Peru must recognise gay marriages its citizens enter abroad, a court in the country has ruled.
The Constitutional Court, which rules on whether pieces of legislation are in line with the country’s constitution, made this announcement following a lawsuit by a man named Oscar Ugarteche Galarza. He has been a long-time advocate for gay rights in Peru but he currently lives in Mexico City with his partner. As this is one of the regions of Mexico which allows same sex couples to marry, the couple were able to do so in 2010. Galarza applied to have his marital status updated on his Peruvian passport but was denied as the Catholic-majority country does not allow or recognise gay marriage.
Galarza launched a legal bid to overturn the initial rejection. This was heard by the Constitutional Court in the capital city Lima. In their ruling, the judges said their “administration of justice has to be interpreted on the basis of changes to and the needs of our society” and that there was “a great part of society speaking out for the legal equality of homosexual couples”.
The decision has been warmly welcomed by LGBT rights advocates in the country. Gio Infante is one such activist. He called the ruling “a big step towards the full legal recognition of rainbow families”.
However the government department responsible for the registration of marriages in Peru has already said it will appeal, the Associated Press reports. Infante said he hoped that this would not happen because an appeal would “force us into an even longer legal battle, which we would still win” because supporters of marriage equality are “on the right side of history”.
More than a billion people now live in countries where gay marriage is legal, according to Australian LGBT activist Tony Pitman. As the first country to approve it did so in 2001 this figure demonstrates “an extraordinary rate of social progress” he claimed.
Photo of Lima, Peru by Art DiNo via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.