Tag Archive | "gay marriage"

Costa Rica: Congress ‘Accidentally’ Legalises Gay Marriage

Laura Chinchilla (photo: Wikipedia)

Laura Chinchilla (photo: Wikipedia)

Lawmakers in Costa Rica ‘accidentally’ approved a bill that may technically legalise same sex unions in the country.

The President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla signed a bill that changed a key article of the “Law of Young People,” which covers various social services for young people and laws governing marriage. Article 22, which regulates domestic partnerships, had previously specified that unions were recognised between a man and a woman.

However, José María Villalta, a leftist lawmaker from San José, changed some language in the bill to include “the right to recognition without discrimination contrary to human dignity.” Villalta is a member of the leftist Broad Front Party.

The lawmakers apparently approved the reform without reading it fully. After realising the implications, conservative lawmakers immediately called for President Chinchilla to veto the bill.

Yet Chinchilla says she will not veto it, telling reporters “we’re going to go forward and will sign this law. We understand that the debate is over how some interpret the law and this alone is not sufficient for the executive to veto the law,” adding that the only members of government equipped to interpret the law are the judges and lawmakers.

Conservative politician, Justo Orozco, a member of the evangelical National Renovation Party, spoke out strongly against it, stating, “That preference is not a right. It’s a stunted development of sexual identity. It can change like alcoholism, tobacco addiction.”

Despite the outrage, Villalta claimed that, “During the discussion in the first debate, we explained that the Law of Young People should be interpreted with this sense of opening to gays and no one objected.”

Marco Castillo, president of the Diversity Movement, was reportedly very optimistic about the bills passage, but warns that for civil unions to survive, the bill would have to hold up in court under a constitutional challenge. Nevertheless, “It is a big step forward for gay rights in Costa Rica,” he said.

In 2011, Chinchilla said that although she is personally in favor of traditional marriage, she would not oppose gay marriage if the courts allowed it.

A poll in that same year found that 73% of Costa Ricans opposed same-sex marriage.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Brazil: Court Decision Approves Gay Marriage

Brazil's coat of arms. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Brazil’s coat of arms. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

While the Brazilian congress continues to delay discussion of gay marriage legislation, the justice system made a decision yesterday, 14th May, determining that same-sex couples cannot be denied marriage licenses.

Although Congress is still debating the issue, the judicial decision makes gay marriage legal by outlawing denial of licenses to same-sex couples.

The National Justice Council (CNJ), a panel that oversees the country’s justice system, approved the measure yesterday with a vote of 14-1. The resolution states, “it is prohibited for the related authorities to reject the authorisation or celebration of civil marriage or the conversion of a civil union to marriage of people of the same sex.” It also indicates that authorities that fail to recognise the court order would be penalised.

Yesterday’s CNJ announcement is the first major decision regarding the subject since the Supreme Court approved civil unions of same-sex couples in 2011. Since that date some gay and lesbian couples have received marriage licenses, although others have only been able to attain civil union recognition, based on the discretion of individual notaries. Now, denial of this documentation based on the sexual orientation will be illegal.

Upon hearing yesterday’s decision, Carlos Magno Fonseca, President of the Brazilian Association of LGBT People (ABLGBT) stated: “This is a great step–a victory, because it is advancing something that many civil notaries have failed to recognise. We are living in a moment of celebration”.

With yesterday’s decision, Brazil became the world’s fifteenth country to permit gay marriage on a national scale. This aligns the country with its neighbours Uruguay, which legalised gay marriage last month, and Argentina, which made the decision in 2010. However, Brazil’s legalisation is not complete as it stands, and detailed legislation still warrants congressional approval.

Brazil is the world’s most populated Catholic country and home to an estimated 60,000 same-sex couples. Religious and conservative members of Congress have consistently rejected same-sex marriage legalisation, and opponents could challenge the CNJ decision in the Supreme Court.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Colombia: Senate Rejects Gay Marriage Proposal

Capitolio Nacional de Colombia

National Capitol building of Colombia, home to Congress by Ministerio TIC Colombia, on Flickr

The Colombian Senate shot down a project attempting to legalise gay marriage by a vote of 51 to 17 on Wednesday. The legalisation of gay marriage can now only be enacted by judges and notaries.

“The Congress is so foolish, and sometimes so stupid, that it ends up removing the rights of legislating so that the Court can continue to legislate, because the Court does know the constitutional principles. Congress appears to only know the principles of the Roman Catholic Church,” said Senator Armando Benedetti, a supporter of the proposed measure. He added that it would have been better for the project to be approved in Congress instead of by judges.

This comes on the heels of France approving gay marriage earlier this week, following New Zealand and Uruguay’s recent bills in favor. However, outside Uruguay, Argentina is the only other South American country to successfully pass a gay marriage proposition.

In 2010, the issue was first discussed in Colombia when lawyers created a proposal demanding the Civil Code be altered, as it only recognised marriage between heterosexual couples. In 2011, the court left the issue in the hands of the Colombian Congress because of issues with the lawyers’ proposal. The court has, however, said that Congress should make a change in the current Civil Code before 20th June, but this latest setback makes the meeting of that deadline look less likely.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Uruguay: Same-Sex Marriage Legalised

Uruguay has become only the second Latin American country to legalise gay marriage.

Gay marriage advocates (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Gay marriage advocates (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

71 out of 92 members of parliament voted in favour of gay marriage after pressure from homosexual rights organisations, many of whom were present in the courtroom when the bill was given the green light. Civil unions have been allowed since 2008.

“Tomorrow we will have a fairer, more equal society with more rights for all,” said Sebastián Sabini, deputy of la coalición oficialista Frente Amplio (FA).

The bill states that “civil marriage is the permanent union, pursuant of the law, of two people of different or the same sex”. The Catholic Church has severely questioned the new law, which was originally approved in December 2012 by the Chamber of Deputies in a vote of 81-6, before recently being ratified by the Senate with some minor amendments on 2nd April in a 23-8 vote.

The new bill is made up of 29 articles and states that homosexual unions have the same rights as couples formed by a man and woman. Following the approval, Uruguay now joins Argentina as the only two countries in Latin America where same sex couples can legally get married.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in much of Europe including Spain, Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium. Mexico City, the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, and the Brazilian state of Alagoas also allow gay marriage.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (1)

Uruguay: Senate Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill


The Uruguayan Senate voted yesterday, 2nd April, to pass a bill legalising marriage between couples of the same sex.

After seven hours of debate, the bill won unanimous approval by senators of the Frente Amplio (FA) party and partial endorsement by those of the opposition parties, Partido Nacional and Partido Colorado. The legislation passed with a total of 23 to 8 votes in the Congressional upper house.

The legislation recognises marriage between homosexual couples by defining how the state constitutes marriage. The law states, “Civil matrimony is the permanent union, arranged under law, of two people of different or the same sex.” The bill also includes modifications of the country’s Civil Code to equalise the marital status of same-sex couples with that of heterosexuals, by replacing the words “man” and “woman” with “spouse”, for example.

The same-sex marriage proposal will now be returned to the Lower House for approval, and if it passes, will then be signed into law by President José Mujica, who has indicated support for the bill.

The Catholic Church has announced its disapproval of the Senate’s decision, stating that the measure devalues the institution of marriage. Senator Monica Xavier responded to these claims stating that the bill does not, in fact, diminish the sanctity of marriage nor have to do with religion at all, stating, “Here we are speaking about ‘rights,’ with capital letters. Rights that were denied and repressed for a long time, and which a society that is trying to be modern and inclusive necessarily must recognise, to advance in equality.”

Since 2007 Uruguay has begun approving more rights for homosexual people, including legalising enlistment in the armed forces and allowing for same-sex civil unions. In 2009 Uruguay became the first country in the region to allow for homosexual couples to adopt children.

If the lower chamber of Congress approves the bill, Uruguay will become the 12th country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the second in Latin America, after Argentina did so in 2010.

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Uruguay to Vote on Same Sex Marriage in December

Uruguay has announced that the Chamber of Deputies will vote on the legalization of same sex marriage on 11 December.

Five months ago, the government approved the recognition of same sex marriage legalized in other countries. The law was supported by the Constitution Committee and the Codes of the House including two opposition legislators.

Frente Amplio legislator Julio Bango, a supporter of the law, said the law would pass the Senate in 2013 after the summer recess. He noted the dispute about name order for children of same sex marriages but said that issue would be resolved in the next week.

The law reads, “the institution of marriage will mean the union of two parties, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation thereof at the same terms with the same effects established in the Civil Code”. The law will extend to include homosexuals, lesbians and transsexuals.

In 2007 Uruguay became the first Latin American country to legalize same sex civil unions.

In 2009, Uruguay passed the Law of Gender Identity and Name Change Registry that states “everyone has the right to free development of their personality according to their own gender identity, regardless of their biological, genetic, anatomical, morphological, hormonal or other sexual assignment”.

Uruguay has passed several other liberal laws such as legalization of abortion and the sale of government-owned marijuana.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (9)

Could Argentina Become A Gay Marriage Mecca?

Sergio López and Simon Cazal had their wedding reception in Rosario last Friday. Unlike most Latin American weddings, there were no suits or fancy dresses. Instead, the married couple and their guests sported jeans and t-shirts.

Sergio López and Simon Cazal speak to supporters (Photo: Allendria Brunjes)

In lieu of a big dinner and giant cake, simple empanadas and mini-sandwiches were handed out on trays. And the drink-in-hand speeches focused not just on the couple’s happiness – but on the historic weight of the day.

“I just wanted to say, that lots of things have happened so that you can get married,” one woman said to the crowd of supporters. “And it also means a lot, to activists and people who aren’t here today.”

Thanks to a recent change in Santa Fe’s interpretation of federal laws, people can now get married in the province without holding residency or citizenship. And because of that change, last Friday Cazal and López – both from Paraguay – became the first same-sex foreigners to get married in Argentina.

The Law

Through most of Argentina, people have to fulfill residency or citizenship requirements in order to marry. As such, if a couple wants to tie the knot, they have to live in one spot for months before they can. A few weeks ago, Santa Fe’s left-leaning government resolved to change their interpretation of federal legislation, making the province the first in the country to allow people to marry after only 96 hours within their borders. This province argues that a residency requirement for marriage is unconstitutional.

Photo: Courtesy of Matrimonio para Todo el Mundo

While the new interpretation is not particularly significant for heterosexual couples – most foreigners can get married in their own country without problems – the move has big implications for same-sex couples.

Argentina legalised same-sex marriages on 21st July 2010, with a law that stated any two people could marry regardless of gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Now, this perfect union of policy and law makes Santa Fe the only place in the world besides Canada where two foreigners of the same sex can get married soon after arrival.

The Effects

Argentina’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Federation president Esteban Paulón said the decision is important in many respects. He said at the top of that list is the fact that Santa Fe is sharing its rights with all the people of the world. “Here, we have equal marriages for same-sex couples – anyone who wants to get married is welcome,” he said.

Kurt Michael Hall and Fredd Zimmerman run the Buenos Aires Out & About Gay Pub Crawl. Hall is from the United States; Zimmerman is from Spain. While the two have spent years in Argentina and have been partners for a long time, neither is a citizen nor permanent resident. Because of the new law, the pair now have the option of getting married in Argentina.

It may be a while before the two get hitched – if at all – but they both said it is wonderful that the option is there for all people in same-sex relationships. Hall also said there are no borders to love, whether in regards to sex, race or nationality. “These are boundaries that people draw, that people make up,” he said. “The lines of the earth are the lines of society. When it comes to marriage, none of those lines should exist.”

The Economics

The monumental change will also affect the business community, especially those businesses that focus on a LGBT clientele.

Sergio López and Simon Cazal on their wedding day (Photo: courtesy of Simon Cazal)

Laetitia Orsetti runs Fabulous Weddings in Buenos Aires, a wedding planning company that focuses on gay and other “fabulous” marriages. “It’s the best news I could ever hear,” she said when she found out about the new legal interpretation. “Argentina is really becoming the mecca of gay tourism in South America.”

As the organiser of the world’s first same-sex wedding fashion show last year, Orsetti’s eyes lit up when the gravity of the decision set in. Within minutes, wedding and honeymoon options for foreigners were rolling out of her mind. Visiting wine country in Mendoza. Laying on the beach in Uruguay. “The options are endless,” she said. “I think this is going to increase tourism and the economy of Argentina. It’s going to be beneficial for everyone.”

As the first Latin American country to allow same-sex unions and the only one to allow full marriages, she noted that providing gay tourists access to marriages gives Argentina another foot-up on other countries in the region. “It shows that it’s much more involved an open-minded,” she said. “There are ten countries in the world [with legal same-sex marriage] and Argentina will be the cheapest. And look at the country – it’s amazing.”

The Problems

In a Canadian court room this past January, an initially low-key decision almost changed the legal status of thousands of foreigners who took advantage of Canada’s lax marriage laws.

Two women – one from England and the other from the US– who married in Canada in 2005, tried to get a divorce. They were unable to do it in their own countries, as the marriage was not recognised in either place, and so they returned to Canada. At first, reports in the media said the government lawyer argued the two could not get a divorce because they were not legally married. The country’s laws stated that in order to get a divorce, foreigners have to live within Canada for a year, and the marriage has to be recognised in their home countries. After uproar from citizens and extensive coverage in the media, the Canadian government announced it would change its divorce laws related to foreigners, and ensured that all marriages that happened within its borders would remain legal.

“People will get married here in Argentina, and eventually we will have to see if they ask for [a divorce],” Paulón said. “If there is a violation of rights or something in their countries, we will work to resolve it.”

He noted as an example that there have been legal steps to right the wrongs of the past with regards to same-sex marriage. He pointed out that when Argentina legalised it, they also retroactively recognised the weddings people had in places like Canada and Spain before 2010. “There are distinct situations,” Paulón noted.

The Next Steps

With a big grin on his face, Cazal expressed how he was feeling at the reception. “I’m tired,” he said, putting his arm around López. And because Paraguay, the couple’s home, does not recognise same-sex marriages, their work has just begun. They said when they return, they will work to make their union legal in their home country.

The couple actively campaign for gay rights (Photo courtesy of Simon Cazal)

“The fight will continue,” López said at his wedding reception. “This is the launching point. We are counting on the support of everybody here. Here things have changed. We need to break the borders and soon the limits will disappear.”

Paulón said this union is just the first step to getting same-sex marriages recognised throughout Latin America. “[The Argentine marriage equality law] contributes to the advancement of similar laws in other countries,” he said.

To get there, he said the next big step is to change the way people think about same-sex marriage. “It’s time for different days – it’s time for debate, convincing, policies and visibility,” he said. “One thing is legal equality. It’s another to make social change.”

To see what Argentines think about foreign same-sex couples getting married in the country, click here.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Argentina, TOP STORYComments (1)

Should same-sex marriage between tourists be permitted in Argentina?

Since July of 2010, same-sex marriage has been granted legal status in Argentina, but should this progressive stance be extended to gay and lesbian tourist couples passing through the country to get married? Already, Buenos Aires is well known as a top destination for gay tourists, and in Santa Fe province, restrictions have been eased to facilitate such marriages within less than a week’s residency.

Last week, two Paraguayan citizens, Simón Cazal and Sergio Lopez, became the first foreign homosexual couple to get married in Argentina.

We caught up with several locals to gather thoughts about gay foreigners travelling to Argentina to tie the knot. Is public opinion on the subject as progressive as many of the country’s laws governing marriage and reproductive rights?

Guillermo Engardo Franco, 41, painter, Almirante Brown 

I am heterosexual, and I don’t agree with homosexual marriage. I have been walking the streets for almost ten years and I don`t see that society is prone to accept this. Obviously I think there should be a traditional family compound of a women and a man. Therefore I am against all that. Honestly, as heterosexual, I think it is a very complicated issue,  and I believe many meetings should be gathered with suitable professionals to talk about this matter.


Santiago Díaz, 20, student, Almagro 

Regarding the subject of foreign people coming here to work and marry, I agree that in Buenos Aires this should be allowed. But if in Rosario they can just stay for a couple of days and then get married, I don`t share that, but I know it is a good thing too. Anyhow, I am more okay with same-sex marriage than with homosexual adoption.



Liliana Sonensein, 49, storekeeper, Villa Crespo

I think everyone is entitled to be happy in their own way, and that must be respected. I have no objections of any kind; we all have the right to be happy the way we want. Each person must find their own way of making their dreams come true in any aspects of their lives, within homosexuality or within business. It’s perfectly valid.



Silvia Trabucco, 50, market researcher, Palermo

I don`t have any issues with people coming to Argentina to get married. I believe in freedom of expression and homosexual marriage, I am totally supportive.




Daniel Caitan, 39, book store employee, Caballito

I think that if there is love and everybody agrees, it’s great. Let’s just say that sometimes Argentine society is not ready to see this whole male and female manifesto, we are not completely open-minded. It is going to take a very important process, but there are many couples who have already gotten married. And in many parts of Latin America, they are nowhere even close to beginning talks about the issue of homosexual marriage. Here, the discussion has moved forward and that advantage must be put into use. If there is love involved, even better.

Lucia Barravino, 18, student, Quilmes 

I am in favor of homosexual marriage and I don`t see any trouble with foreign people coming to marry here after staying for a couple of days. I think this should be done all over the country and all over the world.




Photos by Lillo Montalto Monella

Posted in Current Affairs, OpinionComments Off on Should same-sex marriage between tourists be permitted in Argentina?

First Gay Foreign Tourists Tie the Knot in Rosario

For the first time in South American history, a foreign gay couple will get married today in Rosario, province of Santa Fe.
Simón Cazal and Sergio Lopez, two Paraguayan citizens, will be the first homosexual foreigners to tie the knot in Latin America.

The Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA) is celebrating this union as an inclusion of foreign people into the “exercise of a constitutional and human right.”

Cazal and Lopez, leaders of the Paraguayan organization SomosGay (WeAreGay), worked with the local LGBT Argentine Federation to make this marriage possible. 

They decided to get married in Rosario after the Socialist municipality passed a resolution ordering civil servants to accept marriage requests coming from all foreigners and tourists. To be granted the right to get married in Santa Fe people have to stay for at least four days. In Buenos Aires, foreign gay couples have to wait at least for three months to get a work/study visa that would allow them to get married.

After the honeymoon, the couple is travelling back to Paraguay where they will ask for the official recognition of their marital status.

“One of the options for us was [to get married in] Spain,” told Simón Cazal to a journalist. “Sergio lived there for a while and part of his family still lives in Tarragona, he could have applied for citizenship there. But when heard about marriage here, so close, literally across the river, we got very excited and we opted [for Argentina]. It was available, it was real.”

Cesar Cigliutti, president of the CHA, wrote in an official statement that “the marriage of Simon and Sergio is also an act of defiance against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“We are proud that Argentina is the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to pass the Equal Marriage, and also the first one to include foreign partners in the exercise of constitutional and human rights.”

The marriage took place today at 11am at the Civil Register in Calle Wheelwright 1486, Rosario.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

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