By Anna Pujol-Mazzini
LONDON, March 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A law allowing same-sex couples to wed went into effect in Finland on Wednesday, bringing Helsinki into line with its Nordic neighbours as it became the 24th nation to legalise gay marriage.
The law, passed in 2014 by the previous parliament, will end the distinction between same-sex unions and heterosexual marriages, giving gay couples equal rights to adopt children and share a surname.
Finland had been the only country in the Nordic region not to recognise same-sex marriage, although gay couples have been able to enter into registered partnerships since 2002.
Here are the facts about same-sex marriage around the world:
* Same-sex marriage is legal in 24 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, United States.
* In some of these countries, such as Mexico and Britain, marriage is only open to same-sex couples in some regions. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed.
* The first country to legalise same-sex marriage was the Netherlands in 2001.
* In 2017 so far, same-sex marriage laws came into force in Finland and Slovenia. But gay activists say more remains to be done in Slovenia, where same-sex couples are denied the right to adopt children and excluded from artificial insemination.
* In Africa, where homosexuality is a crime in many countries and can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty, South Africa alone has granted the same access to gay couples. Same-sex marriage legislation came into force there in 2006.
* There are no countries in Asia that allow same-sex couples to marry, or enter civil unions of any kind.
* Almost one in three adults globally believe people of the same sex should be allowed to marry, a survey of almost 100,000 people in 65 countries showed in 2016.
SOURCES: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Reuters, Thomson Reuters Foundation
(Reporting by Anna Pujol-Mazzini @annapmzn, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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