Mexico City conservatives call newly legal gay civil unions "aberrant"

Troy Espera | November 20, 2006

Mayor Alejandro Encinas
MEXICO CITY — Legislation legalizing gay civil unions in Mexico City was published in the official gazette on Thursday, making it the first such law in the history of the conservative, predominantly Roman Catholic country, reports the Associated Press.

The law does not legalize gay marriage but allows same-sex couples living in Mexico City to register civil unions with authorities, granting them inheritance rights and other benefits typically given to spouses.

City legislature passed the law last week and it was signed on Monday by Mexico City Mayor Alejandro Encinas. According to the AP, it will not take effect for 120 days.

At least one conservative non-governmental group said told the AP it was considering seeking a court injunction against the measure.

The measure has been severely criticized by the Catholic Church and conservative groups in the country, which is 90 percent Catholic. The Mexican Council of Bishops has told the AP that the law is the first step toward legalizing gay marriage and adoption by gays. The conservative National Parents Union called it "aberrant."

While homosexuality is still taboo in many rural parts of Latin America, the region's urban areas are becoming more tolerant.

According to the Washington Post, Mexico City has long had a reputation as one of the most tolerant places in Mexico for gays. But even here it was common for police to raid gay bars in the 1980s and early 1990s and to arrest gay people for alleged moral violations. There were also frequent beatings of gay men, whose attackers sometimes went unpunished by a society that discriminated against homosexuals and considered their lifestyle an affront to the macho image favored by many Mexican men, reports the Post.

Mexico City joins the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires and the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul in legalizing same-sex civil unions.

At the national level, lawmakers in Costa Rica and Colombia have debated, but not passed, similar measures.

The Post reports that the large Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, is now considering a gay union law.

The Mexico City assembly passed the measure by a vote of 43-17, with all the no-votes coming from the conservative National Action Party of President Vicente Fox and President-elect Felipe Calderon. The party is known for its opposition to abortion and support for traditional families. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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