Update: The proposal was rejected. 7 deputees voted in favour the initiative, 19 against it. There was one abstention.
On Wednesday, November 9th, the Mexican Chamber of Deputees will discuss same-sex marriage and adoption rights. The initiative was brought forwards by president Enrique Peña Nieto. To guarantee said rights to lesbian and gay couples, he refers to article 4o of the Mexican constitution, which bans discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability or ethnicity. The proposal argues with the universal right to self-determination and -fulfillment of every person.
The parliamentary debate takes place in a setting where the question of gay marriage and equal adoption rights in Mexico is especially heated: Although Peña Nieto himself had always endorsed the LGBT-community in this matter, his own party had not. It was only in May when a first attempt to let the Chamber of Deputees debate the topic had failed. And again, deputees belonging to Peña Nieto’s party PRI declared that they would vote against the proposal, along with representatives of the conservative party PAN. On the other hand, the president’s bill is backed by the National Supreme Court of Justice and the National Commission for Human Rights.
The most visible controversy, however, took place in the streets. In September, the “Frente Nacional por la Familia” (National Front for the Family), supported mainly by the Catholic church and other Christian organizations, protested against gay marriage and equal adoptions rights. Their marches took place in almost every bigger city in Mexico, attracting thousands of followers and counterprotesters alike.
But it was only last week when Franco Coppola told the supporters of the Frente Nacional por la Familia to stop the marches and to find another way to communicate their ideas. He is the nuntius of the Vatican in Mexico, a clerical ambassador representing the Vatican in every country. He also told the Catholic community to get into contact with precisely those members of the LGBT-community: in a less ideological, more dialogical way. It is nevertheless unclear what exactly is meant by that, considering that he wished both sides to change their paradigm. He also refrained from negotiating the dialogue, saying there has to be a “more Mexican way”, solving these kinds of problems internally and without help from other states. His comment to Peña Nieto’s proposal is expectably diplomatic, implying that some things could be adapted easily while others should be checked more thoroughly.
Coppola’s rebuke is also directed towards influential Catholic personalities within Mexico. The cardinal Norberto Rivera had massively supported the “Frente Nacional por la Familia”, participated in their marches and publicly condemned same-sex marriage as “unnatural”. Rivera still holds various important offices, although he is accused of having sexually molested more than 100 children while working in Mexico and the United States. He stated that gay couples are more liable to contract sexually transmittable diseases and that children are more likely to suffer sexual abuse from a gay parent.
The outcome of wednesday’s debate is hard to tell, as both Peña Nieto’s party and the Catholic church alike are deeply conflicted. If the bill ends up being approved, a commission for constitutional matters will have to discuss how the new right will be implemented. Meanwhile, LGBT couples have found other ways to make their partnership official: since 2010, more than 8000 couples have registered their relationships as civil unions, many others have gone to the USA. While same-sex-marriage is not allowed on a national level in Mexico, it is mostly recognized if the wedding has taken place in another country.