discrimination bans all types discrimination based on both gender identity and gender expression. Gender change is regulated by special policy issued by Ministry of Health.[42]
"Cyprus "Cyprus ""Yes Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Civil cohabitation since 2015[43] ""No ""No ""No (The only EU country to ban LGBT people in the military, not enforced)[44] ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Forbids discrimination based on gender identity.[45]

""No Gender change is not legal.

"Czech Republic "Czech Republic ""Yes Legal since 1962 (As part of "Czechoslovakia)
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered partnership since 2006[46] ""No ""No (Step-child adoption pending)[47] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Legal recognition is granted and birth certificate is amended["not in citation given] after reassignment surgery (with mandatory sterilisation).[48]
"Denmark "Denmark ""Yes Legal since 1933
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered partnership from 1989 to 2012 (Existing partnerships are still recognised.)[49] ""Yes Legal since 2012[50][51] ""Yes Step-child adoption since 1999.
Joint adoption since 2010.[52]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[53]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Legal gender change and recognition possible without surgery or hormone therapy.[54]
"Estonia "Estonia ""Yes Legal since 1992
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Cohabitation agreement since 2016[55] ""Yes/""No Marriage performed abroad recognized since 2016[56] ""Yes/""No Step-child adoption since 2016. Couples where both partners are infertile may also jointly adopt non-biological children since 2016 ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Gender reassignment legal.[48]
"Finland "Finland
"Åland Islands(includes "Åland Islands)
""Yes Legal since 1971
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered partnership from 2002 to 2017 (Existing partnerships are still recognised.)[57] ""Yes Legal since 2017[58] ""Yes Step-child adoption since 2009.
Joint adoption since 2017.
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Legal change and recognition is possible only with "sterilisation.[59]
"France "France ""Yes Legal nationwide since 1791
Legal in "Savoy since 1792
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Civil solidarity pact since 1999[60] ""Yes Legal since 2013[61] ""Yes Legal since 2013[62] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Since 2017, sex changes no longer requires sterilisation.[63]
"Germany "Germany ""Yes Legal in "East Germany since 1968
Legal in "West Berlin and "West Germany since 1969
+ UN decl. sign.[20][64]
""Yes Registered life partnership from 2001 to 2017. (Existing partnerships are still recognised)[65] ""Yes Legal since 2017.[66] ""Yes Step-child adoption since 2005.
Successive adoption since 2013.
Joint adoption since 2017.[66]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[67][68] ""Yes Gender change is legal.[69]
"Greece "Greece ""Yes Legal since 1951 + UN decl. sign.[20] ""Yes Cohabitation agreement since 2015[70] ""No ""No ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Sterilisation is not required for the legal change of gender since 2016 court ruling[71]
"Hungary "Hungary ""Yes Legal since 1962
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered partnership since 2009[72] ""No [73][74]
Constitutionally banned since 2012.[75][76]
""No LGBT individuals may adopt; (Joint and step-child adoption pending)[74] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""No No legal recognition.[48]
"Republic of Ireland "Ireland ""Yes Male legal since 1993
Female always legal
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Civil partnership from 2011 to 2015. (Existing partnerships are still recognised.)[77] ""Yes Legal since 2015 after a "constitutional referendum.[78] ""Yes Joint adoption since 2016. Stepchild adoption is not legal for any couples, but a birth parent and their partner may be eligible to be joint adopters of the child.[79][80][81][82]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[83]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[84][85][86] ""Yes Gender Recognition Act 2015 [87]
"Italy "Italy ""Yes Legal since 1890
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Civil union since 2016[88][89] ""Yes/""No(Pending) [90][91][92][93][94] ""Yes/""No Stepchild adoption admitted by the "Court of Cassation[95][96].

The Florence Court for Minors has recognised a foreign joint adoption by a gay couple[97]

""Yes ""Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Since 1982 legal recognition and documents can be amended to the recognised gender.[98] The Court of Cassation decided in 2015 that sterilisation is not required.[99]
"Latvia "Latvia ""Yes Legal since 1992
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""No ""No Constitutionally banned since 2006[100] ""No LGBT individuals may adopt.[101] ""Yes ""Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Documents are amended accordingly, no medical intervention required.[102]
"Lithuania "Lithuania ""Yes Legal since 1993
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""No (Cohabitation agreement pending)[103] ""No Constitutionally banned since 1992[104] ""No Only married couples can adopt.[105] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Gender change is legal since 2003.[106]
"Luxembourg "Luxembourg ""Yes Legal since 1795
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered Partnership since 2004[107] ""Yes Legal since 2015[108][109] ""Yes Legal since 2015[110] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[111] ""Yes (Requires sterilisation for change[48])
"Malta "Malta ""Yes Legal since 1973
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Civil union since 2014[112] ""Yes Legal since 2017 ""Yes Legal since 2014 ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Since 2015.[113]
"Netherlands "Netherlands ""Yes Legal since 1811
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered partnership since 1998[114] ""Yes Legal since 2001[115] ""Yes Legal since 2001[116]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[117]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[118] ""Yes[119]
"Poland "Poland ""Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""No[120] ""No Constitutionally banned since 1997.[121] ""No LGBT individuals may adopt, joint adoption forbidden.[122] ""Yes ""Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes
"Portugal "Portugal ""Yes Legal since 1983
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes "De facto union since 2001[123][124] ""Yes Legal since 2010[125] ""Yes Legal since 2016 (+automatic co-parent recognition)[126][127][128] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination.[26] ""Yes Since 2011. All documents can be amended to the recognised gender.[129]
"Romania "Romania ""Yes Legal since 1996
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""No ""No ""No LGBT individuals may adopt.[130] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Legal recognition and birth certificates amended["not in citation given] after reassignment surgery (sterilisation mandatory)[48]
"Slovakia "Slovakia ""Yes Legal since 1962 (As part of "Czechoslovakia)
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""No ""No Constitutionally banned since 2014[131] ""No LGBT individuals may adopt.[132] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[133][134] ""Yes (Requires sterilisation for change[48])
"Slovenia "Slovenia ""Yes Legal since 1977 (As part of "Yugoslavia)
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered partnership since 2006[135];
Unregistered cohabitation since 2017[136]
""No ""Yes/""No Step-child adoption since 2011[137] ""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Gender change is legal.[138]
"Spain "Spain ""Yes Legal since 1979
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes De facto union in "Catalonia (1998),[139] "Aragon (1999),[139] "Navarre (2000),[139] "Castile-La Mancha (2000),[139] "Valencia (2001),[140] the "Balearic Islands (2001),[141] "Madrid (2001),[139] "Asturias (2002),[142] "Castile and León (2002),[143] "Andalusia (2002),[139] the "Canary Islands (2003),[139] "Extremadura (2003),[139] "Basque Country (2003),[139] "Cantabria (2005),[144] "Galicia (2008)[145] and "La Rioja (2010)[146] ""Yes Legal since 2005[147] ""Yes Legal since 2005[148]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[149]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes Since 2007, all documents can be amended to the recognised gender[150]
"Sweden "Sweden ""Yes Legal since 1944
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Registered partnership from 1995 to 2009 (Existing partnerships are still recognised.)[151] ""Yes Legal since 2009[152] ""Yes Legal since 2003[153]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[154]
""Yes [155] ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[26] ""Yes[156]
"United Kingdom "United Kingdom
"Gibraltar(includes "Gibraltar)
""Yes Male legal in "England and "Wales since 1967, in "Scotland since 1981, in "Northern Ireland since 1982, and in "Gibraltar since 1993.
Female always legal
+ UN decl. sign.[20]
""Yes Civil partnership since 2005, in Gibraltar since 2012[157] ""Yes Legal in England, Wales and Scotland since 2014, in Gibraltar since 2016.[158][159]
""No Not performed in Northern Ireland
""Yes Legal in England and Wales since 2005, in Scotland since 2009, in Northern Ireland since 2013, and in Gibraltar since 2014[160][161]
(+automatic co-parent recognition)[162]
""Yes ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[163][20]
""Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination in Gibraltar
""Yes "Gender Recognition Act 2004
""No Not legal in Gibraltar

Due to the "Cyprus dispute placing "Northern Cyprus outside the Republic of Cyprus' control, EU law is suspended in the area governed by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
"Northern Cyprus "Northern Cyprus ""Yes Legal since 2014[164][165][20] ""No ""No ""No ""No ""Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[164][165] ""Yes Discrimination or hate speech banned since 2014.[164][165]

""Emblem-question.svg Unknown if gender change is legal.

Public opinion[edit]

Below is the share of respondents per country who agreed with the following statements in the 2015 Special Eurobarometer on discrimination.[166] The last column is the change from the 2006 Eurobarometer where respondents were presented the slightly different statement "Homosexual marriages should be allowed throughout Europe".[167]

Member state "Gay and lesbian people
should have the same rights
as heterosexual people"
"There is nothing wrong
in a sexual relationship between
two persons of the same sex"
"Same sex marriages should be
allowed throughout Europe"
Change from 2006
on last statement
 "European Union 71% 67% 61% +17
 "Austria 70% 67% 62% +13
 "Belgium 81% 82% 77% +15
 "Bulgaria 51% 27% 17% +2
 "Croatia 48% 39% 37% n/a[168]
 "Cyprus 62% 40% 37% +23
 "Czech Republic 62% 60% 57% +5
 "Denmark 90% 88% 87% +18
 "Estonia 44% 40% 31% +10
 "Finland 74% 71% 66% +21
 "France 81% 83% 71% +23
 "Germany 70% 74% 66% +14
 "Greece 62% 42% 33% +18
 "Hungary 49% 44% 39% +21
 "Ireland 87% 82% 80% +39
 "Italy 72% 61% 55% +24
 "Latvia 42% 23% 19% +7
 "Lithuania 44% 30% 24% +7
 "Luxembourg 75% 80% 75% +17
 "Malta 77% 71% 65% +47
 "Netherlands 96% 91% 91% +9
 "Poland 37% 37% 28% +11
 "Portugal 71% 59% 61% +32
 "Romania 36% 24% 21% +10
 "Slovakia 36% 33% 24% +5
 "Slovenia 54% 55% 54% +23
 "Spain 90% 87% 84% +28
 "Sweden 95% 93% 90% +19
 "United Kingdom 84% 75% 71% +25

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, European Union 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e f Perspective: what has the EU done for LGBT rights?, Café Babel 17/05/10 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Babel" defined multiple times with different content (see the "help page).
  4. ^ a b "ILGA-Europe". Retrieved 29 June 2015.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "current" defined multiple times with different content (see the "help page).
  5. ^ Why ILGA-Europe supports the proposed Anti-Discrimination Directive Archived 5 June 2012 at the "Wayback Machine., ILGA-Europe
  6. ^ European Parliament renews call for anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people, LGBTQ Nation
  7. ^ a b "ILGA-Europe". Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
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  9. ^ "Toolkit to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People" (PDF). Council of the European Union. 17 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "EU foreign affairs ministers adopt ground-breaking global LGBTI policy". The "European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights. 24 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) persons" (PDF). Council of the European Union. 24 June 2013. 
  12. ^ DIRECTIVE 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely
  13. ^ Report on civil law, commercial law, family law and private international law aspects of the Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme, European Parliament
  14. ^ EU-Wide Recognition of Member States’ Gay Marriage, Civil Partnership a Step Closer, WGLB
  15. ^ "Same-sex civil partners cannot be denied employment benefits reserved to marriage". "ILGA-Europe. 13 December 2013. 
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  17. ^ Benjamin, Butterworth. "Malta just became the first country in Europe to ban 'gay cure' therapy". "Pink News. Archived from the original on 6 December 2016. 
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  19. ^ Henley, Jon (7 December 2016). "Malta becomes first European country to ban 'gay cure' therapy". "The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 December 2016. 
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  22. ^ (in German) Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, Änderung
  23. ^ "Bundesgesetz, mit dem das Allgemeine Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch und das Bundesgesetz über die eingetragene Partnerschaft geändert wird" (PDF). (in German). 
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  32. ^
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  34. ^ (in French) (in Dutch) Loi du 25 juin 2017 réformant des régimes relatifs aux personnes transgenres en ce qui concerne la mention d’une modification de du sexe dans les actes de l’état civil et ses effets/Wet van 25 juni 2017 tot hervorming van regelingen inzake transgenders wat de vermelding van een aanpassing van de registratie van het geslacht in de akten van de burgerlijke stand en de gevolgen hiervan betreft
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  36. ^
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  52. ^ (in Danish) Lov om ændring af lov om registreret partnerskab, lov om en børnefamilieydelse og lov om børnetilskud og forskudsvis udbetaling af børnebidrag
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  58. ^ "Finland president signs gay marriage law – couples will have to wait to get married until 2017". Gay Star News. 
  59. ^ (in Finnish) Ihmisoikeudet kuuluvat myös transsukupuolisille
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  68. ^
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External links[edit]

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