LGBT rights in Panama
|LGBT rights in Panama|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal status||Legal since 2008|
|Gender identity/expression||Change of legal gender allowed, following sex reassignment surgery|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Panama may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Panama, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal benefits and protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
In March 2017, a lawsuit seeking to legalise same-sex marriage was filed before the Supreme Court. The lawsuit provoked a lot of discussion in Panamanian society, prompting many public figures to announce their support for LGBT rights and/or civil same-sex marriage, including the Vice President, the First Lady and the Attorney General.
Same-sex marriage is likely to soon become legal in Panama, per a 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling.
- 1 Legality of same-sex sexual activity
- 2 Discrimination protections
- 3 Recognition of same-sex relationships
- 4 Adoption and parenting
- 5 Gender identity and expression
- 6 LGBT rights movements in Panama
- 7 Public opinion
- 8 Summary table
- 9 See also
- 10 References
Legality of same-sex sexual activity
There are no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Article 39 of the Constitution forbids the creation of "companies, associations or foundations" that are contrary to moral or legal order. In the past this has been used to refuse registration of gay organisations.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
There is no recognition of same-sex couples. A proposal that would have allowed same-sex civil unions was defeated in 2004, mainly due to pressure on the Government from the Roman Catholic Church. In 2005, 12% of Panamanians supported same-sex marriage being recognized in the country.
On 15 April 2014, in the run-up to the 2014 presidential elections, five of the seven presidential candidates signed a document called the Pact of National Commitment for Life and Traditional Family. The document stated that "the country should guarantee freedom of religion and should modify the law to protect the traditional structure of the family, defined as the union of a man and a woman."
On 8 May 2014, the Code of Private International Law was approved, prohibiting same-sex marriage in Panama and clarifying that the country would not recognize marriages performed in other countries. Article 40 specified that "same-sex marriages are strictly prohibited in the country".
On 17 October 2016, a married same-sex couple filed an action of unconstitutionality seeking to recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad in the country. Magistrate Luis Ramón Fabrega was assigned to the case and had to decide whether to admit the case to the 9-member Supreme Court of Justice. In early November, the case was admitted to the Supreme Court. On 24 March 2017, an action of unconstitutionality against Article 26 of the Panamanian Civil Code was introduced to the Supreme Court, who agreed to hear the case. Article 26 specifies that marriage is between a man and a woman and as such bans same-sex marriage. The case seeks to legalize same-sex marriage in Panama. In June 2017, the Supreme Court united the two lawsuits.
On 14 April 2017, Vice President Isabel Saint Malo announced her support for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. In mid-May, Attorney General Rigoberto González issued a statement to the Supreme Court, asking it to legalise same-sex marriage. While admitting that same-sex marriage was a controversial issue in Panamanian society, González argued that his position was in line with the value of dignity for all human beings as well as the Panamanian Constitution. A few days later, the Catholic Church in Panama said they would not oppose the legalisation of same-sex marriage, as far as civil laws are concerned. In October 2017, one Supreme Court judge preliminarily published a draft ruling rejecting the same-sex marriage cases. The full Court subsequently, on 22 November, decided whether to reject or approve the draft ruling against same-sex marriage. The Court has yet to issue a ruling.
2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling
On 8 January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that the American Convention on Human Rights mandates and requires the recognition of same-sex marriage. The ruling was fully binding on Costa Rica and set binding precedent in other Latin American and Caribbean countries including Panama.
On 16 January, the Panamanian Government welcomed the decision. Vice President Isabel Saint Malo, speaking on behalf of the Government, announced that the country would fully abide by the ruling. Official notices, requiring compliance with the ruling, were sent out to various governmental departments that same day.
Adoption and parenting
Gender identity and expression
In May 2016, a 22-year-old Panamanian transgender woman was allowed to change her name, so that it matches her gender identity, without having undergone surgery. This was the first time a transgender person in Panama was able to change their name without first undergoing surgery.
In January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that requiring transgender people to undergo surgery to change their legal gender is against the American Convention on Human Rights.
LGBT rights movements in Panama
In 1996, Panama's first lesbian and gay organisation Asociación Hombres y Mujeres Nuevos de Panamá (AHMNP; "New Men and Women of Panama Association") was founded. It received legal recognition in 2005 after a three-year battle with the authorities and the Catholic Church.
In 2004, they presented a petition calling for partnership rights. In June 2005, Panama's first Gay Pride march was held with 100 AHMNP demonstrators. In May 2015, the second LGBT-rights organisation was formed in Panamá: Unión de la diversidad. In June 2016, a new foundation named "Convive Panama" started, strongly based on the mission, ideas and working methods of Unión de la diversidad. Convive Panama is currently in a legal battle over copyright infringement issues with Unión de la diversidad and are facing a discrimination lawsuit.. In 2017 'Fundación Iguales Panamá' a non-profit organization that promotes the observance, promotion and respect of human rights was created. Iguales have impacted public opinion towards the promotion of values of tolerance and inclusion for all, and in the frontline of defending LGBTIQ+ rights.
In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, a LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Panama was ranked 55th with a GHI score of 44.
According to a public survey conducted in April 2017, 78% of Panamanians oppose same-sex marriage.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Since 2008)|
|Equal age of consent||(Since 2008)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment||(Proposed)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services||(Proposed)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)||(Proposed)|
|Same-sex marriages||(Challenge admitted to the Supreme Court)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples||(Challenge admitted to the Supreme Court)|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples||(Challenge admitted to the Supreme Court)|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples||(Challenge admitted to the Supreme Court)|
|LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military||Has no military|
|Right to change legal gender||(Since 2006)|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- "Decreto Ejecutivo Nº 332 de 29 de julio de 2008" (PDF). Gaceta Oficial (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-08-07.
- "Gay sex becomes legal in Panama". Pinknews.co.uk. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- (in Spanish) Buscan que orientación sexual e identidad género sean reconocidos en Panamá
- Panama: Support Civil Union Proposal Now under Attack by the Catholic Church
- "Abortion Rejected by Nearly 90% of Panamanians, Same Sex 'Marriage' Rejected by 80%". Lifesitenews.com. 2005-05-25. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- Panama: Controversy Erupts over Gay Marriage Ban
- (in Spanish) Surge preocupación ante recurso para que se reconozca el matrimonio igualitario en Panamá
- (in Spanish) Buscan implementar matrimonio homosexual a través de la Corte
- (in Spanish) Corte Suprema de Justicia conocerá sobre matrimonios igualitarios
- (in Spanish) Llega a la Corte Suprema nuevo recurso para legalizar matrimonios de personas del mismo sexo
- (in Spanish) Panamá abre el compás al matrimonio gay
- Same-sex marriage could come to Panama if activists win legal fight
- (in Spanish) Acumulan en un solo expediente las dos demandas que piden legalizar el matrimonio igualitario
- (in Spanish) Canciller De Saint Malo, a favor del matrimonio gay
- (in Spanish) Posibilidad de matrimonio igualitario dispara alarmas en Panamá
- (in Spanish) Procurador González expresa su opinión a la Corte sobre unión entre homosexuales
- (in Spanish) La Iglesia Católica de Panamá a favor del matrimonio igualitario civil
- Report: Panama Supreme Court judge rules against same-sex marriage, The Washington Blade, 22 October 2017
- (in Spanish) Futuro del matrimonio igualitario en manos de los nueve magistrados de la CSJ
- "Inter-American Court endorses same-sex marriage". Agence France-Presse. Yahoo7. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
- "Panamá acoge a la opinión de Corte IDH sobre matrimonio gay". La Estrella de Panamá. 16 January 2018.
- "El Gobierno panameño acoge opinión de la CorteIDH sobre matrimonio homosexual". W Radio. 16 January 2018.
- Artificial Insemination in Panama
- REPRODUCTIVE LAWS IN PANAMA
- (in Spanish) Transexuales panameños tramitan cédulas de mujer
- (in Spanish) Por primera vez, una transexual logra en Panamá cambiar su nombre en la cédula
- "Unión de la diversidad".
- "Lawsuits Convive Panama".
- (in Spanish) Primera Dama será abanderada de la marcha del orgullo gay en Panamá
- Religion in Latin America Chapter 5: Social Attitudes
- Religion in Latin America Appendix A: Methodology
- The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo
- (in Spanish) Panamá discute la legalización del matrimonio gay: ¿será el primer país en aprobarlo en Centroamérica?
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