Recognition of same-sex unions in El Salvador

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Legal status of same-sex unions
  1. Marriages performed in some municipalities and recognized by the state
  2. For some purposes only
  3. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  4. When performed in the Netherlands proper

* Not yet in effect

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El Salvador recognizes neither same-sex marriage, civil unions, or any other legally recognized union for same-sex couples. A proposal to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption was rejected twice in 2006, and once again in April 2009 after the FMLN refused to grant the measure the four votes it needed to be ratified.[1]


Enablement of same-sex unions[edit]

While the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front has consistently opposed attempts to amend the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, citing their belief that such laws are discriminatory, the party has stated that it has no intention to legalize same-sex marriage.

Legal challenges[edit]

In August 2016, a lawyer in El Salvador filed a lawsuit before the country's Supreme Court asking for the nullification of Article 11 of the Family Code which defines marriage as a heterosexual union. Labeling the law as discriminatory and explaining the lack of gendered terms used in Article 34 of the Constitution’s summary of a marriage, the lawsuit seeks to allow same-sex couples the right to wed.[2][3] On 20 December, the Salvadoran Constitutional Court rejected the lawsuit, claiming "it incurs an error to not detail the interpretation it gives to the constitutional provisions by which it supposedly establishes the obligation to regulate homosexual relations."[4]

On 11 November 2016, a second lawsuit against the same-sex marriage ban was filed.[5]

Constitutional attempts to ban same-sex marriage[edit]

In 2006, a constitutional amendment was proposed banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage and would also ban gay people from being parents. The measure was backed by the conservative Christian Democratic Party, the then president and several other parties; i.e. Democratic Change, the Front for Democratic Revolution and the National Conciliation Party.[6] But was opposed, and thus defeated, by the FMLN. It failed to win enough votes to be formally ratified due to the FMLN legislators.

On 30 April 2009, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador approved a last-minute constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex couples marrying by defining marriage as being between only "a man and a woman" and barring them from adopting children. Opposing civil rights groups vowed to fight the measure, which still needed to be voted on by other branches of the Government before becoming law.[7] The amendment eventually failed the same month.

On 25 April 2012, a same-sex marriage and adoption ban was introduced. The measure eventually failed on 8 February 2014 after only receiving 19 votes in favor of its ratification.[8]

On 17 April 2015, a constitutional amendment to ban on same-sex marriage and adoption was approved once again in the Assembly during its first reading with 47 votes in favor. To be successfully included in the country's Constitution, the law must now be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly, or 56 of its 84 members.[9] In November 2016, following a lawyer's constitutional challenge against the country's statutory same-sex marriage ban (see above), some conservative MPs renewed their effort to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage.[10]

Public opinion[edit]

According to a 2008 poll, 14% of Salvadorans support same-sex marriage, while 80% were opposed and 6% were undecided.[11]

A 2010 poll revealed that El Salvador has some of the lowest support for legalizing same-sex marriage in Latin America at 10%[12]

According to Pew Research Center survey, conducted between November 9 and December 17, 2013, 11% of Salvadorans supported same-sex marriage, 81% were opposed.[13][14]

See also[edit]