Across the region, civil unions are recognised in some cities in Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Mexico. Uruguay is the only Latin American country where the recognition of civil unions extends nationwide. Marriage however generally carries more rights than civil unions, such as adopting children, inheriting wealth, and enabling a partner to gain citizenship.
The free uniting of two people
In Mexico City, legislators passed the bill allowing gay couples to marry by changing the definition of marriage in the city's civic code, from ‘the union of a man and a woman’ to ‘the free uniting of two people’. This law is a precedent for the rest of Latin America and an achievement for the Mexican capital, where the law was approved despite strong opposition from PAN, the party of the Mexican president Felipe Calderón, and the Catholic Church.
The Alliance in Mexico
The Alliance has been working in Mexico since 1998, through the linking organisation Colectivo Sol, which runs the Vida Digna (life with dignity) programme, focusing on reducing HIV related stigma and discrimination with sex workers, men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and people living with HIV.
The invisibility and marginalisation of men who have sex with men in Mexico is perpetuated by the prevailing stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV and the persistence of the machismo culture.
The Vida Digna programme includes peer outreach work, support for networks and support; and promoting advocacy and the defence of human rights.
First gay marriage
Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre made history as the first same-sex couple to marry in the region at the end of December. The ceremony went ahead in Argentina’s most southern state, Tierra del Fuega, where the governor issued a special decree allowing the couple to wed there after they had been refused permission to marry in Buenos Aries. Argentina’s constitution does not specify whether marriage must be between a man and a woman, in effect letting provincial and city officials interpret the law. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on gay marriage next year.
Marriage in Mexico City is ‘the free uniting of two people’