LGBT rights in Ecuador

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LGBT rights in Ecuador
Ecuador (orthographic projection).svg
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Yes
Gender identity/expression Yes
Military service Unknown
Discrimination protections Yes
Family rights
Recognition of
Civil Unions
Constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman
Adoption Same-sex couples may not adopt. Single persons not restricted

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Ecuador may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Ecuador, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all of the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Ecuador since 1997 when the Constitutional Tribunal, in Case No. 111-97-TC, overturned the first paragraph of Article 516 of the Penal Code, which criminalized sexual activities between persons of the same sex.[1]

The age of consent in Ecuador is 14, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.[2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Article 67 of the Ecuadorian Constitution adopted in 2009[3] limits marriage to the union of a man and a woman.[4] However, according to an unofficial English language translation of Article 68 the article provides that same-sex couples in stable and monogamous unions enjoy the same rights and obligations of married couples.

The stable and monogamous union between two persons without any other marriage ties who have a common-law home, for the lapse of time and under the conditions and circumstances provided for by law, shall enjoy the same rights and obligations of those families bound by formal marriage ties.[4][Note 1]

Based on Article 68, civil unions for same-sex couples are legal in Ecuador.[5][6]

In August 2014, President Rafael Correa signed a resolution to allow same-sex de facto couples to register their unions and in addition the recognition of the marital status. It also establishes to register domestic partnerships as a complementary data to marital status and create a special registry for these unions.[7] The order took effect on September 15.[8]

In April 2015, the National Assembly approved an amendment to the Civil Code that allows same-sex couples to register their de facto unions, deleting the requirement of evidence of cohabitation for at least two years.[9]

Adoption of children[edit]

Article 68 of the Ecuador Constitution states, "La adopción corresponderá sólo a parejas de distinto sexo."[10] An unofficial English language translation of this provision states, "Adoption shall only be permitted for different-gender couples."[4] The constitution is silent about adoptions by single individuals.

Under Ecuadorean statutory law, however, a single person is allowed to adopt a child, although a legally constituted heterosexual couple has priority over the single person.[Note 2]

Gender identity/expression[edit]

A Gender Identity Law, approved in 2016, allows Ecuadorians to state their gender identity instead of the sex assigned at birth. The law distributes new legal ID cards to those wishing to change their gender and birth name.[11][12][13]

Discrimination protections[edit]

In 1998, Ecuador became the first country in the Americas (and only the third worldwide) to include sexual orientation as a protected category in its constitution.[1]

Ecuador includes both sexual orientation and gender identity in its constitutional prohibition against discrimination. An unofficial English language translation of Article 11(2) states,

All persons are equal and shall enjoy the same rights, duties and opportunities. No one shall be discriminated against for reasons of ethnic belonging, place of birth, age, sex, gender identity, cultural identity, civil status, language, religion, ideology, political affiliation, legal record, socio-economic condition, migratory status, sexual orientation, health status, HIV carrier, disability, physical difference or any other distinguishing feature, whether personal or collective, temporary or permanent, which might be aimed at or result in the diminishment or annulment of recognition, enjoyment or exercise of rights. All forms of discrimination are punishable by law. The State shall adopt affirmative action measures that promote real equality for the benefit of the rights-bearers who are in a situation of inequality.[4]

In 2015, a labor reform made it illegal for employers to discriminate against people due to their sexual orientation.[14][15]

Living conditions[edit]

LGBTI Pride Parade in Guayaquil (2013).

A fairly large gay scene has developed in Quito and Guayaquil.[16] The first gay pride in Ecuador took place in Quito, in 1998, following the Constitutional Court ruling that overturned the law that prohibited sexual acts between people of the same sex.[17] Nevertheless, Ecuador has a conservative and macho culture, and homosexuality continues to be viewed negatively by society.[16]

Since the last decade, many gay-pride marches have been organized in all major cities, with the authorization of authorities and police protection, in addition to their participation. In Guayaquil's gay-pride march of 2011, for instance, among those present were the province's vice-prefect Luzmila Nicolaide, city council member Gino Molinari, and National Assambleist Gina Godoy, while the police band played traditional songs.[18][19]

There have also been LGBT film festivals organized in the major cities.[20]

In 2012, President Rafael Correa appointed Carina Vance Mafla, a lesbian activist, as the country's Health Minister.[21]

The U.S. Department of State's 2011 Human Rights Report found that,

The constitution includes the principle of nondiscrimination and establishes choice of sexual orientation as a right. Although the law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gay, lesbian, and transgender persons continued to suffer discrimination from both public and private bodies. LGBT organizations reported that transgender persons suffered more discrimination because they were more visible. LGBT groups claimed that police and prosecutors did not thoroughly investigate deaths of LGBT individuals, including when there was suspicion that the killing was because of sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT organizations and credible media sources reported that LGBT persons were interned against their will in private treatment centers to "cure" or "dehomosexualize" them, although such treatment is illegal. The clinics reportedly used cruel treatments, including rape, in an attempt to change LGBT persons' sexual orientation. In August[,] the government reported that it closed 30 such centers, but LGBT organizations reported that other illegal clinics continued to operate. Members of the LGBT community continued to report that their right of equal access to formal education was frequently violated. The LGBT population involved in the commercial sex trade reported abusive situations, extortion, and mistreatment by security forces.[22]

Gay-to-straight conversion clinics[edit]

In November 2011, an Ecuadorean activist group, called Fundación Causana, began a petition on to entreat the Ecuadorean minister of health to close down more than 200 "ex-gay clinics". The group claimed that the clinics abuse and torture patients in an effort to "cure homosexuality".

The clinics primarily targeted lesbians[23] and operated under the guise of being drug rehabilitation centers.[24] At least one pair of parents discovered the abuse and asked for the clinic to release their daughter, Paola Ziritti, but were denied. Ziritti was eventually released after two years of confinement and was the first to press a formal complaint against the clinics.[24]

Activists consequently called on the government to close down the clinics, but as of August 2011, only 27 had been closed while a reported 207 clinics remained open.[25]

On 23 January 2012, the petition was closed and marked as a success with 113,761 international signatures. The petition also was updated with a statement from Fundacion Causana reading,

After ten years of outcry, the nation of Ecuador - through the Ministry of Public Health - has entered into a commitment with civic organizations and society in general to deconstruct the belief that homosexuality is an illness and root out the use of torture in these clinics. We extend our thanks to all the men and women who signed our petition. It has been invaluable to have this support in starting to change this reality.

Carina Vance Mafla's ministry of health shortly thereafter raided three clinics in the vicinity of Quito and rescued dozens of women.[26]

2013 election homophobic remarks[edit]

After the 2013 Ecuadorian general election, Nelson Zavala, an evangelical preacher and the presidential candidate who finished last out of eight candidates, was sentenced by an election court to pay more than $3,000 in fines for his homophobic remarks. The court also prohibited him for a year from standing as a candidate or from affiliating himself or being involved with a political party or movement. During the campaign, he called gay people "sinners" and "immoral" and said they suffered from "severe deviation of conduct". LGBT activists applauded the ruling as a "landmark".[27][28] Zavala appealed the verdict, but the ruling was ratified in the last instance on 19 March 2013.[29]

LGBTI candidacy[edit]

Historic Meeting with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, led by Diane Rodriguez

In the 2013 elections, the LGBTI activist Diane Marie Rodriguez Zambrano of Silueta X Association, became the first openly transgender candidate to run for public office.[30][31][32] At the conclusion of her candidacy, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Delgado declared his respect and admiration for Rodriquez on Twitter.[33][34][35] Months later, Rodriguez was invited to change the Presidential Guard.[36] In December 2013, she led the first group LGBTI meeting with President Rafael Correa.[37] The meeting concluded with several agreements.[38]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (since 1997)
Equal age of consent Yes (since 1997)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (since 2015)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (since 1997)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (since 1997)
Same-sex marriages No (Constitutional ban since 2009)
Fundamental right to Gender Identity Yes (since 2008)
Fundamental right to sexual orientation Yes (since 2008)
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (since 2009)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Emblem-question.svg[39]
Right to change legal gender (legal precedent) Yes (since 2009)
Gender identity recognition in identity card Yes (since 2016)[13]
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood Emblem-question.svg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In Spanish, the official version of Article 68 reads as follows:

    La unión estable y monogámica entre dos personas libres de vínculo matrimonial que formen un hogar de hecho, por el lapso y bajo las condiciones y circunstancias que señale la ley, generará los mismos derechos y obligaciones que tienen las familias constituidas mediante matrimonio. Article 68, Constitución de la República del Ecuador

  2. ^ In Spanish, the official version of the statute reads as follows: "Se priorizará la adopción por parte de parejas heterosexuales constituidas legalmente, sobre la adopción por parte de personas solas...." Article 153(3), Código de la Niñez y Adolescencia de Ecuador, retrieved 26 January 2013


  1. ^ a b "Shutting Down Clinics that 'Cure Homosexuality' in Ecuador", The Human Rights Brief, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, reported by Christina Fetterhoff, 28 November 2011, retrieved 23 January 2013
  3. ^ "Voters in Ecuador Approve Constitution", Washington Post, reported by Joshua Partlow and Stephan Küffner, 29 September 2008
  4. ^ a b c d Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, Political Database of the Americas, 31 January 2011
  5. ^ (Spanish) "Apoyo al matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo en América Latina", Perspectivas desde el Barómetro de las Américas, authored by Germán Lodola and Margarita Corral, 2010 (No. 44), retrieved 23 January 2013
  6. ^ "Ecuador Approves New Constitution Including Same-Sex Civil Unions", Towleroad, posted by Andy Towle, 30 September 2008, retrieved 23 January 2013
  7. ^ Civil, Registro. "REGISTRO DE UNIONES DE HECHO". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Desde el 15 de septiembre se reconocerán las uniones de hecho como un estado civil - ANDES". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  9. ^ Ecuador reconoce la Unión de Hecho Homosexual como un estado civil
  10. ^ (Spanish) Article 68, Constitución de la República del Ecuador
  11. ^ "Ecuadorean Lawmakers Approve New Gender Identity Law". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "Change of 'gender' in identity card will require two witnesses - - Breaking News, Ecuador News, World, Sports, Entertainment". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Ecuador Makes Important Strides for LGBTI People". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  16. ^ a b "Gay Ecuador". Gay Guide. Gay Times. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  17. ^ (Spanish) El Universo El GLBTI, colectivo que gana espacios. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  18. ^ (Spanish)"Comunidad Glbti del Ecuador celebró Día del Orgullo Gay", El Universo, reported by Alexandra Avila, 2 July 2011
  19. ^ (Spanish)"Desfile del orgullo 2011 en Guayaquil", Gay Ecuador
  20. ^ (Spanish)"Es Ecuador sede de festival de cine LGBT en Latinoamérica", Inthecloset, 12 October 2011
  21. ^ "Ecuador: Lesbian Activist Appointed to Presidential Cabinet", The Advocate, reported by Michelle Garcia, 24 January 2012
  22. ^ 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ecuador, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, page 25
  23. ^ "Lesbian Torture Clinics in Ecuador- Claiming to "Cure" Them". Hispanically Speaking News. Hispanically Speaking News. 5 November 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "Why 200 Lesbian Torture Clinics Are Still Operating in Ecuador". The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  25. ^ "Lesbians Escape From Ecuador's "Ex-Gay" Torture Centers". The Advocate. The Advocate. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  26. ^ "Rights groups hail Ecuador's crackdown on lesbian 'torture clinics'". MSNBC. 25 January 2012. 
  27. ^ "Ecuador preacher sentenced for homophobic comments", BBC News, 11 March 2013
  28. ^ "Ecuadorian Ex Presidential Candidate And Preacher, Nelson Zavala, Penalized For Homophobic Comments", The Huffington Post, 12 March 2013
  29. ^ (Spanish)"TCE ratifica sentencia contra excandidato presidencial Nelson Zavala", El Universo, 19 March 2013
  30. ^ First Transgender Candidate in Ecuador Ecuavisa - Televistazo . Retrieved 17 September 2013
  31. ^ Diario El Comercio - In Spanish Breaking drives transgender candidate. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  32. ^ Extra Journal - In Spanish, Exceeded the discrimination and now struggle for social inclusion! Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  33. ^ Twitter President Ecuador, Rafael Correa - In Spanish, "@DianeRodriguezZ Estimada Diane: sólo quería decirle que la admiro y respeto profundamente, aunque no comparta todos sus postulados." Retrieved on 8 May 2014.
  34. ^ Social Promises - In Spanish, Retrieved on 8 May 2014.
  35. ^ Diario el Comercio - In Spanish, "Gays have a place for meetings". Retrieved on 8 May 2014.
  36. ^ Gender Studies Network - In Spanish President Rafael Correa invites presidential change of guard Transexual activist Diane Rodriguez. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  37. ^ Agency Los Andes, Historic meeting between the President of Ecuador and the GLBTI community to allow moving forward in claiming rights. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  38. ^ Journal Universo - In Spanish, 15 murders of GLBTI investigate the government. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  39. ^