Gay What ?
Rest of site back up shortly!

Mexican Supreme Court rules on gay partner benefits

Supreme Court, Mexico, gay news, Washington Blade

Mexican Supreme Court (Photo by Thelmadatter; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled the same-sex spouses of those who receive benefits under the country’s social security system must receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.

El Economista, a Mexican newspaper, reported the justices in a 3-2 ruling said the Mexican Social Security Institute – Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Spanish – must extend the same benefits that married heterosexual couples receive to gays and lesbians who have either tied the knot or entered into civil unions.

José Alberto Gómez Barroso, who married his partner in Mexico City in 2012, sought legal recourse through the Mexican judicial system after officials denied his request to add his spouse as a beneficiary under the country’s social security system. A lower court last year dismissed Gómez’s case after he passed away.

“The court’s ruling without a doubt is cause for celebration,” Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, a lawyer who filed lawsuits in 2011 and 2012 on behalf of three same-sex couples who tried to apply for marriage licenses in Oaxaca, told the Washington Blade. “The Supreme Court has been at the forefront of taking up decisions in relation to the rights of the LGBT community in Mexico.”

The ruling comes against the backdrop of the movement in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples in Mexico that continues to gain momentum.

The Mexican Supreme Court last February ruled the Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. States must also recognize gay nuptials that have taken place in Mexico City since the Mexican capital’s same-sex marriage law took effect in 2010.

A lesbian couple last month exchanged vows in Guadalajara in Jalisco. Gays and lesbians have also married in Colima, Chihuahua and in Quintana Roo and Yucatán on the Yucatán Peninsula on which the resort city of Cancún is located.

Same-sex couples in Baja California del Norte in which Tijuana is located and other states have sought marriage rights through the Mexican legal system. Coahuila currently extends property and inheritance rights and other limited legal protections to gays and lesbians.

“Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Mexico City, the Mexican Social Security Institute has been one of the toughest organizations to lobby, one of the most stubborn institutions when it comes to amending their rules and giving equal treatment to its affiliates who have same-sex couples,” Enrique Torre Molina, an LGBT rights advocate and blogger in Mexico City, told the Blade on Thursday as he discussed the Mexican Social Security Institute ruling. “This is another step towards equality for gay and lesbian couples.”

Méndez stressed gay and lesbian Mexicans continue to suffer discrimination as long as they are unable to secure marriage rights.

“The court responded within the extent of its authority, but the result is insufficient,” he told the Blade. “The respect of human rights should be the general rule and its violation is an exception that must be addressed.”

31
Jan
2014

Gay advocates outside U.S. applaud Supreme Court rulings

Louisa Wall, New Zealand, marriage equality, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

New Zealand Parliamentarian Louisa Wall (Photo courtesy of the office of Louisa Wall)

LGBT rights advocates around the world joined their American counterparts in celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court rulings that found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and struck down California’s Proposition 8.

“This is a fantastic outcome from the U.S. Supreme Court,” Kieran Rose, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, an Irish LGBT rights group, said. “The ruling is a pivotal moment in the achievement of equality for lesbian and gay people in the U.S. and the decision will echo across the world.”

A commission charged with reforming the Irish constitution in April overwhelmingly approved a recommendation to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore last Friday said a referendum on the issue will take place in 2014.

The British House of Lords continues to debate a proposal that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in England and Wales.

Andy Wasley, spokesperson for Stonewall, an LGBT advocacy group in the U.K., told the Washington Blade on Thursday his organization hopes “we’ll be celebrating too within the next few weeks.”

“It’s heartening to see a more enlightened attitude towards the rights of 19 million lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from the Supreme Court,” he said. “We’re delighted for those in California who can now dust off their wedding plans and look forward to their special day.”

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, a lawyer who represented three same-sex couples in the Mexican state of Oaxaca whom local authorities denied marriage licenses in 2011 and 2012, agreed.

The Mexican Supreme Court in February released its ruling that found the Oaxacan law against same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The three couples whom Méndez represented who petitioned the Mexican judicial system to ensure local authorities would protect their constitutional rights exchanged vows shortly after the country’s highest court announced its decision. Chihuahua and Baja California del Norte that includes the city of Tijuana are among the five other Mexican states in which same-sex marriage efforts are also underway.

“The decision from the (U.S. Supreme) Court is great news,” Méndez told the Blade. “Without a doubt it represents an advance and at the same time it is the realization of the international trend for equality and not to discriminate against the LGBTTTIQ community.”

Canada, Argentina, Iceland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and South Africa currently allow same-sex marriage.

Gays and lesbians will be able to tie the knot in Uruguay and New Zealand in August.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice last month said registrars cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gays and lesbians in neighboring Colombia last Thursday began to apply for civil marriage licenses, even though it remains unclear whether a 2011 ruling from the country’s highest court allows registrars and judges to issue them.

Louisa Wall, the New Zealand parliamentarian who introduced her country’s same-sex marriage bill that received final approval in April, told the Blade she is “incredibly proud” of LGBT rights advocates in the U.S. for “their persistent, progressive and inclusive pursuit of equality under the law.”

“I am also buoyed by the reaction to the decision by President Obama and his directive to officials to identify laws that this decision is relevant to and to expeditiously implement the necessary changes to guarantee legal equality for all couples,” Wall added.

Rodney Croome, national director of Australian Marriage Equality, said the Supreme Court decisions “sends a powerful message” to his country’s lawmakers on the issue.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision sends a direct message to Australian politicians that our law against same-sex marriage violates basic principles of equality and fair treatment must be removed,” he said.

LGBT rights advocates in other countries in which same-sex couples cannot legally marry echoed Croome.

Three gay Chilean couples who had been denied marriage licenses last September filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights after the South American country’s Supreme Court ruled against them.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh,) a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, said in a statement on Wednesday the Supreme Court decisions “changed the political and cultural context in relation to same-sex marriage.” The organization added it feels the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will certainly take these changes into account when it considers the case of the three gay Chilean couples.

“The signal given today by the U.S. Supreme Court is that the days of homophobic laws like DOMA are numbered,” Movilh said. “This is a process that nobody can stop.”

Gay News, Washington Blade, Supreme Court

Ugandan activvist Frank Mugisha (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan LGBT rights advocate, also welcomed the rulings.

He and other activists in Uganda and around the world have criticized the country’s lawmakers for supporting the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill that would impose the death penalty upon anyone convicted of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

Mugisha, whom then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored last summer at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, said he feels the Supreme Court decisions “weakens the extreme religious conservatives” whom he categorized as exporting “hate to Africa and Uganda.”

“I celebrate every step towards equality, especially in the United States,” Mugisha told the Blade hours after President Obama applauded the rulings and responded to a question about the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal during a press conference in the Senegalese capital with the country’s president. “Although our fight in Uganda is at the first step and not about marriage equality, due to the global village, equality for same-sex couples in the United States in certain ways adulterates homophobia in Uganda as Ugandans get used to gay people being normal globally.”

28
Jun
2013

Mexican same-sex couples seek marriage rights

Alex Ali Mendez Diaz, gay news, Washington Blade

Mexican lawyer Alex Ali Mendez Diaz (Photo courtesy of Alex Ali Mendez Diaz)

The movement for marriage rights for same-sex couples in Mexico continues to gain momentum as more gays and lesbians across the country seek the ability to exchange vows.

A gay couple in the city of Mérida in the state of Yucatán on Aug. 8 tied the knot after a federal judge in July said the two men could marry. A judge in the state of Chihuahua in which Ciudad Juarez is located on Aug. 19 ruled in favor of five same-sex couples who had sought legal recourse — known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system — that would allow them to marry.

A judge in the state of México, which is outside Mexico City, the country’s capital, in June ruled in support of four same-sex couples who had sought marriage rights. Local authorities appealed the decision.

Gays and lesbians in the states of Colima; Baja California; Guanajuato; Morales and Jalisco, in which Guadalajara and the resort city of Puerto Vallarta are located, have also petitioned local authorities to extend marriage rights to them.

These developments are taking place nearly a year after the Mexican Supreme Court found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Three couples tried to apply for marriage licenses in the state, but local authorities denied their applications. Lawyer Alex Alí Méndez Díaz filed lawsuits on behalf of two of the couples in August 2011 and a third in January 2012.

The justices unveiled their decision in February.

One of the Oaxacan couples that sought the right to marry tied the knot in March in what Méndez told the Washington Blade is the first same-sex marriage to take place in Mexico under a court order. He said a second couple will exchange vows in December, but the third couple will not marry in what Méndez described as a “symbol of solidarity with the local LGBT movement” over “legislative indifference to make the necessary reforms” to avoid bringing the issue to the Mexican federal courts.

Fourteen countries, along with 13 states and D.C. allow gays and lesbians to legally marry.

Mexico City in 2010 extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Mexican Supreme Court has ruled other states must recognize gay marriages legally performed in the Mexican capital.

Gays and lesbians have also exchanged vows in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula in which Cancún is located. The state of Coahuila offers property and inheritance rights and other limited legal protections to same-sex couples.

Opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples in Mexico remains in spite of recent advances on the issue.

Congresswoman Ana María Jiménez Ortiz, who represents the conservative political party PAN in the state of Puebla outside Mexico City, last month sparked controversy when she suggested officials should allow marriage only for “people that can look at each other in the eye while having sexual intercourse.”

“[That is] something that does not happen in homosexual couples,” she said.

Catholic groups in the month after the Mexican Supreme Court released its Oaxaca ruling submitted to the country’s Congress a petition against marriage rights for same-sex couples with 23,000 signatures.

“One can say that the rulings announced last December with respect to the Oaxacan cases mean the possibility that marriage equality is possible throughout Mexico through the judicial process,” Méndez told the Blade. “Unfortunately established moral and religious prejudices in the same state institutions have impeded any rapid movement on the issue.”

11
Sep
2013

Gay advocates outside U.S. welcome Obama’s inaugural address

Barack Obama, Inauguration 2013, gay news, Washington Blade

President Obama made history by including gays and lesbians in his 2013 inaugural address in two instances. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

LGBT advocates around the world continue to praise President Obama for including gays and lesbians in his second inaugural address.

Toni Reis, president of the Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals or ABGLT in Portuguese, described the specific references to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and “our gay brothers and sisters” as a “bold stance.”

“May the position you have taken publicly serve as an example for many politicians who are our allies but who remain in the closet when it comes to defending our rights publicly, or those that yield to political pressure from leaders opposed to gay rights and veto affirmative public policies for the LGBT population in exchange for political support,” he said in a press release. “Your gesture has demonstrated the importance of taking a firm and unambiguous position.”

Simón Cazal, chief executive officer of Somosgay, an LGBT advocacy organization in Paraguay, also applauded the president’s speech.

“President Obama’s declarations were received with much happiness in Paraguay because of the positive global impact they have on the LGBT movement,” he told the Washington Blade on Wednesday. “It gives hope to activists in countries where we confront violence and even death for simply being who we are.”

LGBT rights around the world became a cornerstone of the White House’s foreign policy during the president’s first term.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Dec. 2011 declared “gay rights are human rights” during a landmark speech in Geneva that commemorated International Human Rights Day. The White House on the same day released a presidential memo that directed agencies responsible for American foreign policy to promote LGBT rights.

The State Department has also spoken out against anti-LGBT violence in Honduras, Jamaica, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other countries — Ugandan gay rights activist Frank Mugisha is among those Clinton honored at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, the East African country’s capital, in August.

The former First Lady also spoke at the International AIDS Conference that took place last summer in D.C.

“Both achievements and failures in LGBT rights issues of America and other developed countries are often watched closely by emerging, young LGBT communities such as [the] LGBT Centre of Mongolia,” Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel, the group’s executive director, told the Blade in reference to Clinton’s speech in Geneva. “This time we are proud of Mr. Barack Obama who is in sync with the voice for equal rights and justice for all human beings. Mongolia — a small but ambitious nomadic mentality between two big powers — has been attempting to adopt democratic principles, values and ways of thinking into its post-socialistic transitional society and the United States of America is our third ally and definitely a role model of democracy.”

The president’s second inaugural speech also coincided with same-sex marriage debates that are currently underway in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, México and other countries.

New Zealand Parliamentarian Louisa Wall told the Blade she feels media coverage of the speech in her country “is contributing positively to the marriage equality debate” there.

“His words spoke to the heart of national identity based on passed social developments — all of us are created equal — recounting Seneca Falls, the evolution of women’s rights, Selma, [the] evolution of racial equality and Stonewall, the beginning of the evolution of the freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people’s to live open and honest lives,” she said. “Marriage equality will fulfill the values envisaged in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights — that all people have the ability to be born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

She added Obama’s LGBT-inclusive inaugural address reaffirm Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s previous comments against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

“[For] President Obama to say ‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well’ enshrines his commitment to full equality and non-discrimination in this his second presidential term,” Wall said. “This leadership is clear and concise — a truth that Obama is completely committed to, that of one law for all and the belief in and realization of full equality, in status, rights and opportunities for all.”

Jaime Parada Hoyl, who last October became Chile’s first openly gay candidate elected to office when he won a seat on the Providencia municipal council outside Santiago, the country’s capital, agreed.

“Today’s most important [world] leader is actually saying to the rest of us that governments have an obligation to protect their citizens from discrimination and abuses motivated by sexual orientation,” he told the Blade. “This cannot be overlooked. We expect a lot from Obama’s second term on this matter and hope that this will be able to translate to the rest of the world.”

Jaime Parada Hoyl, Chile, gay news, Washington Blade

Jaime Parada Hoyl on Oct. 28 became Chile’s first openly gay candidate elected to office. (Photo courtesy of Jaime Parada Hoyl)

24
Jan
2013

Mexican Supreme Court finds gay marriage ban unconstitutional

Oaxaca, gay marriage, marriage equality, same sex marriage, Mexico

Lawyer Alex Ali Mendez Diaz represented three same-sex couples from the Mexican state of Oaxaca whom local authorities denied marriage licenses. (Photo courtesy of Alex Ali Mendez Diaz)

The Mexican Supreme Court on Monday formally released its ruling that found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The 56-page decision cites two U.S. Supreme Court cases that specifically addressed race-based discrimination and segregation: Loving v. Virginia that found state bans on interracial marriages unconstitutional and Brown v. Board of Education that struck down laws that allowed separate public schools for black and white students.

“The historic disadvantages that homosexuals have suffered have been amply recognized and documented: public scorn, verbal abuse, discrimination in their places of employment and in the access of certain services, including their exclusion from certain aspects of public life,” the judges wrote. “In comparative law it has been argued that discrimination that homosexual couples have suffered when they are denied access to marriage is analogous with the discrimination suffered by interracial couples at another time.”

They further point out the U.S. Supreme Court said in Loving v. Virginia that restricting marriage on the basis of race is “incompatible” with the Equal Protection Clause under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

“In connection with this analogy, it can be said that the normative power of marriage is of little use if it does not give the possibility to marry the person that one chooses,” the judges wrote.

The court released its decision more than two months after the judges unanimously struck down the Oaxaca law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Three couples tried to apply for marriage licenses in the state, but local authorities denied their applications. Lawyer Alex Alí Méndez Díaz filed lawsuits on behalf of two of the couples in Aug. 2011 and a third in Jan. 2012 who sought legal recourse — an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system — to ensure local authorities would protect their constitutional rights.

The ruling also comes roughly six weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

“They do it when in our country there is no previous rulings on the subject,” Méndez told the Washington Blade from Mexico City when asked whether it is common for Mexican Supreme Court judges to cite cases from other countries in their decisions. “These rulings are the first at the national level that support the topics in the way in which we had planned.”

Marriage debate continues throughout Latin America

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in the Mexican capital since 2010, and the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled other states must recognize gay marriages legally performed in Mexico City. Gays and lesbians have also married in Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula, while the state of Coahuila offers property and inheritance rights and other limited legal protections to same-sex couples.

The Uruguay House of Representatives in December overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot. Same-sex marriage advocates expect the measure will easily pass in the country’s Senate in April — President José Mujica has said he will sign it into law.

A Colombian Senate committee in December also approved a same-sex marriage bill. A court in the Brazilian state of São Paolo later that month ordered registries to begin offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples without a judge’s approval.

Argentina has allowed same-sex couples to marry since 2010, while Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in 2011 said he would introduce a bill that would allow gay men and lesbians to enter into civil unions. Same-sex couples would be allowed to tie the knot and adopt children in French Guiana under a proposal the French Senate is scheduled to begin debating on April 2.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Feb. 2012 ruled in favor of lesbian Chilean Judge Karen Atala who lost custody of her three daughters to her ex-husband in 2005 because of her sexual orientation. Three gay couples from Chile who had been denied marriage licenses filed a lawsuit with the tribunal last September after the South American country’s Supreme Court ruled against them.

The Mexican Supreme Court cited the Atala case its decision that only applies to the three same-sex couples who had sought marriage licenses in Oaxaca.

“It just confirms that fighting for marriage equality on a federal level makes more sense and is becoming an increasingly global trend,” Enrique Torre Molina, an LGBT activist and blogger in Mexico City, told the Blade.

The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday is expected to formally announce its decision on whether the Oaxacan law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman is discriminatory. The judges will have to rule on an additional “amparo” from Oaxaca before gays and lesbians can legally tie the knot in the state.

“For there to be same-sex marriage throughout the country, if there is not a reform of the civil laws of each state, we will need five rulings in each one of the states that comprise the federation [of Mexico,]” Méndez noted.

19
Feb
2013

Same-sex marriage bill advances in New Zealand parliament

New Zealand, parliament, gay news, Washington Blade

Parliament building in New Zealand (Photo by Midnighttonight via Wikimedia Commons)

A New Zealand parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended lawmakers approve a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry.

The New Zealand Herald reported the Government Administration Committee endorsed the measure introduced by lesbian Parliamentarian Louisa Wall with an amendment that would allow clergy to not perform gay weddings if they go against their religious beliefs.

“Marriage equality is about fairness and choice,” Wall told the newspaper. “This process has showed that that message has really resonated with New Zealanders.”

Parliamentarians last August approved the same-sex marriage bill in its first reading by an 80-40 vote margin. It’s second reading is scheduled to take place on March 13.

Prime Minister John Key supports the measure.

Canada, Argentina, Spain, Denmark and South Africa are among the countries that currently allow same-sex marriage.

The British House of Commons earlier this month approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples tie the knot in England and Wales. The French National Assembly on Feb. 12 passed a similar measure that would also extend adoption rights to gay men and lesbians.

The Mexican Supreme Court last week formally found the state of Oaxaca’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court next month will hear oral arguments in two cases that challenge the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

“We’re very aware that New Zealand’s progress towards allowing same sex couples to marry mirrors what’s happening in a number of other western countries,” Jackie Russell-Green of the New Zealand Campaign for Marriage Equality told the Washington Blade. “This is part of a broader tradition of ever increasing human rights throughout the western world and the belief that the law should be equally applied to all. I am sure that members of Parliament are mindful of what’s happening overseas as they consider the issue of marriage equality in New Zealand.”

28
Feb
2013

Mexican Supreme Court rules anti-gay slurs are not protected speech

Oaxaca, gay marriage, marriage equality, same sex marriage, Mexico

Lawyer Alex Ali Mendez Diaz represented three same-sex couples from the Mexican state of Oaxaca whom local authorities denied marriage licenses. (Photo courtesy of Alex Ali Mendez Diaz)

Mexican Supreme Court justices on Tuesday announced a ruling that found anti-gay slurs are not protected speech under the country’s constitution.

Justice Minister Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea requested the justices for the first time in Mexican legal history decide what the court described in a press release that announced its decision as “the complex problem between freedom of expression and discriminatory manifestations – specifically homophobic expressions.”

The justices in their 3-2 ruling concluded the words “maricones” and “puñal” two newspaper reporters from the state of Puebla used to criticize each others work are offensive and discriminatory.

“It was determined that the expressions ‘maricones’ and ‘puñal’ as they were used in this present case were not found to be protected under the Constitution,” it reads.

The Mexico City-based National Council to Prevent Discrimination described the court’s decision as a “substantive advance in the fight against homophobia in Mexico.”

The ruling comes less than two months after the European Court of Human Rights found religious beliefs cannot justify discrimination against same-sex couples.

The Mexican Supreme Court last month formally released its decision that found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Three couples tried to apply for marriage licenses in the state, but their applications were denied. They then sought legal recourse known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system that would ensure local authorities would protect their constitutional rights.

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, a lawyer who represents them, told the Washington Blade earlier this week the first of the three Oaxacan couples plan to marry later this month.

07
Mar
2013

Staying HIV free for a price?

Mexico City, gay pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Mexico City gay pride parade (Photo by Thelmadatter via Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK — A new study has found that young gay men in Mexico City would pledge to stay HIV-free, attend a monthly safe-sex talk and take regular HIV tests to prove they were uninfected if they were paid $288 per year, the New York Times reported last week.

Male sex workers would accept just $156 for the same pledge, the study found.

Researchers at Brown University, the University of California at Berkeley and Mexico’s national public health institute conducted the study, published online by the European Journal of Health Economics, the Times reported. Treatment for HIV drugs costs the country’s public health system about $7,000 per year, so paying people to stay HIV-free might be a bargain in the long run, researchers said.

Researchers approached men aged 18-25 in gay bars, discos and the streets of the city’s red-light district. The 40-minute survey, taken on cell phone-size computers, increased or decreased the amount each man was offered until 70 percent answered yes, the Times reported.

10
Apr
2013