My big gay wedding

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Hong Kong doesn’t recognise LGBT marriages (yet) but there are countries that do. James Bien suggests some top destinations where you can tie the same-sex knot

It’s been nothing but cheers, jeers and rainbow skies since the US Supreme Court handed a significant victory to gay rights advocates at the end of June. The court effectively recognised – for the first time – that married gay men and women are eligible for federal benefits and thus paved the way for, maybe, one day, same-sex marriage in every state. Okay, it may have fallen short of actually endorsing a fundamental and all-encompassing right for LGBT people to wed as it struck down a key part of the historically controversial Defense of Marriage Act but it’s a big step towards seeing more Ellens and Portias, and Eltons and Davids, over in the USA in the near future. And then the rest of the world could follow suit in this attitude – even Hong Kong…

There are 13 countries which have legalised same-sex marriage: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden. Uruguay and New Zealand are on their way to joining the list and select parts of Mexico and the USA currently allow gays to wed. While we wait patiently for Hong Kong to join this list, let’s take a look at the best spots to get LGBT hitched:

Destination: California, USA
Legalisation date: Jun 16, 2008
(As of Jun 27, 2013, the law can no longer be challenged)
Unlike Ellen and Portia, many Californian couples missed their chance to get married in the brief period between June and November 2008 due to the passage of Prop 8 – the heavily religious-funded proposition that rallied for marriage to remain between heterosexual couples only. Since the prop was recently overturned, though, gay couples can once again celebrate their love in classic Hollywood style. Get a pal to perform the ceremony and stage a massive wedding in front of the iconic Hollywood sign, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Getty Museum or the beaches of Malibu. California is one of 12 states that has legalised same-sex marriages.

Destination: The Netherlands
Legalisation date: Apr 1, 2001
Any prospective bride, groom and anything in between could use a break from the stress and anxiety that surrounds a wedding – so why not take a hit from the bong before hitting the altar? Apart from its liberal drug policies (which, by the way, have been a-changing if you’re a foreigner buying weed from a coffee shop, so check up on the law before you go…), the Netherlands is also famous for its impressive reputation as the first country to legalise gay marriage. It has been the go-to destination for gay couples worldwide since 2001 and continues to be a convenient avenue to marriage for those who reside in less LGBT-tolerant countries. Just remember to order a big wedding cake for the munchies!

Destination: France
Legalisation date: May 18, 2013
Of course gay marriage is legal in France, albeit only for just a couple of months so far. Just look at the average Frenchman’s impeccable taste in fashion, music and all things artsy. In fact, it’s surprising that President François Hollande only signed the law into action so recently. After all, France has long been deemed the most romantic country by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. With that said, it is with a sigh of relief for same-sex couples around the globe who can now realise their dream Parisian wedding (if they can afford it).

Destination: South Africa
Legalisation date: Nov 30, 2006
Safari weddings are adventurous, unique and no longer restricted to heterosexual couples. The pioneering couple Tshepo and Thoba Sithole-Modisane has set a trend for gay South Africans who want to celebrate their love in traditional Zulu style. Of course, gay couples are also encouraged to make use of the area’s diverse wildlife by staging a unique safari wedding.

Destination: Brazil
Legalisation date: May 14, 2013
Gays from Ipanema can go walking down the aisle thanks to a recent federal court ruling. While the Social Christian Party is still attempting to lodge an appeal against the ruling, same-sex couples in Brazil can currently celebrate their love with brash Carnival festivities or smooth bossa nova stylings. If we’re lucky, we will soon see fashion mogul Marc Jacobs tie the knot with his Brazilian porn beau Harry Louis on the famed Ipanema Beach – one of their favourite vacation spots.

Destination: New Zealand
Legalisation date: Aug 19, 2013
Same-sex marriage is not available in New Zealand just yet, but the bill legalising it was passed in April. Fashion designer, LGBT rights activist and overall cool kid Annah Stretton is already planning a catwalk wedding at New Zealand Fashion Week in September for a lucky same-sex female Australian couple in the hope of pressuring its neighbouring country into providing the basic human right too. Her work is also a reminder that despite recent successes, much still has to be done to ensure equal
rights for all. 

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