Five out of nine judges in Ecuador’s top court voted in favour of allowing two gay couples to get married after they sued the state following the denial of their request to be married by Ecuador’s civil registry.
Ecuador became the 27th country in the world to allow same-sex marriage. The latest victory for LGBT rights comes during gay pride month, which takes place every June to mark the Stonewall Riots, which took place in June 1969 in New York and became a watershed moment for the LGBT movement.
The church is very influential in the Latin American nation and fought hard against the change in the law.
The Life and Family Movement, a right-wing Christian group led much of the opposition to it. They argued that the laws surrounding marriage were already determined from the 2008 constitution, which granted civil unions to same-sex couples but that any further changes required an act of parliament or a referendum.
“The vast majority of the Ecuadorian people, through a referendum, approved a constitution that … reserved marriage for heterosexual, male/female couples,” Carlos Arsenio Larco, a lawyer for the group, told local TV channel El Comercio.
But Diane Rodriguez president of the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBTI Organizations and the first trans woman elected to Ecuador’s National Assembly said that the ruling would result in future progress on human rights issues.
“After a fight of almost 20 years, gay marriage has been achieved. It gives us a guiding light for many other proposals on human rights,” she told Reuters.
The decision in Ecuador comes after a ruling of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, which said countries should give same-sex couples the right to marry. Based in Costa Rica, the court provides the human rights protection system for the Organization of American States (OAS).
Global Victories for Gay Rights
Earlier this week, Botswana decriminalised homosexuality and Bhutan’s lower house voted to repeal a similar law.
“The victories we’ve witnessed in the last couple of weeks will improve the lives of millions of LGBT+ people around the world. We’re witnessing an important moment in history as these victories will send out positive shockwaves across the world and inspire more activists to continue their fight for LGBT+ rights,” Mathias Wasik, director of programs at international LGBT rights group All Out, told Reuters.
But significant challenges remain and there are still 68 countries where same-sex relations are still illegal. In May, Kenya’s high court upheld a ban on gay sex, which carries a 14-year jail sentence.
Even in Europe where many countries have legalised same-sex marriages, there has been a recent backlash by the far right with the Law and Justice Party in Poland and the Vox Party in Spain challenging acceptance of LGBT rights. In other countries, in what were formally part of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, such as Latvia, Poland and Serbia no kind of same-sex union is recognised.
While in Brazil, the new right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has said that he would rather his son died in an accident than come home with a male partner.
“Whenever there’s progress, there’s always steps backwards,” Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher in the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.