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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for January, 2013

Marriage update – South America

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2013

It’s getting marriagey all over the place. And it’s also getting hard to keep track of what is going on where. So here is an update to help (which will probably be outdated by the time I hit “publish”).

Central South America:

Argentina - marriage has been equal since 2010.

Bolivia - in 2011 a bill to grant some limited couple recognition was introduced into the Bolivian Chamber of Deputies. It was referred in April 2012 to the Human Rights Commission, where it appears to have fallen asleep.

Brazil - since May 2011, Brazil has had recognizd civil unions for same-sex couples. The states of Alegoas and Bahia allow couples to administratively convert the civil unions to marriage. Since last month, same-sex couples in Sao Paulo may marry without any converted-civil-unions process.

Chile - on March 27, 2012, Daniel Zamudio was tortured and beaten to death. Much in the same way that Matthew Sheppard’s story changed the United States, Zamudio’s has been changing Chile. A long-stalled non-discrimination bill was quickly passed and signed and the populace is now impatient with institutionalize homophobia.

In August 2011, conservative President Pinera sent a civil unions bill to congress and two months ago he reaffirmed that the end of his term, March 2014, is the deadline for its passage. In hearings on the bill in the first weeks of the year, the Catholic Bishop of San Bernardo testified that the bill “brings the destruction of human beings and, although they deny it, destruction to social and family peace among men.” However, public polling shows strong support and the President has named the bill “a top priority”.

The opposition party’s contenders for Presidential nominee debated earlier this month whether same-sex couples should have civil unions or marriage rights. It is likely that civil unions will be achieved this year and that marriage equality will then follow at some point.

Colombia - in July 2011, the Supreme Court found that same sex couples have the same contitutional rights to recognition as heterosexual couples, but they left the structure open to Congress to legislate. Since that time there have been various bills pass one house or the other, but none came to completion. Currently there is a marriage bill in the Senate which has passed the first committee hurdle. Should no bill be enacted by June 20th, same-sex couples will be able to go to judges and become recognized. As there is no alternative legal structure in place, it seems logical that the only legal alternative for judges is to declare them married. But as legislators are disinclined to turn over power to anyone, it’s even more likely that something – civil unions or marriage – will be in place by that date.

Ecuador - while marriage equality is banned by constitution, Ecuador has had civil unions since 2008.

Uruguay - civil unions have been available since 2007. Last month a marriage equality bill passed the House of Deputes with a wide margin last month and is expected to pass the Senate in April.

And while other nations in South America are strongly hostile to same-sex marriage recognition, many of them place strong importance on the rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has been increasingly supportive of gay rights. It may be that this court plays a role in shifting the continent’s laws in the near future.

Ecuador Health Minister Slams Ex-Gay Clinics

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2012

Andrés Duque has translated and transcribed an interview with Ecuador’s Health Minister Carina Vance, who was a lesbian rights advocate before being named to President Rafael Correa’s cabinet. In the interview, Vance describes the difficulties posed by the country’s proliferation of abusive and torturous ex-gay clinics, and says that the government is revising its regulations and procedures to deal with the problems they pose:

Those who end up at the rehabilitation clinics – and what we have seen in the majority of these cases – is that they have been brought there by their own families. We have to work with those families. We have to work with the roots of the cause. And I’m not providing a justification that gives government a pass on its responsibilities. It has to be both. If we don’t tackle both issues we won’t get a sustainable response. It has to go hand in hand: An effort to educate and break up the myths and prejudices that exist in this society and, at the same time, a government-led response with the understanding that the State is the one that guarantees the human rights of all citizens.

…I would say that the existence of these clinics that perform these type of treatments is one of the most visible and shocking evidences of the prejudices we hold as a society. I believe that the discrimination and these prejudices are still present in day to day life and requires work from the government in taking responsibility of the actions and controls that should be taken.

LGBT advocates allege that there are more than 200 such clinics in Ecuador, with many of them operating under the guise of alcohol and drug treatment programs.

The full interview is available at Andrés’ blog, Blabbeando.

Ecuador Closes 30 Ex-Gay Clinics

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2011

Ecuadorean authorities have so far this year closed at least thirty ex-gay clinics which claimed to “cure” homosexuality following allegations of torture and abuse by former  patients. One of those former clients, 28-year-old Paula Ziritt, said she was held for two years at one such facility in Guayaqui, which included three months in handcuffs while guards threw urine and ice water on her. “It was degrading, humiliating and horrible,” she said. Another former client was nineteen years old when he was forcibly taken by his father to a different clinic, where he was beaten, deprived of food, and also had buckets of cold water thrown on him. Authorities say that six clinics which were closed in Guayaquil were linked to evangelical movements.

Ecuador’s Health Ministry said they are working with the Interior Ministry to weed out the unlicensed clinics which are operating outside of Ecuadorean law. Some of these clinics are suspected as posing as alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers. Authorities estimate that as many as 200 such clinics may be operating in the country, and are asking members of the gay community to come forward with any information they may have. One provincial health director, Eva Cevallos, warns, “Obviously you can not cure homosexuality. These therapies involve malpractice and are unauthorized. They cause depressive disorders, self-destructive behavior, anxiety and may lead to committing suicide.”

Couple recognition in Latin America

Timothy Kincaid

August 10th, 2011

As it stands, much of Latin America either has some form of couple recognition or is in the process of doing so.

Marriage – Argentina 2010
Marriage – Mexico 2010 – marriage must occur in Mexico City but recognized throughout
Civil Unions – Uruguay 2007
Civil Unions – Ecuador 2008
Civil Unions – Brazil 2011
Proposed – Colombia 2011 – Court directed the legislature to draft law
Proposed – Chile 2011 – President proposed Life Partnership (Civil Unions) bill

Guess Who Else Isn’t On Board With the U.N. Resolution to Decriminalize Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2008

Mark, at Slapped Upside the Head, has a good take on yesterday’s news that the Vatican is opposing a U.N. resolution calling on member states to rescind laws outlawing homosexuality — which in some countries includes the death penalty. We discussed the Vatican’s intrinsically disordered logic here. Mark has his own take here.

There are a lot of countries which have already signed on to the declaration, including: Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Those last three are rather surprising. Also surprising co-sponsors are three African countries: Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. That’s quite an impressive list.

So, who’s missing? Well, let’s see. Oh look: the United States and Australia.

Ecuador Provides Civil Unions

Timothy Kincaid

September 30th, 2008

Ecuador voters appear to have approved a new constitution, a provision of which provides civil unions to same-sex couples.

In Latin America, Ecuador joins Uruguay, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, Mexico City, the Mexican state of Coahuila, Buenos Aires, and the Argentenian state of Rio Negro in providing recognition of same-sex couples.

Ex-Gay Torture Chambers In Ecuador

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2008

Nueva Vida (New Life) MinistryAndrés Duque at Babbleando has provided some valuable translations from two newspaper articles from Ecuador chronicling ex-gay and ex-transgender ministries in that country. According to El Universo, there are more than 140 such unlicensed treatment centers operating throughout Ecuador. Operating under the guise of alcohol and drug rehab centers, these ministries engage in barbaric practices which are nothing short of torture. One transgender “client” describes her experience:

“My father paid $1,000 [approx. $350 dollars] to have them lock me up in a clinic because he wanted me to change. Four men practically kidnapped me on the street. I wore my hair long and, since I had already taken hormones, my breasts had grown. They clipped my hair. Me and another three homosexuals. They would lock us up in rooms of less than a meter wide. So small that we had to stand on our feet, in the dark, with flies.”

The place where she was taken was God’s Paradise, a drug and alcohol rehab center, led by Jorge Flor who some residents call “My Pastor.”

“When I tried to escape,” says Chiqui, “they hit me until they broke my nose. They’d ask if I was a man or a woman, they’d take our pants down, they’d throw water between our legs and would put live cables to shock us with electricity.”

Another former “client,” Jorge, who is now an LGBT activist, described similar experiences:

“They gave me hormones that changed my voice. They would put on videos with men and, if we happened to get an erection, they would hit us. They would wake us up at 5:30 and, if we had not committed an infraction, they would give us breakfast. They applied electric shocks to our private parts and on our hands.”

Jorge also said that the center was led by men who called themselves as pastors and claimed that they would touch “patients” to see if they would become aroused, and if not, declare then “cured.”

El Universo notes that although Ecuador is a predominantly Catholic country, most of the ex-gay ministries are associated with the emerging Evangelical movement in Latin America. And as in America, these ministries are politically engaged. One such leader, Assembly member Balerico Estacio, tried to eliminate constitutional protections for gays and lesbians last March. He described his ex-gay treatment approach this way:

“They are demons that invade the body,” he says, “The natural self does not understand them, even if its psychological. Nothing can be done if it’s not from God’s spirit,” defending these centers.