LUXEMBOURG – With a vote on Wednesday of 56-4, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has become the eleventh European Union member state and the seventeenth country in the world to create legal “gay marriage.” The law, which will come into effect in 2015, also includes the right of same-sex partners to adopt children.

“With this law, we do not throw overboard all the values of our society,” Green MP Viviane Loschetter said in a statement. “All we have done is give equal rights to gay people. We formally recognize a form of relationship that has always existed.”

The tiny EU nation, where 87 per cent of citizens register as Catholics, decriminalized homosexual acts in 1794 while it was under French jurisdiction, and gave legal recognition to same-sex “partenariats” in 2004.

Three of the four MPs who voted against the bill were members of the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR), a party that represents both social conservatives and the small anti-federalist, EU-skeptic constituency in the country.

Gaston Gibéryen, Fernand Kartheiser, and Roy Reding are the entire caucus of the party. As the duchy’s fifth largest political party, the ADR opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide and has also campaigned against the various attempts to extend the EU’s powers over the country’s constitution.

With the creation of the same-sex “marriage” law, Luxembourg joins Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, the UK in England and Wales, and Uruguay, as well as various jurisdictions in Mexico and the US.

The Republic of Ireland passed a bill recognizing same-sex civil unions in 2010 and is expecting a referendum to change the constitution to allow “gay marriage” in 2015. Malta recognized same-sex unions in April. Iceland, which has suspended its application to join the EU, has had “gay marriage” since 2010, and has allowed adoption, surrogacy, and IVF for same-sex partners since 2006.

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Switzerland, also not an EU member, has had registered same-sex partnerships since 2007 and a bill introducing same-sex “marriage” was put forward in December 2013. Last week, Italy’s recently elected Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, announced that his government would bring forward a same-sex civil partnership bill for debate in September.

The map of European acceptance of same-sex partnerings in various legal forms can now be almost perfectly divided between east and west, with all the formerly Catholic countries of south western Europe and the formerly Protestant countries of northern Europe, including all of Scandinavia, having created same-sex “marriage” or civil partnerships. Many Eastern European countries, however, have fought same-sex unions. These include Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine, all of which define marriage in their constitutions as being only between a man and a woman.