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By Elise Ellsworth

On January 8, 2018 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex marriages should be recognized.  This landmark ruling is binding precedent in Costa Rica and could do the same for other signatory countries, including Chile, Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, and Peru.

The judges in this case ordered that governments “guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination.”

Judges also ruled that governments should allow for a fast and easy process of changing name and gender identity on official documents.

However, states must each individually apply the ruling before it takes effect. Will they apply the ruling, or ignore it?  This is a tougher question.

The ruling comes at a time that a number of Latin American countries are debating changes to same-sex marriage laws.  For instance, despite protest, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet sent a bill to congress that would legalize same-sex marriage.  Chile would join a number of other countries already legalizing same-sex marriage in the Americas.  Advocates for these changes are gaining momentum and making their voices heard.

However, there has also been a strong backlash against government programs designed to promote gay marriage or gender identity education.  The slogan “No one messes with my kids” has become a catchphrase for a movement which believes that gender ideology should not be imposed on children. Despite the ever mounting pressure, there are still individuals and groups that advocate for traditional families and morals that grow healthier children, physically, emotionally, mentally, and economically.

No one is sure what will happen next.  Will there be a backlash from conservatives?  Will many countries quietly adopt the new measure?  2018 appears to be a year where Latin America will be at the forefront in making decisions about same-sex marriage laws.


Image credit :  IACtHR

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