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In photos: France, gay marriage and 13 other countries that have legalized it

After a historic vote on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, France became the 14th country to legalize same-sex marriage. Here is a look at how the legalization of gay marriage has happened around the world since the Netherlands became the first country to do so 12 years ago.

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After a wrenching debate, France's lower house of parliament approved a law that legalised gay marriage and gave gay and lesbian couples adoption rights on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. That made France the 14th country in the world to allow same sex marriage, following New Zealand and Uruguay, two countries that approved national legislation earlier this month. In this photo, demonstrators face riot police on the sideline of a Paris rally on April 21 to protest against French President Francois Hollande's social reform on gay marriage and adoption.

Michel Euler/The Associated Press

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It has been 12 years since the Netherlands became the first country in the world to allow marriage rights to gay couples. In Amsterdam on April 1, 2001, four couples became the world's first same-sex pairs to wed legally, minutes after a Dutch law allowing same-sex matrimony came into effect. They were, from left to right, Peter Lemke, Frank Wittebrood, Ton Jansen, Louis Rogmans, Helene Faasen, Anne-Marie Thus, Dolf Pasker and Geert Kasteel.

Michael Kooren/Reuters

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Holland was followed by Belgium in 2003 and Spain on July 11, 2005. Days later, Canada - where same-sex marriage had already been permitted in most provinces since 2003 - became the forth country to introduce national legislation. Here, Michael Hendricks, left, and Rene Leboeuf hug after getting married in a Montreal courtroom on April 1, 2004. They were the first gay couple in Quebec to tie the knot since a recent decision by the province’s highest court to allow same-sex marriages.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

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South Africa came next in 2006, and remains the only African nation to allow same-sex marriage. Shown is an aerial view of Cape Town.


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After Sweden in 2009 came three more countries in 2010: Portugal, Iceland and Argentina. Divorced mothers Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao became the first gay couple to marry in Portugal, in June 2010. The socialist government in the mainly Catholic country faced fierce opposition from campaigners who ultimately failed to get enough support for a referendum. Later that month, Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir (shown here on a visit to China in April 2013) married her partner, writer Jonina Leosdottir, on the day the country's gay marriage law came into force.

Jason Lee/Reuters

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Argentina was the only country in Latin America to allow gay marriage until Uruguay followed suit in April, 2013. The region is predominantly Catholic. Argentina is also home to Pope Jorge Bergoglio, shown here when he was still Cardinal, giving a mass outside San Cayetano church in Buenos Aires, on Friday Aug.7, 2009. Bergoglio publicly led the charge against the measure in Argentina, but reportedly supported a compromise – civil unions for gay couples – behind the scenes.

Natacha Pisarenko/The Associated Press

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New Zealand became the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage. Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand's Parliament today after lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill. They included Jills Angus Burney, left, and Deborah Hambly, who arrived at New Zealand's Parliament to watch the vote on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

Nick Perry/AP

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Several countries remain on the brink, including Britain. Here, campaigners demonstrate for a "yes" vote to allow gay marriage, as they protest outside the Palace of Westminster in London February 5, 2013. British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to see his ruling Conservative party split over his government's plans to legalise gay marriage, a move critics say is not a priority for the public and unnecessarily divisive.

Luke MacGregor/Reuters

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When President Francois Hollande promised to legalize gay marriage in France, it was seen as relatively uncontroversial. The issue has since rejuvenated the country’s conservative movement and brought together the far right, the Catholic Church and many French families from the countryside. In recent weeks, violent attacks against gay couples have spiked and some legislators have received threats — including one who got a gunpowder-filled envelope. One protest against gay marriage ended with some demonstrators fighting police and damaging cars along the Champs-Élysées avenue. Here, an opponent of gay marriage holds a French flag as he takes part in the Manif pour tous (Demonstration for All) protest march against France's planned legalisation of same-sex marriage in Paris, April 21, 2013.

Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

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Ten years ago, same-sex marriage was legal nowhere in the United States. It's now allowed in nine states, with several more in the pipeline, yet many other states seem unlikely to follow suit unless forced to by Congress or the Supreme Court. It seems like a recipe for long-term conflict, but U.S. President Barack Obama and other Democratic Party leaders are now firmly ensconced in the ranks of gay-marriage supporters, and national opinion polls suggest that's now the prevailing view among the public. In this photo taken Wednesday, March 27, 2013, demonstrators holding flags chants in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.

Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press

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Here, Corianton Hale and his partner Keith Bacon leave Seattle City Hall a happily married couple December 9, 2012. They were among more than 140 couples who were married at City Hall following legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington state.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

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