Another marriage suit on its way to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

It’s looking increasingly likely that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is going to have to decide whether same-sex couples’ right to marry is protected by international law.

Activists in Costa Rica have announced that they’ll start the process of suing their government after a civil union bill was blocked by conservative members of the country’s legislature. Their suit would join one filed earlier this year by three couples in Chile. And the Mexican lawyer who successfully sued on behalf of three couples from Oaxaca, Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, told me earlier this month that he’s also preparing to go to the Inter-American Court to broaden the ruling to allow same-sex couples to marry across Mexico.

Though the United States does not recognize the authority of the Inter-American Court (big surprise), most Latin American countries do. If the court were to rule that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the American Convention on Human Rights, it could lead to equal marriage rights across the region. Continue reading

Uruguayan Senate postpones marriage vote til April

The Uruguayan Senate was supposed to give final ratification to the country’s Equal Marriage Bill Wednesday afternoon. But then the chamber unanimously agreed to postpone the vote until April, according to UltimaHora.com.

This is a surprise since the law overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. But it sounds like opposition senators are mounting a fierce counteroffensive, accusing the ruling Frente Amplio party of “authoritarianism” for accelerating the timetable for passage.

Catholic Church divides on civil unions—theology or strategy?

The leadership of Costa Rica’s Catholic Church put out a statement this week opposing civil union legislation now being debated in the country’s legislature.

The opposition to such legislation wouldn’t be surprising, except that Catholic hierarchy in some other Latin American countries have given the OK to civil unions, even endorsing the argument that same-sex couples deserve some level of legal protection.

Is this a theological difference, or a political one?

Take this statement last month from Uruguayan Bishop Jaime Fuentes, who handles family issues for the church hierarchy in his country. Continue reading

Brazilian state of São Paulo to legalize same-sex marriage

Within 60 days, same-sex couples in Brazil’s São Paulo state will be able to legally marry simply by going to a notary. That’s thanks to a new rule issued yesterday by the state judiciary.

The legal status of same-sex unions in Brazil has been a little confusing. The country’s top court recently ruled that same-sex couples have the same domestic partnership rights as heterosexual couples. Couples that have registered their domestic partnerships have since successfully gone to court to “convert” these unions into marriages.

The new rule means same-sex couples can skip the court phase in order to marry. It is also another major boost for the same-sex marriage movement in Latin America. Forty-one million people live in São Paulo state, making it the most populous state in the largest country in Latin America. It also has a population several times larger than Uruguay, which is on the cusp of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Poll: Uruguayans favor same-sex marriage by 20 points

The latest poll from Uruguay, whose lower house just approved an equal marriage bill by an overwhelming majority, shows the electorate is also heavily in favor of the legislation.

A poll released yesterday by the paper El Pais found 53 percent in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages, while only 32 percent are opposed.

And much of this opposition comes from people over 60. Only 34 percent approve of same-sex marriage in that age bracket. But almost 70 percent of people between the ages of 16-44 support same-sex marriage rights, and 58 percent of those between 45 and 59 percent do.

 

Marriage case heads to Taiwan’s top court

A Taiwanese court punted Thursday on a case that could have created the first legal same-sex marriage in Asia, saying it would prepare to send it to the top court without issuing a ruling.

The dodge angered and disappointed LGBT activists.

“The judges showed no spine on this critical case. This could have become a milestone case for all Asia,” said Taiwanese LGBT rights advocate Chi Chia-wei.

The legal proceedings for a constitutional interpretation would take up to a year, according to Huang Kuo-cheng, one of the pro bono lawyers for the couple in this case, Chen Ching-hsueh and Kao Chih-wei.

This is a guest post by Amy Hsieh, a doctoral student of political science at The George Washington University and a former aide to Taiwanese lawmaker Bi-khim Hsiao.