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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

Tacos and tequila

Cinco de Mayo, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Cinco de Mayo, which is not Mexican Independence Day (that comes Sept. 16), is celebrated in the United States and in Mexico on the fifth of May. The holiday, on Monday this year, commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla.

Today in the U.S., it’s observed as a celebration of Mexican heritage. Celebrations here originated in areas containing large Mexican-American contingencies such as the Los Angeles area. Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated continuously in California since 1863.

The city of Puebla, where the holiday originated, is also renowned by many as a culinary capital where legendary dishes such as mole poblano, chalupas and chiles en Nogado were created. With all this historical food surrounding the holiday, it’s no wonder we spend a majority of the day eating. Sometimes we may not be dining on the most historically appropriate food, but the sentiment is there, and many District restaurants are eager to get a piece of the action.

If you’re hoping to start off the celebration a bit early, then Taco Bamba’s Bamba Bowl is the event for you. On Saturday, Taco Bamba will host some of the District’s best taquarias at Del Campo (777 I St., N.W.). Participating restaurants include Mexicana Bakery, Oyamel, Casa Oaxaca and Taco Bamba. For just $30, you can taste the offerings of each and help decide the winner.

If you want to spend the day on the water, the Agua 301 (301 Water St., S.E.) is just the right place for you to spend Cinco de Mayo. Located right on the waterfront, this restaurant puts a creative twist on modern Mexican cuisine. Try the jumbo lump crab guacamole — that alone will make your day memorable.

Bandolero (3241 M St., N.W.) is located in the heart of Georgetown and while “Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella has not revealed his holiday menu yet, it’s bound to be full of creative twists on modern mexican cuisine. Anybody want to celebrate with an Octapus taco? If so. this is the place to spend your evening.

Casa Oaxaca (2106 18th St. N.W.) is a traditional Mexican establishment that offers a multitude of moles from white all the way to chocolate-infused black mole. While there, be sure to try out the kekas which are tortilla made of blue corn, cheese, poblano peppers and carnitas.

El Centro on 14th Street (1819 14th St., N.W.) is one of the best places to party on Cinco de Mayo with an outdoor rooftop to enjoy if the weather is nice. El Centro also touts a wide selection of tequilas, sangrias and margaritas to choose from on top of the mouthwatering dining options. And to liven up the festivities a bit more, El Centro will have a live DJ from 7 p.m. to close.

El Chulo (3313 11th St. N.W.) is a Mexican restaurant in Columbia Heights that specializes in home cooking and street food. All the margaritas are prepared with fresh-squeezed juice and other divine ingredients.

Lauriol Plaza (1835 18th St. N.W.) is always packed for Cinco de Mayo festivities. Located just off Dupont Circle and featuring a traditional Mexican menu, it’s one of the largest and most popular dining establishments in the District. Expect a margarita-filled and boisterous good time if you choose to celebrate the holiday at Lauriol.

Richard Sandoval’s Masa 14 (1825 14th St. N.W.) will be showcasing three different margaritas specifically for the evening which pair perfectly with some new small plates off the spring menu. The mini Ancho chile mahi mahi quesadilla and the Veracruz chicken chalupa both look phenomenal.

MXDC (600 14th St. N.W.) is located in Metro Center and offers delicious bites from Mexico and beyond including three types of guacamole to snack on while downing one of the delicious sangrias offered. Then get down to business with some mahi mahi or pork belly tacos.

Oyamel (401 7th St. N.W.) by Jose Andres was named one of the Top 10 Mexican Restaurants in the world by Reforma magazine. What better way to spend Cinco de Mayo than with the best brought to you by Head Chef Colin King?

At Sandoval’s Zengo (781 7th St., N.W. in Chinatown), chips, salsa and hors d’oeuvres will be available to guests who stop by the lower level lounge around 3 p.m. Monday. Drink specials will also be available.

30
Apr
2014

Denmark officials urged to reconsider blood ban

blood donation, Denmark, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo public domain)

Activists in Denmark say the blood ban there that prevents gay and bi men from donating blood lacks scientific evidence, Pink News, a British LGBT news agency, reports.

Six political parties have called on Copenhagen’s Health Minister Nick Haekkerup to revise the ban. In 2011, England, Wales and Scotland introduced a one-year deferral for gay and bi men to donate. Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Edwin Poots has resisted ending the lifetime ban there, Pink News said.

In some countries such as Uruguay, Mexico and Portugal, gay and bisexual men are able to donate blood without issue.

Enhedslisten, Denmark’s most left-wing political party, said lifting the ban would help increase blood stocks, Pink News reports.

07
May
2014

Gay Mexican couple seeks right to marry

Supreme Court, Mexico, gay news, Washington Blade

The Supreme Court of Mexico (Photo public domain)

A gay Mexican couple seeking the right to legally marry on Monday filed a formal complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in D.C.

The couple, who remain anonymous, say an official in the state where they live denied their request to tie the knot.

The two men have sought legal recourse — known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system — that would allow them to marry. Hunter T. Carter, a New York-based lawyer representing the couple, notes one of the men who is living with HIV does not have access to his partner’s medical benefits — and medications used to treat the virus — because they lack legal recognition.

“Every day that they cannot be legally married, his health and their family are threatened more,” said Carter.

The Mexican Supreme Court last month ruled in favor of 39 people who challenged the constitutionality of a Oaxacan law that bans gay marriage. The same tribunal in 2012 ruled in favor of three same-sex couples who separately sought legal recourse that would allow them to marry in the state.

Gays and lesbians have been able to marry in Mexico City since 2010. Same-sex couples have also sought to exchange vows in Jalisco, Chihuahua, Quintana Roo and other Mexican states as the issue gains additional traction in the country.

The Mexican Supreme Court in January 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.

Former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera argued against the “new definition of marriage” in a brief filed last November with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, filed on behalf of three same-sex couples who are seeking the ability to tie the knot in the South American country. The New York City Bar Association — of which Carter is a member — last month filed a brief with the Colombian Constitutional Court on behalf of two gay couples who are challenging efforts to nullify their unions.

Same-sex couples are able to legally marry in Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and 18 U.S. states and D.C.

“The Americas are in the vanguard of marriage equality: the majority of same-sex couples in the hemisphere live where they can get married, or if married elsewhere can have their marital rights recognized,” said Carter. “But many, as in Chile and Mexico, still cannot because their leaders still practice a pure discrimination that is unsustainable under international human rights law and constitutional principles of the equal protection of the laws.”

“We call upon the Inter-American Commission immediately to hold substantive hearings on these applications and on the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples generally,” he added.

12
May
2014

Supporters mark global day against homophobia, transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Hong Kong, gay news, Washington Blade

A poster promoting the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Hong Kong (Photo courtesy of Bess Hepworth/Pink Season HK)

LGBT rights advocates in more than 120 countries will commemorate this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) with a series of vigils, conferences and other events.

Geena Rocero, a transgender Filipino fashion model who founded Gender Proud, a trans advocacy group, is among those who are scheduled to take part in an IDAHOT event outside of Manila, the country’s capital, that the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines has organized. Rocero on Thursday also participated in a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong that local LGBT rights advocates organized.

The Rainbow Pride Foundation, a Fijian LGBT advocacy group, on May 10 held its own candlelight vigil at a church in Suva, the Pacific island nation’s capital. Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education on the same day held a “conga against homophobia” in the Cuban capital as part of a series of events throughout the country that will commemorate IDAHOT.

The Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays on Friday will hold a symposium at a hotel in the Jamaican capital that will examine challenges that LGBT people in the Caribbean country continue to face. María Eugenia González, co-founder of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, is scheduled to attend an anti-bullying conference in the Peruvian city of Iquitos on May 21.

So-called rainbow flash mobs are scheduled to take place in at least 11 Russian cities on May 17. An estimated 100 people are expected to gather in Khabarovsk to release rainbow colored balloons in an IDAHOT demonstration that city officials have allowed to take place.

Svetlana Zakharova of the Russian LGBT Network told the Washington Blade earlier this week that her colleagues are “willing to defend their rights” in spite of the Kremlin’s ongoing crackdown on LGBT rights. These include a 2013 law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors.

“Whatever the difficulties, many LGBT (people) and their supporters in Russia are looking forward to participating in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia,” said Zakharova.

Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays Executive Director Dane Lewis had a similar view, noting anti-LGBT violence and discrimination remain pervasive in the country.

“We need to begin to have discussions about the layers of stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBT Jamaicans and the challenges faced by those who identify as Christians,” he said.

Kate Montecarlo Cordova, chair of the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines, noted to the Blade that LGBT Filipinos lack legal protections and access to health care. She said hate crimes and speech, anti-trans harassment and bullying in the predominantly Muslim portion of the country that includes the island of Mindanao often go unreported.

“We, from the transgender community, feel that the IDAHOT celebration is important in our advocacy and in our lives,” said Cordova.

The Mexican government this year is officially organizing IDAHOT for the first time.

Enrique Torre Molina, an LGBT rights advocate and blogger in Mexico City, told the Blade earlier this week that he is hopeful that President Enrique Peña Nieto will speak at an IDAHOT event.

The British Council Mexico on Friday hosted an event that government officials, local LGBT activists and journalists attended.

“The conversation will go beyond the government’s official position and public policy on the subject of homophobia,” said Molina. “Fighting homophobia and promoting respect is, at the end, a task that concerns us all.”

The Finnish government on Thursday announced it will increase its contribution to the Global Equality Fund, a public-private partnership founded by C-SPAN co-founder John Evans that seeks to promote LGBT rights, by one million Euros. A State Department press release noted that Helsinki will continue to work with the governments of Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, the Arcus Foundation and other groups to “build on our shared commitment and partnership to advance freedom, equality and dignity for all.”

“Today of all days, we are reminded that the cause of justice can and must triumph over hatred and prejudice,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “This is a day of action for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities and their allies all over the world. It is time to reaffirm our commitment to the equality and dignity of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Gays, trans people gain rights in 2013

IDAHOT first took place on May 17, 2005, to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

This year’s commemoration takes place against the backdrop of significant progress in the LGBT rights movement in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and other regions of the world.

Ten U.S. states, Brazil, Uruguay, France, England, Wales and New Zealand have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples over the last year. The U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Dutch Senate last December approved a bill that would allow trans people to legally change the gender on their birth certificates and other official documents without undergoing sterilization and sex reassignment surgery. A similar measure advanced in the Chilean Senate earlier this year.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday signed a bill that bans anti-discrimination in his state. A similar measure took effect in neighboring Delaware last year.

The Indian Supreme Court last month issued a landmark ruling that recognizes trans people as a “third gender.”

Jamaican and Belizean judges last year heard lawsuits challenging their country’s laws that criminalize homosexuality. A Lebanese judge in March struck down the Middle Eastern nation’s anti-sodomy statute in the case of a trans woman who faced charges for allegedly having a relationship with a man.

Gay Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was sworn into office last December. Angélica Lozano, a former Council woman in the Colombian capital, in March became the first openly LGBT person elected to the South American country’s Congress.

LGBT rights crackdowns continue in Africa, Russia

In spite of this progress, anti-LGBT violence and discrimination remain pervasive in many parts of the world.

The U.S. and several European countries cut aid to Uganda after the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, in February signed into a law a bill that imposes a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in January signed a draconian anti-gay bill that, among other things, bans membership in an LGBT advocacy group and punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison.

The 2014 Winter Olympics took place in Sochi, Russia, in February against the backdrop of criticism over the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record.

Police arrested 10 activists who held rainbow and Russian flags as they sung the country’s national anthem near Moscow’s Red Square just before the games’ opening ceremony began. Authorities earlier in the day arrested four Russian LGBT rights advocates in St. Petersburg as they marched with a banner in support of adding sexual orientation to the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination clause.

The Indian Supreme Court late last year recriminalized homosexuality — it announced in April it will consider a motion to reconsider the controversial decision. A new Brunei legal code that punishes those convicted of homosexuality by stoning them to death has sparked global outrage that includes calls to boycott hotels the Bruneian government owns.

A report the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission released earlier this week found discrimination and violence against lesbians, bisexual women and trans people in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan remains pervasive. Grupo Gay da Bahia, a Brazilian LGBT advocacy group, noted more than a quarter of the 338 reported LGBT homicide victims in Brazil in 2012 were trans.

Carlos Vela of the Homosexual Community of Hope in the Loreto Region (of Perú) told the Blade that one LGBT person a week is murdered in the South American country. This violence continues to take place, even as Peruvian lawmakers debate a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.

“It is the most extreme expression of systematic violence,” said Vela, referring to the murders of LGBT Peruvians.

Jasmine Kaur of Oceania Pride, which took part in the May 10 candlelight vigil in the Fijian capital, noted homophobia, anti-LGBT hate crimes and violence is “quite strong for the LGBTIQ community” in the South Pacific country. She said the Fijian constitution includes a non-discrimination clause, but it is “flawed.”

“The bill of rights has many limitations,” said Kaur. “It is not one that can guarantee its citizens protections.”

The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday released a report that documents advances and setbacks in the global LGBT rights movement over the last year.

“Despite entrenched homophobia and transphobia in many nations around the world, the global fight for LGBT equality made historic gains in 2013,” said HRC Director of Global Engagement Ty Cobb. “At the same time, last year included horrific new anti-LGBT laws as well as alarming trends in anti-LGBT harassment and violence. These serve as important reminders of the many challenges ahead and the tremendous amount of work left to be done.”

Henness Wong, a Hong Kong activist who helped plan IDAHOT events in the former British colony, said the climate for the city’s LGBT residents is slowly beginning to improve in spite of lingering institutional and cultural homophobia and transphobia.

“Hong Kong is definitely safer than Brunei who will stone gays,” said Wong.

16
May
2014

Mexican Supreme Court rules against same-sex marriage ban

Supreme Court, Mexico, gay news, Washington Blade

The Mexican Supreme Court (Photo public domain)

The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled a law that bans same-sex marriage in the state of Baja California is unconstitutional.

The decision came in the case of a gay couple who brought a legal challenge — known as an “amparo” in Mexico — after officials in the city of Mexicali denied their request for a marriage license.

“The exclusion of marriage to same-sex partners goes against the self-determination of people and each individual’s right to freely develop their personality,” reads a press release that announces the court’s decision. “In addition, it implicitly generates a violation of the principle of equality, because it gives differential treatment to same-sex couples with respect to heterosexual couples.”

The court also concludes the “reproductive function or perpetuation of the species” and “the formation of a family is not, in any way, the purpose of marriage.”

“Each person will determine what they will do as they wish, as part of the free development of their personality, whether that is through the institution of marriage — heterosexual or not — or of another type of union,” it says.

The Baja California decision is the latest in a series of rulings from the Mexican Supreme Court in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The tribunal in April ruled in favor of 39 people who challenged the constitutionality of a Oaxacan law that bans gay nuptials. The Mexican Supreme Court in 2012 ruled in favor of three same-sex couples who separately sought legal recourse that would allow them to marry in the state.

Gays and lesbians have been able to marry in Mexico City since 2010 — and those unions are legally recognized throughout the country. Same-sex couples have also sought to exchange vows in Jalisco, Chihuahua, Colima, Quintana Roo and other Mexican states.

The Mexican Supreme Court in January 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.

A gay Mexican couple whose request to tie the knot was denied last month filed a formal complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in D.C.

Same-sex couples are able to legally marry in Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, 20 states and D.C., French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe and the Dutch island of Saba along with Mexico City.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. A federal judge earlier in the day ruled Indiana’s gay nuptials prohibition is unconstitutional.

Four same-sex couples seeking marriage rights in Puerto Rico on Wednesday joined a federal lawsuit that two women filed in March.

Two Colombian same-sex couples have challenged efforts to nullify their marriages in the South American country’s highest court.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, has filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of three gay couples are seeking marriage rights in the country.

“The Americas are in the vanguard of marriage equality: the majority of same-sex couples in the hemisphere live where they can get married, or if married elsewhere can have their marital rights recognized,” Hunter T. Carter, a New York-based lawyer who advocates for marriage rights for same-sex couples in Latin America, told the Washington Blade last month. “But many, as in Chile and Mexico, still cannot because their leaders still practice a pure discrimination that is unsustainable under international human rights law and constitutional principles of the equal protection of the laws.”

26
Jun
2014

Make it stop! (Or, even more gay marriage victories in IN, UT, CO and Mexico)

The love that dare not speak its name has become the Energizer Bunny of court victories. It keeps going and going.

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26
Jun
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

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.

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2013