Ecuador’s highest court on Friday heard oral arguments in a case that could extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the South American country.
Judges on Ecuador’s Constitutional Court considered the case of Efraín Soria and his partner, Javier Benalcázar, a gay couple from the country’s capital of Quito who tried to apply for a marriage license last May.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January 2018 issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and other rights in the Western Hemisphere. A court in Ecuador’s Pichincha province in which Quito is located asked the Constitutional Court to rule in the couple’s case.
Danilo Manzano Navas, director of Diálogo Diverso, which is also based in the Ecuadorian capital, was among the activists who were outside the Constitutional Court on Friday during oral arguments in the case that could set a legal precedent for LGBTI rights in the country. Fundación Pakta, a Quito-based advocacy group, on its Facebook page noted Ecuador is the first country in Latin America “to discuss in the courts” how to implement the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling.
Ecuador’s 2008 constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but it also contains an amendment that allows gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions.
Fundación Pakta Executive Director Christian Paula told the Washington Blade last September during an interview at his Quito office there is “a recognition” of same-sex couples in the country. He noted, however, Ecuadorian law does not allow them to adopt children.
“The only problem that exists is the issue of children,” said Paula. “Adoption is prohibited for same-sex couples.”
The Constitutional Court in May 2018 ordered Ecuador’s Civil Registry to register a lesbian couple’s daughter with both of their last names. The landmark ruling also said the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling from earlier that year was binding in Ecuador.
The Constitutional Court is scheduled to issue its ruling in Soria and Benalcázar’s case in 20 days.