Extending the rights to marry and adopt to same-sex couples in France was one of President Francois Hollande's electoral pledges in campaigning last year. He is seen above during his installation ceremony May 15, 2012. Photo: P. Segrette/CNN

Same-Sex Marriage: Who Will Legalize It Next?

By Kyle Almond

(CNN) -

It's not just the United States grappling with the issue of same-sex marriage.

Many countries around the world are re-examining their laws, and some appear to be on the brink of changing them.

Senators in Uruguay approved a marriage equality bill April 2 that puts them on course to be the 12th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

And this week, senators in France will begin weighing a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The bill, which has the support of President Francois Hollande, has cleared the lower house of Parliament.

It "would be a major advance for our country in terms of equality of rights," said the French gay, lesbian and transgender rights group Inter-LGBT. "The law must allow all couples to unite themselves as they wish and must protect all families, without discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity."

But like the United States, France is far from united on the issue. In January, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Paris to protest same-sex marriage. Most of France is Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes the bill, along with social conservatives and other religious groups.

"I do not personally agree with gay marriage, as I am a Christian and believe what the Bible says about marriage being between one woman and one man for a lifetime," said CNN iReporter Oluwasegun Olowu-Davies, who shot video of the Paris march on his phone. "If your lifestyle doesn't allow you to conceive, there is a reason."

Across the English Channel, the United Kingdom is also considering legalization. In February, lawmakers in the House of Commons approved the second reading of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales. (Scotland has its own legalization bill in the works, while Northern Ireland rejected a similar measure in October.)

More debate and more votes are still necessary before the bill can become law, but the wide margin of February's vote -- 400-175 -- suggests that it may have the support it needs to eventually pass. Prime Minister David Cameron is also in favor of the bill, despite opposition within his own party.

"I am a great supporter of marriage," Cameron said in the House of Commons. "I want to promote marriage, defend marriage, encourage marriage.

"The great thing about (February's) vote is that two gay people who love each other will now be able to get married, and I think that is an important advance. I think we should be promoting marriage rather than looking at any other way of weakening it."

A former British colony, New Zealand, could legalize same-sex marriage this month. After a marriage equality bill passed two readings in Parliament -- the latest in March by a 77-44 margin -- the third and final vote is widely expected to be a formality.

The public, however, might be more split than its lawmakers. According to a survey conducted last month by the country's largest newspaper, the New Zealand Herald, opposition to same-sex marriage has increased to 48%. That sentiment is more in line with nearby Australia, where lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against a legalization bill in September.

In Uruguay, the bill approved April 2 by a 23-8 margin now goes back to lawmakers in the lower house of parliament. That house approved a different version of the bill in December.

In 2009, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. It was also one of the first Latin American countries to allow civil unions. Same-sex marriage is backed by President Jose Mujica and, according to one poll, the majority of the public.

But Argentina is the only country in Latin America that has legalized same-sex marriage, doing so in 2010. Brazil and Mexico, like the United States, have same-sex marriages only in certain states.

Of the 11 countries where same-sex marriage is legal, eight are in Europe. The Netherlands was the first, in 2001, and it was later joined by Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal and Denmark. Argentina, Canada and South Africa are the three non-European countries in the group.

There are no Asian countries where same-sex marriage is legal, but perhaps that might soon change.

Last year, a same-sex Buddhist couple married in Taiwan, where a legalization bill has been pending since 2003. Taipei is also home to Asia's largest annual gay pride parade, according to organizers.

The Supreme Court of Nepal ruled in favor of legalization in 2008, but those rights haven't been put into effect because the country's new constitution has been stuck in limbo for years.

In July, the Justice Ministry in Vietnam said it would consider a provision for same-sex marriage rights in an amendment to the country's marriage laws.

"It's time for us to look at the reality," Minister Ha Hung Cuong said in an online debate at the time. "The number of homosexuals has mounted to hundreds of thousands. It's not a small figure. ... They may own property. We, of course, have to handle these issues legally."

World Same Sex Marriage Census

Eleven countries have legalized same-sex marriage; the Netherlands was first in 2001. Several countries have pending legislation and may join that group soon.

France, New Zealand, Uruguay are among the leading candidates.

CNN's Alexis Lai, Catherine E. Shoichet, Laura Smith-Spark and Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+