Azuay province in southern Ecuador unanimously voted in favour of a ‘symbolic gesture’ for gay marriage on March 4.
Various heads of towns and cities in the province came together and agreed on a form of legally-recognized union same-sex couples can register for, but which will not be the same as a marriage.
The prefect of Azuay, Paúl Carrasco, said: ‘Ecuador does not recognise civil unions between same-sex people.
‘[However], the Provincial Government of Azuay will recognize, as a symbolic gesture, LGBTI marriage registration, for couples who want to register their partnership.’
The news is especially surprising given Ecuador’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage. De facto gay partnerships do exist in Ecuador but without adoption rights.
To date, only three South American countries have equal marriage: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Addressing the controversial decision, Carrasco said: ‘The Azuay prefecture will not… be acting illegally. [The decision] is a symbolic tool in the interests of human rights in Azuay, based on the recognition of sexual diversity and enhancing rights.’
Speaking on ‘behalf of the LGBTI’ community, according to newspaper El Comercio, Wilmer González said: ‘Azuay is giving priority to the rights of everybody.
‘Now we can talk about a marriage for the LGBT population. Though it is symbolic, today marks an important milestone with this ordinance.’