On Tuesday, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that 20 Central and South American countries must legalize same-sex marriage (or at least confer the legal rights associated with it). This Central and South America marriage ruling is a huge deal. Seriously.
Understanding the court behind the Central and South America marriage ruling
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights was established in 1979 by the Organization of American States, a collection of countries spread throughout Central and South America, as a judicial enforcer the American Convention on Human Rights, a document outlining provisions for “personal liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.”
In 2016, Costa Rica asked the court for its opinion on whether it should extend property rights to same-sex couples. In Tuesday’s ruling, seven judges from the court said that member nations “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.”
Right now, the Organization of American States has 20 members: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
Tuesday’s ruling is legally binding in all of those countries, basically legalizing same-sex marriage (or the rights associated with it) throughout large swaths of South and Central America.
While the court didn’t lay out how each country should go about legalizing marriage equality — and it remains unclear if they have a deadline for doing so — the court’s ruling flies in the face of evangelical and conservative political forces opposing LGBTQ rights in Central and South America.
The Court also said that Costa Rica must allow transgender people to change their name and gender marker on government-issued identification documents.
Despite this monumental win of marriage rights, many of the countries listed above have mixed policies forbidding LGBTQ people from donating blood, adopting children, joining the military or having access to housing, employment and public accommodations without discrimination.
Featured image by Jason Sheil via iStock