Justice Luis Ramón Fábrega last October in his draft ruling wrote the provisions of Panama’s family code that prevent gays and lesbians from marrying in the country are not unconstitutional. Fábrega also suggested members of Panama’s National Assembly should consider “civil unions between people of the same sex.”
La Estrella, a Panamanian newspaper, reported Fábrega on Thursday asked the court to withdraw his ruling.
The Panama Supreme Court last year heard oral arguments in a case that would extend marriage rights for same-sex couples in the Central American country. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Jan. 9 issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights.
The Costa Rican government requested an advisory opinion on whether it has an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples and allow trans people to change their name and gender marker on identity documents. The government of Panama — which is among the countries that recognize the American Convention on Human Rights the Inter-American Court of Human Rights enforces — has signaled it will comply with the decision.
It remains unclear whether conservative justices on the Panama Supreme Court will argue the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ decision is not legally binding in the country.
Iván Chanis Barahona, president of Fundación Iguales, a Panamanian advocacy group, is a lawyer who is working pro bono on the Panamanian same-sex marriage case. He told the Washington Blade on Friday he welcomes Fábrega’s decision to withdraw his ruling.
“I want to see it as a very good sign of him realizing the (Inter-American Court of Human Rights) advisory opinion needs to be taken into consideration for the ruling,” said Chanis.