LGBT rights in Panama

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LGBT rights in Panama
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2008
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Recognition of

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 is legal in Panama. 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.


Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Panama as of 2008.[1][2] The age of consent is equal at 18.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

There is no recognition of same-sex couples. A proposal that would have provided for same-sex civil unions was defeated in 2004, mainly due to pressure on the government from the Catholic Church.[3] 12% of Panamanians support same-sex marriage being recognized in the country.[4]

Legal protections[edit]

There are no laws protecting gays 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.

LGBT rights movement in Panama[edit]

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. It is still the only gay and lesbian organisation in Panama.

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[5].

Public opinion[edit]

According to Pew Research Center survey, conducted between November 13 and December 8, 2013, 23% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, 72% were opposed.[6][7]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2008)
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
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 Has no military
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 2006)
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]