A court has just ordered 16 countries to make same-sex marriage legal.
In one of these countries, Barbados, gay sex is still criminalized.
This order, by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, is being considered the ‘biggest same-sex marriage court order in history’.
‘Biggest marriage equality court order in history’
Not only that, but the IACHR also ruled its countries must allow trans people to legally change their gender without prior surgery.
In Haiti, trans people can be fined for ‘vagrancy’.
The panel of seven judges stated the countries it oversees, mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean, that same-sex couples must be treated ‘without discrimination’.
Governments ‘must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex,’ the judges said.
They added it was necessary to ‘guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage.’
The judges explained this would allow ‘the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples.’
How does the order affect these countries?
IACHR oversees 20 countries: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala.
They also rule over laws in Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Uruguay.
Marriage equality has already passed in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and in many states in Mexico.
Chile and Ecuador has civil unions.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Paraguay have already passed laws to allow trans people to change their gender without surgery.
This means 11 countries must pass trans rights laws.
Costa Rica helped to change the world
The IACHR judges issued the ruling in response to a motion brought by Costa Rica.
The Central American government had asked the court to give its opinion on whether it bring to legal recognition for same-sex couples and whether it should allow trans people to change their name on identity documents. The court said it should in both counts.
Costa Rica’s Vice-President Ana Helena Chacón welcomed the court’s ruling, saying it would be adopted ‘in its totality’.
IACHR covers three countries, Dominica, Granada and Jamaica, that do not submit to rulings. In all three of these countries, homosexuality is illegal.
LGBTI rights in the 20 countries in summary
Already has same-sex marriage and rights for trans people
Gay sex is illegal and no rights for trans people
Same-sex marriage and civil unions are constitutionally banned. However, trans people have many rights thanks to change to law in 2016.
Brazil has same-sex marriage and rights for trans people. However, it is the most dangerous place in the world to be transgender as it as the highest murder statistics.
Chile has civil unions, access to similar rights as marriage without the title. They do not have same-sex adoption, which comes under marriage. A new law to allow trans people to transition without being sterilized is currently being discussed.
Colombia has same-sex marriage and the right to change legal gender without medical intervention.
Costa Rica has just agreed to pass same-sex marriage. Surgery is not a requirement to change your legal gender.
Same-sex marriage is constitutionally banned in Dominican Republican. Trans people do not have the right to change your legal gender.
Ecuador has civil unions, access to equal rights as marriage. Trans people may change their gender without the need for surgery.
There is no legal recognition for same-sex couples, with support for marriage equality as low as 10% (as polled in 2010). Trans people can legally change their gender.
There are no plans for same-sex marriage. Trans people can legally change their gender without surgery.
Transgender people can be fined for ‘vagrancy’ in Haiti. There are no plans for marriage or civil unions.
Same-sex marriage is constitutionally banned in Honduras. Trans people do not have the right to change their legal gender.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City and 12 states. Trans people can change their legal gender in Mexico City and two states.
Both same-sex marriage and the right to change your legal gender is not allowed in Nicaragua.
Trans people are only allowed to change their legal gender after sex reassignment surgery. The ban on same-sex marriage has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Same-sex marriage is banned in the constitution. Trans people do not have the right to change their legal gender.
While same-sex marriage is not allowed, trans people are allowed to change their gender without surgery.
While gay sex is legal, the age of consent is not equal. There are no rights for trans people and same-sex marriage is not allowed.
Marriage equality was passed in 2013 and trans people have been allowed to change their legal gender without surgery since 2009.