Recognition of same-sex unions in South America

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Recognition of same-sex unions in South America
  Same-sex marriage
  Other type of partnership
  Unrecognized or unknown
  Same-sex marriage banned
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal

Legal status of
same-sex relationships
Previously performed and not invalidated
  1. Can be registered also in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
  2. Licensed in some counties in Kansas but same-sex marriage is not recognized by the state
  3. Only legal in St. Louis, Missouri
  4. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage

*Not yet in effect

LGBT portal

Debate has occurred throughout South America over proposals to legalize same-sex marriage as well as civil unions.

Currently 5 of the 12 sovereign countries in South America recognize some type of same-sex unions. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. An additional two countries have a form of civil union or registered partnership, namely Colombia and Ecuador.

Sex between women is legal in the entire region, while sex between men is illegal only in Guyana,[1] not to be confused with French Guiana.

Current situation[edit]

National level[edit]

Status Country Legal since Country population
(Last Census estimate 2012)
(3 countries)
Argentina Argentina 2010 42,192,500
Brazil Brazil 2013 201,032,714
Uruguay Uruguay 2013 3,368,595
Subtotal 246,593,809
(60.7% of the South American population)
Other type of partnership
(2 countries)
Colombia Colombia 2007 47,121,089
Ecuador Ecuador 2009 15,761,731
Subtotal 62,882,820
(15.5% of the South American population)
Total 309,476,629
(76.2% of the South American population)
No recognition
(7 countries)
Bolivia Bolivia 10,027,254
Chile Chile 16,634,603
Guyana Guyana 784,894
Paraguay Paraguay 6,672,633
Peru Peru 30,475,144
Suriname Suriname 543,000
Venezuela Venezuela 31,648,930
Total 96,786,458
(23.8% of the South American population)

Sub-national level[edit]

Status State/Territory Country Legal since
(1 jurisdiction)
French Guiana France France 2013
Other type of partnership
(1 jurisdiction)
Mérida Venezuela Venezuela 2010
No recognition
(1 jurisdiction)
Falkland Islands Falkland Islands United Kingdom British overseas territory



In 2004, the first case of recognition of same-sex unions in Brazil occurred when a binational Englishman and a Brazilian registered their de facto union. This legal precedent encouraged other couples in the country to do the same.[2]

On 5 May 2011, Brazil's Supreme Federal Court ruled that civil unions for same-sex couples had to be allowed throughout the country. The ruling resulted in stable partnerships for gays and lesbians, having the same financial and social rights enjoyed by those in heterosexual relationships.[3] It also created a legal foundation for same-sex matrimonial rights, as opposite-sex civil unions could be converted into full marriages. In the following two years, the jurisdictions of Alagoas,[4] Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Federal District, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraíba, Paraná, Piauí, Rondônia, Santa Catarina, Santa Rita do Sapucaí, São Paulo, and Sergipe legalized same-sex marriage, while Rio de Janeiro allowed local judges to perform same-sex marriages if they agreed to do so.[5] Other states all recognized the marriages, and had registered marriages on a case-by-case basis.

Nevertheless on May 14, 2013, The Justice's National Council of Brazil legalized same-sex marriage in the entire country in a 14-1 vote by issuing a ruling that ordered all civil registers of the country to perform same-sex marriages and convert any existing civil unions into marriages if such a couple desires.[6][7]


On 7 February 2007, the Constitutional Court of Colombia extended several common-law marriage property and pension rights to same-sex couples, the first rights and recognition that same-sex unions received in the country.[8][9] Subsequent rulings by the Constitutional Court expanded the rights to which same-sex couples could apply. In October 2007 it extended social security and health insurance rights to them.[10] On 28 January 2009, it modified 20 laws to give them 42 more rights (including nationality, residence permits, testimony when in jury, family-properties laws, etc.).[11][12] A final ruling, on 13 April 2011, granted them inheritance rights.[13]

On 26 July 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled that it couldn't change the current definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but also that same-sex couples have the right to form a family and ordered the Colombian Congress to pass legislation addressing this issue within a two years deadline (by June 20, 2013). If such a law is not passed until then, same-sex couples will be automatically able to register their relationship with the same solemnity as heterosexual couples do through marriage.[14][15] Prior to the Court decision, legislation intending to regulate same-sex relationships had failed six times in Congress.[13]


During the debate over the 2008 Ecuadorian new constitution, LGBT organizations campaigned for the inclusion of same-sex unions in it.[16][17] Civil unions for same-sex couples were included in Article 68 of the final draft of the constitution.[18] Under the text of the new constitution the only significant difference between same-sex and opposite-sex unions was that adoption by same-sex couples was not allowed.[19] President Rafael Correa openly stated his support for the inclusion of same-sex unions in the text."[20][21] On 28 September 2008, the constitution was passed in referendum by 69.46% of approval, thus legalizing same-sex civil unions.[22] Article 68 of the constitution reads: "The stable and monogamous union between two persons, free of matrimonial bond, who form a de facto couple, since the time and under the conditions and circumstancies that the law provides, will generate the same rights and obligations that families, build through marriage, are holding. Adoption will only correspond to couples of different sexes."[19]


On 1 January 1, 2008, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to have a national civil unions law.[23] The bill was passed by both chambers of Congress on December 19, 2007[24] and signed into law by president Tabaré Vázquez on December 27.[25] The bill granted most of the benefits that married couples were afforded, including social security entitlements, inheritance rights and joint ownership of goods and property.[26] On September 2009 a bill which sought to extend adoption rights for same-sex couples was given final approval in Congress. Thus, Uruguay became the first country in South America where same-sex couples could jointly adopt.[27]

In April 2011, Sebastián Sabini, a legislator from one of the parties of the ruling Broad Front, presented a bill to legalize same-sex marriage,[28] which was one of the Broad Front's 2009 election promises.[29] On December 12, the Chamber of Deputies approved the bill by 81 out of the 87 MPs present and sent it to the Senate.[30] The Senate approved the bill with some minor amendments on 2 April 2013, in a 23-8 vote.[31][32] On 10 April 2013, the Chamber of Deputies gave final approval to the amended version of the bill in a 71-21 vote. On May 3, it was signed by President José Mujica. It took effect on August 5, 2013.[33][34]

Future legislation[edit]


On 7 January 2014, the Senate voted 28–6 in favor of a civil union bill called Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja, pushed by then-President Piñera.[35] The bill was however not voted on by the Chamber of Deputies before the end of the parliamentary session in March 2014, despite it being a priority issue for Piñera. When Bachelet took office in March 2014, she made passing Piñera's civil union bill a priority issue as well.[36] Legalising same-sex marriage remains a longer-term goal of Bachelet's administration, which she promised to push during her election campaign.[37] On 5 August 2014, a Senate committee approved the civil unions bill.[38] On 7 October 2014, the bill moved out of the Senate and is now scheduled for a final vote in the Chamber Of Deputies within the coming weeks.[39] On 10 December 2014, a group of senators from various parties joined LGBT rights group MOVILH in presenting a bill to allow same-sex marriage and adoption to Congress. MOVILH has been in talks with the Chilean government to seek an amiable solution to the pending marriage lawsuit brought against the state before the Inter American Court of Human Rights. MOVILH has suggested that they would drop the case if Bachelet's Congress were to keep their word and legislate same-sex marriage.[40]


Following the 26 July 2011 ruling by the Constitutional Court, Senator Armando Benedetti introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. However, the two biggest parties made a commitment to kill the bill. It was rejected in a 17-51 vote on 24 April 2013.[41] As the bill's rejection was seen as imminent even before the vote, the country's Notaries Association presented guidelines for notaries and judges to fulfill the Constitutional Court's ruling. The proposal calls the unions of same-sex couples "marital unions",[42] another proposal, presented by Superintendent Jorge Enrique Vélez, calls them "solemn contracts".[43]


Further information: LGBT rights in Peru

On 26 July 2010, Deputy José Vargas of the ruling party Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana announced that he would introduce a bill legalizing civil unions[44][45] but in early 2011 the bill died in the Justice Committee because some of its members believed it would be necessary to change the constitution in order to approve the law.[46]

Months prior to the 2011 Peruvian general election, two of the main candidates for president, Keiko Fujimori and Alejandro Toledo, showed their support to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples[47][48] but neither of them won. The winner of the election, Ollanta Humala, has stated that he opposes legal recognition for same-sex couples.[49] On April 2014, legislator Carlos Bruce received a petition signed by 10 thousand people in favor of allowing civil unions for gay couples.[50] Bruce, who put forward the change in the law in September last year, hopes that it will alleviate the discrimination faced by gay Peruvians.

The bill was scheduled to be debated on April 7 in front of the Commission of Justice and Human Rights, but ultimately was postponed until after Easter. While the country has a history of rejecting bills that protect gay people, supporters and allies are hopeful that the Peruvian Congress will move forward with the bill.[51] In June of 2014, bills taking on different forms of recognition, some with more rights than others, were discussed in Congress. After a dramatic debate, it was decided by politician Carlos Bruce, who had earlier announced to the public that he was gay, that the original Civil Union bill he submitted with more rights should be voted on separately from other proposals. More than one bill allowing for recognition of same-sex relationships will be discussed in the next parliamentary session which begins in August.[52]

Public opinion[edit]

Public support for same-sex marriage varies from country to country. Polls have found support to be higher between younger people, women, city inhabitants and people with a higher education level.[53] A series of polls conducted in 2012 by Vanderbilt University throughout Latin America found the following levels of support for same-sex marriage:[54]

Other polls[edit]

  • Argentina: A November 2009 poll conducted in the six biggest cities of Argentina found support for same-sex marriage at 63.3%, opposition was at 23.1%[55]
  • Brazil: A July 2012 nation-wide poll revealed that 50% of Brazilians were in favor of the Supreme Court decision that expanded civil unions to same-sex couples. Women, younger people and Catholics were more in favor of gay marriage then the rest of the country.[56] Another poll released in March 2013 showed that 47% of the population was in favor of same-sex marriage, while 57% of Brazilians were in favor of same-sex couples adopting children.[57]
  • Chile: A July 2011 nation-wide poll found that 52% of Chileans were in favor of granting legal rights to same-sex unions: 18% supported granting civil marriage to gay couples, while 34% preferred giving same-sex couples a "legal union".[58]
  • Colombia: A poll conducted between December 2009 and January 2010 in Colombia's capital, Bogota, showed that 63% of the city's population was in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage while 36% was against it.[59]
  • Paraguay: A poll conducted by a Christian Newspaper after the approval of same-sex marriage legislation in Argentina showed support for same-marriage at 10% and opposition at 76%.[60]
  • Peru: In August 2010, a poll revealed 21.3% of Peruvians approved same-sex marriage, 71.5% were against it. Support in younger people was higher at 31.9%[61]
  • Uruguay: A nation-wide poll conducted in November 2011 found support for same-sex marriage at 52%, while only 32% of the population was against it.[62]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ottosson, Daniel (May 2012). "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults". International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  2. ^ "Primeiro casal gay a registrar união no país completa 20 anos". Journal Comunicacao (in Portuguese). 18 April 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Casais gays conquistam 112 direitos com decisão do STF" (in Portuguese). 6 May 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Brazil’s most populous state to allow same-sex marriage". Washington Blade. 21 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Rio de Janeiro state legalizes gay marriage". 17 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.  According to the ruling (25/2013), a couples' request should be registered by civil registry officers, who have to give 15 days for the district to decide if they agree. If they do not agree, the marriage could not proceed.
  6. ^ Decisão do CNJ obriga cartórios a fazer casamento homossexual
  7. ^ Romero, Simon (May 14, 2013). "Brazilian Court Council Removes a Barrier to Same-Sex Marriage". New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ (Spanish) EL TIEMPO - Corte da primer derecho a parejas gays
  9. ^ "Rights for Colombia gay couples". BBC News. 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  10. ^ Colombian court rules in favour of equal rights for gay couples, Pink News, 6 October 2007
  11. ^ Decision C-029 of 2009
  12. ^ (Spanish) 42 disposiciones modificó la Corte Constitucional para amparar derechos de las parejas gay,El Tiempo, 2009-01-29. Retrieved on July 02, 2009
  13. ^ a b (Spanish) El Tiempo. Corte explica por qué matrimonio homosexual es decisión del Congreso. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  14. ^ DECISION C-577/11 The homosexuals have the right to form a family
  15. ^ "Colombian court says Congress must decide on gay marriage". CNN. 2011-07-27. 
  16. ^ (Spanish) El Universo. “Los gays nos manejamos como familia”. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  17. ^ (Spanish) El Universo. Uniones homosexuales en el país son un hecho aun sin ley. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  18. ^ (Spanish) Nueva Constitución reconoce unión gay y lésbica Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  20. ^ Materville Studios – Host of Windy City Times. "Ecuadorean president supports same-sex partnerships". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  21. ^ (Spanish) Presidente Correa: Ecuador es un estado laico que debe respetar todas las creencias. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  22. ^ "Ecuador's new constitution goes into effect". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  23. ^ (Spanish) Ley Nş 18.246 UNIÓN CONCUBINARIA
  24. ^ Uruguay approves gay civil unions. BBC News (December 19, 2007). Retrieved on December 4, 2011.
  25. ^ Writer, Staff. (December 28, 2007) Uruguay's President grants legal rights for gay couples. Retrieved on December 4, 2011.
  26. ^ (Spanish) Preguntas frecuentes sobre Unión Concubinaria
  27. ^ Uruguay allows same-sex adoption. BBC News (September 9, 2009). Retrieved on December 4, 2011.
  28. ^ (Spanish) Uruguay: el Frente Amplio impulsa el matrimonio igualitario
  29. ^ (Spanish) Ahora Uruguay va por el matrimonio gay
  30. ^ (Spanish) Uruguay aprueba el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo
  31. ^ Uruguay's senate approves same-sex marriage bill
  32. ^ (Spanish) Senado aprobó ley de matrimonio igualitario: 23 a favor, 8 en contra
  34. ^ (Spanish) Desde el 1° de agosto se podrán celebrar matrimonios gay. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  35. ^ "Chile civil unions bill advances". Washington Blade. 2014-01-07. 
  36. ^ "Government announces priority for same-sex civil unions and tax reform". Santiago Times. March 17, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Ministro Gómez abre discusión sobre matrimonio homosexual". 24horas. 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  38. ^ "Chilean Senate committee approves civil unions bill". Washington Blade. 5 August 2014. 
  39. ^ [1]
  40. ^ "El proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario llega al Parlamento de Chile". Cáscara Amarga. 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  41. ^ Colombia lawmakers reject controversial gay marriage bill
  42. ^ (Spanish) Plantean llamar 'vínculo marital' a la unión de parejas homosexuales. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  43. ^ (Spanish) El Espectador. Notarios no podrán argumentar objeción de conciencia en uniones homosexuales. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  44. ^ (Spanish) Vargas afirma que uniones de hecho entre parejas del mismo sexo son "un derecho humano"
  45. ^ (Spanish) Legislador peruano anuncia proyecto para legalizar uniones homosexuales
  46. ^ (Spanish) Comisión de Justicia discutió la unión civil entre homosexuales
  47. ^ (Spanish) Toledo hizo polémicas declaraciones sobre consumo de drogas y aborto
  48. ^ (Spanish) Keiko difiere con Kenji sobre adopción de niños por parejas homosexuales
  49. ^ (Spanish) Perú: aspirante izquierdista Ollanta Humala se suma a rechazo de iglesia a bodas gay
  50. ^ 10 thousand sign petition in favor of civil union for gay couples, Peru this Week, 2 April 2014
  51. ^ "Peru Compiles Signatures For LGBT Civil Unions". HuffPost. 2014-04-10. 
  52. ^ (Spanish) La unión civil y unión solidaria volverán a debatirse en agosto en Perú
  53. ^ Vanderbildt University. Support for Same‐Sex Marriage in Latin America. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  54. ^ Data can be obtained in this link.
  55. ^ Most Argentineans Support Same-Sex Marriage
  56. ^ (Portuguese) Evolução: 50% da população brasileira aprova o casamento gay, diz pesquisa
  57. ^ Quase 60% dos brasileiros são a favor de adoção de crianças por gays
  58. ^ "Estudio Nacional de Opinión Pública, Junio-Julio 2011. Tema especial: Educación". Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  59. ^ (Spanish) Los habitantes de Bogotá aprueban el matrimonio homosexual, según encuesta
  60. ^ Paraguay: Encuesta revela que solo el 10% de la población está a favor del matrimonio homosexual
  61. ^ (Spanish) ESTUDIO DE OPINIÓN PÚBLICA A NIVEL PERÚ URBANO - Informe de resultados - (5 al 9 de agosto de 2010)
  62. ^ Más de la mitad de los uruguayos está a favor de la autorización del matrimonio homosexual