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Peru: Gay Marriage Becomes Presidential Election Issue

Cake at Gay Wedding. (Antonio Guerra/Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The issue of same-sex marriage has been discussed among the Peruvian public for some time, but only recently has it become a part of the political platforms of presidential candidates [es]. The reason for this change comes from statements made by a representative of the Catholic Church in Peru, firmly rejecting the notion of marriage between people of the same sex [es], which generated a media frenzy that, in turn, has provoked all types of reactions among activists, bloggers, newspaper columnists, common citizens and, as mentioned previously, among the presidential candidates in the election this year. The candidates are using the situation to define their positions on the issue.

Former president Alejandro Toledo (of the party Perú Posible), who leads the recent polls for President [es], confirms that his suggested political program is examining civil unions between homosexuals and working “toward an inclusive society. This is not a repressive State.” Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, candidate of the party Fuerza Social [es], has declared himself in favor of reforming Peru's laws in order to have marriages between couples of the same sex [es]. Meanwhile, other candidates are considering less radical legal measures. Luis Castañeda (of Solidaridad Nacional) has proposed giving inheritance benefits, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (of Alianza por el Gran Cambio [es]) suggests establishing civil unions [es], as does Keiko Fujimori (of Fuerza 2011).

Political analysts in the media share the opinion that this issue doesn't seem to be an attempt to win voters’ ballots, although in a democracy it is always good for the candidates’ images to be seen defending the rights of minorities. Meanwhile, opinions in the local blogosphere (and on Twitter) appeared immediately.

El Davo indicates on his blog DaV [es] that,

El debate entre los candidatos al sillón presidencial está girando en torno a tres puntos: Consumo de drogas, aborto y unión civil entre personas del mismo sexo.”

The debate between the candidates vying for the presidential chair are circling in turn to three subjects: drug consumption, abortion, and same-sex civil unions.

Peruanista [es] alerts us on his blog [es] that, despite the subject having been politicized by the election:

es importante que se discuta la igualdad de derechos civiles de los ciudadanos peruanos que son gays, lesbianas, bisexuales y transgénero (LGBT), a nivel público y de forma respetuosa.

it is also important that the equality of civil rights be discussed in a public and respectful manner for those Peruvians that are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

Diego Avendaño, in Desde la Clandestinidad [es], points out a real problem challenging same-sex couples in Peru:

El caso es que muchas veces las parejas homosexuales no son reconocidas ante el Estado cuando deben reclamar bienes heredados o para tomar decisiones sobre la salud de la pareja, como sí es posible con las parejas (heterosexuales) casadas…

The case is that many times the homosexual couples are not recognized by the State when they claim inherited real-estate or try to make important healthcare decisions on their partner's behalf, as heterosexual married couples can…

Tonnio from Gay Como Tu [es] makes a review of differences and similarities among the legal measures of civil marriage and free civil union (this last being suggested by several candidates), and links them to current laws related to the issue under debate, indicating that:

debemos recordar que de lo que se trata aquí es de obtener los mismos beneficios conyugales como el hecho de no querer (sic) desamparados ante la ley después de tantos años de convivencia o en caso de enfermedad, viudez, herencia, hijos y demás derechos que encierra la figura marital.

we must remember that what is being attempted here is the obtainment of the same marital benefits. That is to say, not wanting to be helpless before the law after so many years of living together or in the case of sickness, bereavement, inheritance, children and other rights that go along with the legal implications of marriage.

The collective Respeto X Respeto [es] suggests the de-regulation of marriage as is set out right now in the Peruvian Civil Code:

El matrimonio no es otra cosa que un contrato entre dos partes… en la que las partes deben decidir por ellas mismas qué reglas cautelan mejor sus intereses… Así, se dejaría de exigir que se trate de la unión de “hombre y mujer”, pudiendo hacerse referencia a la unión de dos personas.

Marriage isn't anything other than a contract between two parties… in that the two parties must decide for themselves what rules best protect their interests… In that, the law would not demand that a union be defined between “man and wife,” but rather making it to be instead a reference to a union of two people.

Alvaro Felipe, notices the opportunistic, politicized use of the issue, and on his personal blog [es] calls for maintaining the level of debate:

si tú te arañas hablando de tolerancia con los homosexuales, o eres un candidato improvisado más que usa ese tema en campaña, recuerda que la tolerancia que pregonas deberías aplicarla con quienes no están de acuerdo contigo. Sino eres un hipócrita más que está seguro que todos le creen.

if you manage to start talking about tolerance toward homosexuals, or you are an improvising candidate using this subject solely for your campaign, remember that the same tolerance that you are extolling should also apply to those who don't agree with you. Otherwise you are a hypocrite and surely so are the people that believe you.
gay pride peru GLBT

Peru: Drag Queens dressing in costume of viceroyalty in the Gay Pride Day parade. (Photo: MANNOVER/Flickr. Used under Creative Commons licenase CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The debate has extended to Twitter where it has been rougher and more caustic:

@Pornosgay declares:

campaña electoral hacia la presidencia de Perú ha encontrado en la legalización del matrimonio homosexual un gran tema de debate

the presidential election campaign of Peru has found in homosexual marriage legalization a great subject for debate

Alejandro Toledo (@atoledomanrique), candidate for Perú Posible and predecessor of the current president Alan García, clarifies:

No planteamos matrimonio gay. Proponemos la Unión Civil como un mecanismo legal de protección de derechos.

No we are not suggesting gay marriage. We are proposing a civil union as a legal mechanism to protect peoples’ rights.

Gio Infante (@gioinfante) gives his opinion on the matter:

La agenda del matrimonio y la unión civil es frívola, ¿sabían que en Perú cada 5 días muere asesinada una lesbiana, travesti o gay?

The issue of marriage or civil union is frivolous. Did you know that in Peru a lesbian, transvestite or gay is killed every 5 days?

Mapi Aguirre (@estroginoxxx) continues:

Toledo quiere legalizar drogas luego Bruce union civil gay Castañeda quiere hacer de Peru un MEGAPUENTE Y Keiko sacar al padre #CIRCO

Presidential candidate Toledo wants to legalize drugs, candidate Bruce gay civil unions, candidate Castañada has big plans for Peru and candidate Keiko wants to save her dad #CIRCUS

From a constitutional perspective, Agustin Haya (@agustinhaya) reports:

La Constitución del Perú desde 1979 no precisa género en el matrimonio. Las uniones civiles homosexuales o lesbianas están protegidas

The Constitution of Peru, since 1979, generally does not define marriage. Homosexual or lesbian civil unions are protected

Vilma Granados (@vilmavgc) observes:

@elecciones tantas cosas de las q tratar y todos los candidatos solo hablan del matrimonio gay

@elecciones so many things that have to be dealt with but the only thing all the candidates are talking about is gay marriage

Armando Solís (@Belloperuviano) distributed on Twitter a message from the Facebook page Yo apoyo el matrimonio gay en Perú/ I support gay marriage for Peru [es]. The complete message reads:

…Es tiempo de que en nuestro país, se apruebe la Peru: Union Civil Gay, puesto que la comunidad gay peruana, por el momento no tiene ninguna clase de derecho, a pesar que la Unión Civil, no es del todo igualitaria, sería un primer gran paso para el Yo estoy a favor de la legalización del Matrimonio Gay, en nuestro país.

…It is time for this in our country, prove yourself Peru: gay civil unions, a place for the gay Peruvian community, because at this moment they do not have any rights. Although the civil union is not completely fair, it would be a first, great step for the country. I am in favor of the legalization of Gay Marriage in our nation.

Cristhian Rojas (@ChristhianRS) refers to Fuerza Social party as FS when he says:

haha FS cree que vive en un país moderno, liberal… casi europeo para proponer “matrimonio gay”. Demasiado lejos para ser el Perú.

haha FS believes that they live in a modern, liberal nation… maybe a European one for them to be proposing “gay marraige”. Peru is very far away what they are thinking.

Agustin Gamarra (@A_Gamarra) declares:

@atoledomanrique NO AL MATRIMONIO GAY EN PERÚ, que se vayan a casar a Argentina pero q no se corrompa la sociedad

@atoledomanrique NO TO GAY MARRIAGE IN PERU! Those that want it can marry in Argentina but don't corrupt our society

Ale Ramirez (@alesuszero) responds to the Catholic Church's statements:

Los gays iran al cielo, el obispo no RT @larepublica_pe: Obispos del Perú emiten comunicado en el que rechazan el matrimonio homosexual

Gays will go to heaven, but not the bishops RT @larepublica_pe: Bishops of Peru release statement that rejects homosexual marriage

Diego (@Mapache9999) also reacts to the bishops’ position on the issue:

A ver, que rechacen iglesias que protegen pedofilos RT @larryportera: #Peru obispos rechazan aborto y matrimonio gay

Hmm, the churches that reject homosexual marriage are the same ones that protect pedophiles @larryportera: #Peru bishops reject abortion and gay marriage

As the election date, April 10th, nears, this issue will surely be politicized further, as much by the candidate advertisements as the activist analysts and other members of society. The issue and its repercussions will be followed to see if finally a negociation is possible between supporters and opponents in the legal rights of LGBT citizens, which ultimately is what the supporters are calling for.

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