October 10, 2013 at 11:49 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Marriage efforts in Latin America advance amid resistance

Caludia Zea, Elizabeth Castillo, Gachetá, Colombia, gay news, Washington Blade

Caludia Zea and Elizabeth Castillo married in Gachetá, Colombia, on September 25. (Photo by Paola Zuluaga)

Colombia has become the latest Latin American country in which same-sex couples have been able to marry.

A civil judge in Bogotá, the Colombian capital, on September 20 married Julio Albeiro Cantor Borbón and William Alberto Castro Franco. Elizabeth Castillo and Claudia Zea tied the knot five days later in a ceremony in Gachetá in the province of Cundinamarca that Judge Julio González officiated.

Another Bogotá judge on October 4 married Adriana Elizabeth González and Sandra Marcela Rojas.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled gays and lesbians could seek legal recognition of their relationships within two years if lawmakers in the South American country did not extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage.

The Colombian Senate in April overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have extended marriage rights to gays and lesbians. And the Constitutional Court’s June 20 deadline passed amid lingering confusion as to whether same-sex couples could actually marry in the country.

Many notaries have said they will allow gays and lesbians to enter into a “solemn contact” as opposed to a civil marriage.

A Bogotá judge in July solemnized Carlos Hernando Rivera Ramírez and Gonzalo Ruiz Giraldo’s relationship. Marcela Sánchez, executive director of Colombia Diversa, an LGBT advocacy group, and other activists maintain the two men and other same-sex couples whose relationships have been formally recognized are legally married.

“I am not doing any type of favor; it is not important that I may be sympathetic to the LGBTI movement or that I am from a liberal political group,” Julio González told the Colombian newspaper El Espectador after he married Castillo and Zea. “These things cannot dictate whether a judge acts according to the law and the Constitution.”

A Bogotá judge on October 2 annulled Cantor and Castro’s marriage after a group opposed to nuptials for gays and lesbians challenged it in court. The organization has said it plans to file suit against Julio González and other judges who have officiated same-sex marriages.

Out Bogotá City Councilwoman Angélica Lozano on September 30 also filed a complaint against Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, who vehemently opposes nuptials for gays and lesbians, for ordering notaries to report any same-sex couple who seeks a marriage licenses to his office.

“I am legally denouncing the inspector general for abuse of power, arbitrary acts and injustices against homosexuals,” Lozano tweeted after she filed her complaint.

Mexican, Chilean advocates push for marriage

Argentina and Uruguay are among the 14 countries in which gays and lesbians can legally marry.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice in May ruled registrars in the South American country cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. São Paulo and other Brazilian states had already extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, but the country’s lawmakers have yet to pass a nationwide gay nuptials bill.

The Mexican Supreme Court in February unveiled its decision that found a law in the state of Oaxaca that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Mexico City since 2010, and the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that states must recognize these unions.

A gay couple in Mérida on the Yucatán Peninsula exchanged vows in August after a federal judge said they could tie the knot. Judges in the states of Chihuahua and México in recent months have also ruled in favor of same-sex couples seeking marriage rights.

Gays and lesbians in Jalisco, in which the resort city of Puerto Vallarta is located, and other Mexican states have also begun to petition local authorities to allow them to marry.

Chilean LGBT rights advocates continue to pressure President Sebastián Piñera to allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in July gave the country’s government a two month deadline to respond to a same-sex marriage lawsuit the group Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) filed in 2012.

Movilh said in an October 3 press release that two members of Piñera’s cabinet with whom it met assured them the government has already begun the “process of internal consultations” to respond to its lawsuit.

More than 40 Chilean lawmakers on October 8 urged Piñera to make a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions a priority before he leaves office early next year.

Former President Michelle Bachelet, who is the frontrunner to succeed Piñera in the country’s presidential elections that will take place on November 17, earlier this year publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“More than two million people live together in Chile and they find a lack of this law socially and judicially indefensible,” the letter to Piñera reads. “They remind you that your presidential platform clearly referenced these topics.”

Civil unions bill introduced in Perú

Peruvian Congressman Carlos Bruce last month introduced a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. It would extend economic benefits to them, but not adoption rights.

Victor Cortez and his boyfriend, Antonio Capurro, formed the group Plural Perú to help build support for the civil unions measure and expanded LGBT rights in the country. The two activists told the Washington Blade during an interview from the Peruvian capital of Lima on Tuesday the bill faces an uphill battle before lawmakers consider it in March.

A recent poll found 65 percent of Peruvians oppose any efforts to allow same-sex couples to enter into a civil union. Lima Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani and Evangelicals are among those who frequently speak out against gays and lesbians and any proposal to legally recognize their relationships.

Cortez told the Blade he feels machismo and conservative attitudes within Peruvian society will continue to hamper efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“These types of unions go against these values,” he said. “For them this is very unacceptable.”

Antonio Capurro, Peru, LGBT rights, gay news, Washington Blade

Peruvian LGBT rights activist Antonio Capurro holds a sign that reads “And where are our rights? We are also citizens.” (Photo courtesy of Antonio Capurro)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Just a quick comment that Brazil is one of the 15 countries with nationwide equal marriage. Saying that Argentina and Uruguay have equal marriage, while Brazil has yet to pass a law to that effect, muddies the water. The Brazilian Supreme Court's ruling in May 2013 made equal marriage legal in all states of the country.

  • the equiv of their supreme court ruled that they can marry but the court is not allowed to absolutely over rule other jurisdictions

    a few mos ago 14 of 28 brazilian states had marriage equality , it seems to be more an implementation issue. EG in states here that have marriage equality they do not simply pass a law that states that all references to marriage are to allow SSM, because in general most state lawmakers do not read much of the bills before them in the legislature andd it would be easy for the bad people to slip in one line in an unrelated bill nullifying marrige

    As for Columbia the situration is complicate d- their senate tks for sure to rome overwhelmingly defeated the marriage law but their supreme court seems to operate like that of brazils and also here have been civil unions. Time will tell

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