For the first time in Ecuador’s history, a legal institution has ruled that banning same-sex marriage is illegal.
Last week, two separate judges ruled the ban violates the human rights of LGBTI people.
Judges in the Family, Women, Children and Adolescents Court ruled in favor of two lesbian couples. The Civil Registry office had rejected the couples’s marriage license applications.
In two separate hearings Judges Iliana Vallejo and Ruth Alvarez ruled the Civil Registry must ‘immediately’ allow the women to get married.
The hearing happened in the city of Cuenca in the central highlands region of Azuay. The judges’ rulings should have national repercussions.
It’s about equality and non-discrimination
The two judges cited January’s Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that governments in 16 countries in the region must ‘must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex’.
Judges Vallejo and Alvarez also ruled that the Civil Registry’s refusal to allow the women’s marriage constitutes violations to: the right to equality and non-discrimination to found a family through marriage based on the sexual orientation of the contracting parties; the right to form a family in its various types as highlighted by the Constitutional Court in the Satya case; and impediment to carry out their life plans.
The Satya case marked the first time same-sex parents were allowed to register their child with both their surnames. Nicola Rothon and Helen Bicknell had battled since the birth of Satya in 2012 to both be recognized as their daughter’s parents.
In May this year the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the two women and Satya will carry both their surnames in line with Ecuador tradition.
Civil Registry appeal
LGBTI advocacy groups celebrated the decision. They celebrated even though the Civil Reigstry office appealed the decision. The case has now escalated to the Provincial Court of Justice of Azuay
‘It is expected that this advance in human rights in Ecuador, will strengthened in the appeal and that opens the possibility for same-sex couples are really free and equal to realize their dreams,’ a spokesperson for the Feminist Legal Collective told Gay Star News.
Local group, Red LGBTI Azuay celebrated the decision.
‘Bravo for the defense of equality and diversity! Bravo for the fight against discrimination! Bravo for love!’ it wrote on Facebook.
‘Without a doubt this is a great step forward in the recognition of diverse families.’
Ecuador and LGBTI people
LGBTI people face daily violence and persecution in Ecuador. Even though homosexuality is not illegal there, LGBTI people do not have many of the same rights as straight people.
Ecuador also has a shocking record when it comes to ‘gay conversion therapy’. Even though it’s been illegal there since 1997, LGBTI people, especially lesbians undergo extreme emotional and physical torture.
Lesbians reported force-feeding, beatings and corrective rape during their ‘gay conversion therapy’.