Peru has to recognize same-sex marriages entered abroad, a court has decided.
The ruling was made by the seventh Constitutional Court in the capital of Lima, following a lawsuit by a gay couple.
Oscar Ugarteche Galarza and his Mexican husband Fidel Aroche Reyes live in Mexico City, where marriage is open to same-sex couples.
On 12 January 2012, Galarza applied to have his marriage entered into the register.
It was struck down in March of the same year.
He then sued the Peruvian government, demanding to recognize his marriage as legitimate and for it to be added to the register.
On Monday (9 December), the court ruled in Galarza’s favor, in a move which has been hailed as bringing the country one step closer to marriage equality.
‘The court is of the belief that our administration of justice has to be interpreted on the basis of changes to and the needs of our society,’ the ruling read.
‘And thereby, it finds a great part of society speaking out for the legal equality of homosexual couples.’
Activists welcomed the ruling, calling it a precedent and saying it could change the world for rainbow families.
‘This case law is historical which doesn’t just recognize the existence of same-sex marriages, which many Peruvians already live in,’ activist Gio Infante said.
‘It’s also a big step towards the full legal recognition of rainbow families. The ruling’s symbolic character is big, because it relates to the marriage of a man who, more than 30 years ago, co-founded Lima’s homosexual movement.’
He hopes the registrar’s office would refrain from appealing the ruling.
‘It would force us into an even longer legal battle, which we would still win,’ Infante said.
‘Because the law is on our side, on the right side of history.’
In response to the ruling, Peru’s congress is reportedly preparing for a debate on a possible law on civil partnerships.
In March 2015, the government rejected a draft law by gay MP Carlos Bruce, which would’ve established marriage equality.
Homosexuality is legal in Peru, although laws protecting ‘public morals’ are often used against the LGBTI community.
Same-sex couples cannot enter civil partnerships and are not granted marriage equality, and until 2009, a court ruled gay soldiers and police officers did not need to stay in the closet to do their jobs.
On 6 January 2016, the government entered anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to the penal code.
Committing a crime on the basis of intolerance or discrimination against the LGBTI community now counts as an aggravating circumstance.