Countries under their jurisdiction were told to start recognizing same-sex unions. The push for same-sex marriage goes directly against the growing opposition from the Catholic church. The decision to expand this right in Latin American came just days before Pope Francis visited Peru and Chile.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is a governing body representing 23 countries in the Americas, including Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
Now, the same country behind the petition for increased LGBTQ+ rights is arguing over the power hierarchy. The victim is the country’s first same-sex marriage since the decision. According to NewNowNext, Roberth Castillo and Mario Arias planned to get married but hit a roadblock when a notary council refused to register their marriage. The council referenced a national law that banned same-sex marriage. The president of Costa Rica ordered government agencies to follow the ruling while Costa Rican lawmakers changed the law to allow for same-sex marriage.
“There’s nothing stopping the road to equality, but the truth is we don’t know how long it will take to get there,” the couple’s attorney Larissa Arroyo said, according to Reuters.
The couple has postponed their wedding as they wait for the Costa Rican government to make a decision.
“The Superior Notary Council’s agreement not only contradicts the opinion, but also the position of the Executive Power regarding the ruling,” Costa Rica Justice Minister Marco Feoli said in a statement.
Honduras already has one of the world’s strictest bans on abortion. It’s completely banned in all circumstances, including even in cases of rape and incest, and when the person’s life and the health are in danger. The country also has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, including recognizing those that were performed abroad.
So, why is the country moving to further limit access to abortion and marriage equality?
The Honduran Congress has voted to make it impossible to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage.
In the first round of voting, the country’s congress had voted to move forward on complete and total constitutional bans against abortion and marriage equality. But lawmakers are taking it a step further, by increasing the votes needed to undo their constitutional amendments in the future.
One lawmaker referred to the legislation as a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.
However, the amendments require a second reading/vote and activists across the country (and world) are mobilizing to help stop these amendments from being voted in. But they face an uphill battle, as the legislation has overwhelming support within Congress and from the country’s staunchly conservative president.
Honduras already has among the world’s strictest bans on abortion.
Abortion in Honduras is already illegal in all circumstances. The country’s criminal code imposes prison sentences of up to six years on people who undergo abortions and medical professionals who provide them. The government also bans emergency contraception, or “the morning after pill,” which can prevent pregnancy after rape, unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure.
“Honduras’ draconian legislation already bans abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, when the person’s life and the health are in danger, and when the fetus will not survive outside the womb,” said Ximena Casas, Americas women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This decree will make it virtually impossible to carry out the recommendations from multiple international human rights bodies to end this violation of reproductive rights.”
Honduras also already has a strict ban on same-sex marriage.
The 2005 constitutional amendment prohibits recognizing marriage between people of the same sex, including same-sex marriages contracted in other countries. Honduras also bans adoption by same-sex couples.
“By seeking to permanently and comprehensively block any possibility of accessing marriage for same-sex couples, the Honduran Congress is entrenching state-sponsored homophobia,” said Cristian González Cabrera, Americas lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Congress is also making it harder for future lawmakers to undo their constitutional amendments.
Not only was it not enough to double down on these draconian bans on abortion and marriage equality, lawmakers are moving to increase the threshold of votes to undo their bans.
Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body. The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favor, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.
Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.
Many see the constitutional amendment as a response to Argentina’s move to legalize abortion last month.
It was just last month that Argentina voted in favor of legalizing access to abortion. The South American nation became the largest Latin American country to allow abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favor to 29 against, with one abstention.
For years, abortion has also been illegal in Argentina. The procedure was illegal except in cases where the mother or baby’s lives were in danger. In 2019, the country passed a law that also included rape victims as exceptions.
The push towards various kinds of gender rights–including abortion rights–has been central to President Alberto Fernández’s administration. The center-left politician campaigned on a platform that emphasized the rights of women, gay, and trans communities since he was elected in 2019. Even throughout the devastation of the pandemic, Fernández has insisted on keeping his promises towards marginalized communities.
LGBTQ Bolivians are celebrating the news of a gay couple who have been together for 11 years and just now had their relationship legally recognized by the government.
After a two year legal battle, the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled that Bolivia’s registró civilmust recognize the couple’s relationship and afford them the same rights that opposite-sex couples have.
Many are hoping that this court ruling from the nation’s highest court will lead to additional changes for the country’s LGBTQ community and finally bring marriage equality to one of the few remaining countries in South America that don’t already recognize same-sex marriage.
A gay couple has become the first same-sex couple to get legally married in Bolivia.
After a protracted legal fight, David Aruquipa, a 48-year-old businessman, and Guido Montaño, a 45-year-old lawyer, were able to marry one another thanks to a court ruling in their favor.
Although the country’s constitution still defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, many are seeing this legal ruling as a victory for Bolivia’s LGBTQ community, not to mention the newlywed couple.
Aruquipa and Montaño’s legal battle kicked off in 2018 when the Bolivian civil registry refused to recognize their union, arguing that the country did not allow same-sex marriages.
Bolivia’s constitutional court ruled in July that the civil registry must recognize their relationship as a free union. The court also ruled that the country’s constitution must be interpreted in a way that lines up with human rights and equality standards. Referencing a 2017 opinion published by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the constitutional court ruled that all rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples should be given to same-sex couples.
And although this court ruling didn’t legalize same-sex marriage in Bolivia, it’s a major step forward towards reforming the country’s marriage laws.
David and Guido have been together for more than 11 years and hope their marriage brings hope to the LGBTQ community.
Aruquipa and Montaño have been together for more than 11 years, with two of those years being involved in this complicated legal battle. So, it was a major win for the couple to be able to finally see their union recognized by the government.
Following the court’s ruling in July, José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Gay and lesbian couples are an integral part of Bolivia’s social fabric and deserve to be recognized by the state and its institutions.”
At a press conference following their marriage, Arequipa said of their marriage that “It is an initial step, but what inspires us is [the goal] of transforming the law.” He added that “All civil registries in Bolivia should stop treating us like second class citizens and start recognizing our unions.”
“It is an initial step, but what inspires us is [the goal] of transforming the law,” Aruquipa said at a press conference.
Despite religious pushback, Latin America has gradually come to accept same-sex marriage.
Despite considerable opposition from religious groups, gay marriage has become increasingly accepted in Latin America. In fact, same-sex couples were legally able to marry in Argentina (2010), Brazil and Uruguay (2013) before they were accepted in the United States (2015).
Colombia and Ecuador were ahead of the curve, having de facto recognition of same-sex couples since 2007 and 2009 respectively. Meanwhile, parts of Mexico have been accepting same-sex marriage since 2010.
In January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the American Convention on Human Rights recognizes same-sex marriage as a human right. This has made the legalization of such unions mandatory in the following countries: Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Suriname.
However, public opinion and treatment of the LGBTQ community remains complicated. Paraguay and Bolivia still maintain constitutional bans on same-sex marriage but people’s attitudes can be even more challenging. Violence against same-sex couples and transgendered people are still major issues that affect the LGBTQ community across Latin America.