March 7, 2013 at 12:34 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Mexican Supreme Court rules anti-gay slurs are not protected speech

Oaxaca, gay marriage, marriage equality, same sex marriage, Mexico

Lawyer Alex Ali Mendez Diaz represented three same-sex couples from the Mexican state of Oaxaca whom local authorities denied marriage licenses. (Photo courtesy of Alex Ali Mendez Diaz)

Mexican Supreme Court justices on Tuesday announced a ruling that found anti-gay slurs are not protected speech under the country’s constitution.

Justice Minister Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea requested the justices for the first time in Mexican legal history decide what the court described in a press release that announced its decision as “the complex problem between freedom of expression and discriminatory manifestations – specifically homophobic expressions.”

The justices in their 3-2 ruling concluded the words “maricones” and “puñal” two newspaper reporters from the state of Puebla used to criticize each others work are offensive and discriminatory.

“It was determined that the expressions ‘maricones’ and ‘puñal’ as they were used in this present case were not found to be protected under the Constitution,” it reads.

The Mexico City-based National Council to Prevent Discrimination described the court’s decision as a “substantive advance in the fight against homophobia in Mexico.”

The ruling comes less than two months after the European Court of Human Rights found religious beliefs cannot justify discrimination against same-sex couples.

The Mexican Supreme Court last month formally released its decision that found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Three couples tried to apply for marriage licenses in the state, but their applications were denied. They then sought legal recourse known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system that would ensure local authorities would protect their constitutional rights.

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, a lawyer who represents them, told the Washington Blade earlier this week the first of the three Oaxacan couples plan to marry later this month.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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