Same-Sex Couples in Mexico Win Another Victory Against Discrimination

12va. Marcha del Orgullo, la Dignidad y la Diversidad Sexual en México. Foto tomada de la cuenta en Flickr de Jesus M. Hernandez.

12th March for Pride, Dignity and Sexual Diversity in Mexico. Photo take from Jesus M. Hernandez's Flickr account.

The legal battle for equality and the right of homosexual couples to not be discriminated against has been a struggle around the world. Mexico is no exception, but recently ground has been gained thanks to two resolutions, one local and one national, by the Nation's Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN), the country's highest court.

In the local matter, a case submitted to the Court's First Chamber for review questioned the legality of a local ordinance (in the Western State of Colima) establishing that marriage be circumscribed to only being between a man and a woman, but envisaging a special condition called a “conjugal bond” that can be celebrated between two persons of the same sex. In its determination, the First Chamber found for the petitioner, indicating that a condition considered to be equivalent to marriage, such as a “conjugal bond,” violates the right not to be discriminated against:

La Primera Sala revocó la sentencia recurrida y amparó al quejoso al determinar que el régimen separado al matrimonio que establece el citado artículo constitucional y el 145 del Código Civil referido bajo el rubro de enlace conyugal, efectivamente vulnera el derecho a la igualdad y no discriminación del quejoso, lo que significa que no sólo son inconstitucionales esas disposiciones, sino también todas las porciones normativas de los artículos en los que se hace referencia a esta institución.

En este sentido, la Primera Sala reafirmó que no existe ninguna justificación racional para negar el acceso al matrimonio a las parejas homosexuales, aun cuando existiera un régimen jurídico diferenciado al cual pudieran optar dichas parejas en lugar de casarse, incluso si la figura en cuestión tuviera los mismos derechos que el matrimonio, pues se les reconocería un conjunto incompleto de derechos siguiendo su orientación sexual.

The First Chamber reversed the decision under appeal and supported the complainant's determination that the separate framework apart from marriage, established in the above mentioned constitutional article and in 145 of the referred to Civil Code under the label of conjugal bond, effectively violates the complainant's right to equality and to not be discriminated against, meaning that not only are those provisions unconstitutional, but also that all the regulatory portions of those articles to which this institution makes reference are as well.

In this sense, the First Chamber reaffirmed that there exists no rational justification to deny access to marriage to homosexual couples, even though there existed a differentiated legal framework to which these couples could resort in place of marrying each other, even if the condition in question conferred the same rights as marriage, as they would be granted an incomplete set of rights according to their sexual orientation.

This determination, referring to a set of local laws in Colima, has caused traditional media to indicate that the Supreme Court has consolidated its position in favor of gay marriage.

In the second case, the court's position affecting the entire country was published officially on June 19, 2015. It reiterates its rationale, constituting a criterion or precedent of compulsory compliance, through which it was determined that homosexual couples are in a situation equivalent to that of heterosexual couples. This precedent includes an interesting pronouncement on one of the reasons why homosexual couples have been vulnerable:

La razón por la cual las parejas del mismo sexo no han gozado de la misma protección que las parejas heterosexuales no es por descuido del órgano legislativo, sino por el legado de severos prejuicios que han existido tradicionalmente en su contra y por la discriminación histórica.

The reason for which couples of the same sex have not enjoyed the same protection as heterosexual couples has not been due to legislative oversight, but due to the legacy of severe prejudices which have traditionally existed against them and due to historic discrimination.

It concludes:

La exclusión de las parejas del mismo sexo de la institución matrimonial perpetúa la noción de que las parejas del mismo sexo son menos merecedoras de reconocimiento que las heterosexuales, ofendiendo con ello su dignidad como personas y su integridad.

The exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage perpetuates the notion that same-sex couples are less deserving of recognition than heterosexuals, thereby offending their dignity as persons and the integrity of their personhood.

The precedent in question definitively determines that for the courts there exists no constitutional reason to not recognize marriage between persons of the same sex. This, it should be mentioned, does not imply that local and federal laws have been automatically rewritten. In a system of distribution of power (of office) such as that to which Mexico aspires, this duty falls to legislative authorities.

Along these same lines, a member of the local legislative authority recently gained notoriety by making statements that were not only in poor taste, but also contrary to the Supreme Court's adopted position:

Ana María Jiménez Ortiz, diputada local del PAN en Puebla, declaró la semana pasada durante un foro realizado en esa entidad que “sólo debe considerarse como matrimonio aquellas relaciones en las que los integrantes sostienen relaciones sexuales mirándose a la cara”.

Precisamente, según la legisladora, esto “no ocurre entre las parejas homosexuales”, quienes tienen relaciones sexuales con la luz apagada; también quienes se vendan los ojos incurren en esta falta, remató. Dijo que se basaba en el método científico para afirmar esto.

Ana María Jiménez Ortiz, local deputy of the PAN party in Puebla, declared last week during a forum in the same state that “the only type of relationships that should be considered as marriage are the ones where the people involved look each other in the face when they have sex.”

According to the legislator, this is precisely what “does not occur between homosexual couples,” who have sex with the lights out; also those who blindfold themselves incur the same fate, she concluded. She said that she confirmed this based on the scientific method.

The legislator in question belongs to the Partido Acción Nacional (the conservative National Action Party), which in recent federal elections reaffirmed its position as the second political power nationally. Jiménez Ortiz's statements were recorded in this video on YouTube.

On Twitter, Adriano Numa had this to say about the legislator's declarations:

Ana María Jiménez Ortíz PAN deputy dark age stupidity in action…

— Adriano Numa (@adriano_numa) June 18, 2015

Likewise, E Páramo made these comments about marriage between persons of the same sex:

If you don't agree with same sex marriage, don't get one. #Libertad #SíAlMatrimonioParejasdelMismoSexo (#Freedom #YesToSameSexMarriage)

— E Páramo (@Param0_) June 19, 2015

Based on all of the above, it can be deduced that equality and the right to not be discriminated against have won important battles in Mexico, but continue their legal and social journey on the long road to justice.

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