Two Wins in Mexico’s Fight to Extend LGBTQ Equality

Despite the continuing fight for marriage equality, Mexico has been at the forefront of advancing rights for its LGBTQ citizens, and in many ways it is/has been more progressive in this endeavor than the United States. Sodomy laws were decriminalized in Mexico in 1871 and there have been nationwide anti-discrimination laws in place since 2003, covering areas such as employment, hate speech, and in securing goods and services. MSMs (Men who have sex with men) have been allowed to donate blood since 2012, and LGBTQ folks are allowed to openly serve in the military, adopt, and form civil unions. The United States has nationwide same-sex marriage and this is the only area where the US is further ahead than Mexico: in 2015, Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice ordered that all states recognize same-sex marriage, but not all states do.

In order for LGBTQ folks living in Mexico to obtain their federally-given right, they can request a recurso de amparo, which is a type of appeal filed due to a constitutionally-given right being violated. This process does not result in overturns of state bans on same-sex marriage, but as the court’s 2015 ruling overrules state law, the individuals will be granted a marriage license. Another couple wishing to get married in the same state will have to go through the same process. So what happens if there is a Mexican couple living abroad together?

In May, a couple living abroad in New York were denied a license when they visited the Consulate of Mexico, as the Foreign Affairs Ministry argued that they could travel to Mexico City and receive a license there. On October 19th, a Mexican civil court ruled that a same-sex couple must be granted a marriage license. The implications for future marriage wins are huge, as there are 12 million Mexican citizens living outside of the country, most in the United States. The consulate denied granting the license on the grounds that the Mexican Federal Civil Code does not permit same-sex marriage. This couple is potentially the first living abroad to be granted a marriage license. They will be the first to get married in a consulate, setting a precedent.

On the heels of this progress, the Senate of Mexico passed a new reform: same-sex couples can now receive the same social security benefits that opposite-sex couples do. This change was part of a larger reform aimed at removing homophobic and sexist language from the country’s social welfare laws. Indicative of the support LGBTQ folks in Mexico receive is the recently-elected President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who stated that “all people are deserving to be free from humiliation.” The Senate passed the law with a majority of the chamber in support, coming to them from the Chamber of Deputies after it attained a majority of support there as well.

The successful court case and recent legislation pave the way for further progressive action on LGBTQ rights in Mexico, a country that is already a leader in this area.

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