A court has unleashed a same-sex marriage flood in Latin America

John Gallagher · Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Last January, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a marriage-equality ruling that effectively brought marriage equality to 20 Latin American countries in a single swoop .The catch was that the countries have to change their laws themselves.
Now that process is well underway, with a lot of bright spots and the occasional expected backlash. Here’s a rundown of how some countries are dealing with the movement toward change.
Panama. Although Panama had said that it would comply with the Inter-American court ruling, a Supreme Court judge had drafted a ruling last October againt marriage equality in an unrelated case. But the judge has since withdrawn the ruling, a sign that the Panamanian judiciary is not going to challenge the Inter-American ruling as merely advisory. That hasn’t stopped religious conservatives from organizing against the change. A coalition of religious groups is planning a demonstration to protest changes to the “original design” of the family.
Chile. As a result of last fall’s elections, a majority of Chile’s Congress will be in support of a marriage bill when the new session convenes next week. Apokesperson for incoming president Sebastián Piñera has said that the new adminstration will not prioritize passage of a marriage equality law, leaving it in the hands of the lawmakers. Even before the Janauary Inter-American Court ruling, Chile was required to legalize marriage equality as a result of a separate settlement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Costa Rica. Although the Inter-American Court ruling in January came as the result of a case in Costa Rica, the country continues to drag its feet on implementing the ruling. Backlash to the ruling has buoyed the campaign of Fabricio Alvarado Munoz, an evangelical minister adamantly opposed to marriage equality, who is locked in a close race for the presidency. In addition, a series of cases are pending before the state’s highest court, four of them filed since the January ruling. Should Munoz win, he seems likely to defy the Intra-American Court decision.
Ecuador. Same-sex couples in this country have had legal recognition of their relationship since 2014, but not as marriage.  A marriage equality case is has been pending for years before the Constitutional Court, leading activists to pressure the president to make marriage equality legal immediately. 
Paraguay. Paraguay is generally conservative, with widespread LGBT discrimination. Last fall, the Education Minister banned books about sexual diversity from the classroom and even offered to burn them. Still, activists maintain that there is no constitutional reason why marriage equality can’t be legalized. A gay activist group has filed two new lawsuits to force the issue.
Peru. The president of the Supreme Court of Justice is on record as saying that “all parties are called to respect” the Intra-American Court ruling. A leading LGBT activist, Óscar Ugarteche, has filed a lawsuit to have his Mexican marriage to Fidel Aroche recognized. The couple succeeded in a lower court. In addition, a bill legalizing marriage equality is awaiting action in Congress.
Venezuala. Two separate lawsuits are wending their ways through the court system, and activists are hopeful that both will succeed.”2018 looks to be a year with favorable judicial decisions on our … cases for the rights of LGBTI people,” the rights group Venezuela Igualitaria said.

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