Fourteen countries, of which the latest is France, allow people of the same sex to marry, with most also legalising gay adoption.
France's first official gay wedding was to take place Wednesday in the southern city of Montpellier eleven days after a law authorising gay marriages came into force.
Here is a breakdown of nations with similar laws on the books:
- NETHERLANDS: On April 1, 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, with the same rights as heterosexuals. Includes the right to adopt.
- BELGIUM: Homosexual couples in Belgium have almost the same rights as heterosexuals. They won the right to marry in 2003 and in 2006 parliament voted into law a bill allowing homosexual couples to adopt children.
- SPAIN: In 2005 Spain became the third member of the European Union to pass a law allowing same-sex marriages. Gay couples can adopt children, whether they are married or not.
- CANADA: Canada adopted a national law allowing gays to marry and adopt in July 2005, though most provinces had already allowed same-sex unions before that date.
- SOUTH AFRICA: The country legalised same-sex unions and adoptions by gay couples in November 2006, becoming the first African nation to do so.
- NORWAY: A 2009 law allowed homosexuals to marry and adopt children. Civil partnerships have existed in the country for 20 years.
- SWEDEN: Sweden's homosexuals have been allowed to wed in religious or civil ceremonies since May 2009.
- PORTUGAL: Under a 2010 law Portugal legalised gay marriage, while excluding the right to adoption.
- ICELAND: Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir married her long-time partner in June 2010 as a new law legalising homosexual marriages came into force. Same-sex couples who have lived together for at least five years have had the right to adopt children since 2006.
- ARGENTINA: Gays in Argentina became the first on the South American continent to be able to wed and adopt, after legislation passed on July 14, 2010.
- DENMARK: Denmark, the first country in the world to allow gay couples to enter into civil unions in 1989, voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing homosexuals to marry in the state Evangelical Lutheran Church in June 2012.
- URUGUAY: Uruguay voted in April to allow same-sex marriages nationwide, making it only the second Latin American country to do so.
- NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand on April 17 became the first Asia-Pacific country to legalise same-sex marriage, after a decades-long campaign.
- FRANCE - A law authorising marriages between people of the same sex came into force on May 18, 2013, after four months of battles in parliament and demonstrations.