Gay rights proponents in Argentina's
Chamber of Deputies (la Camara de Diputados) failed to gain
sufficient support to open debate on a gay marriage bill Wednesday,
but lawmakers say they'll hold a special session next Wednesday.
“It's very painful,” Cesar
Cigliuti, president of Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (Homosexual
Community Argentina), told EL COMERCIO. “We had every confidence
it would move forward. We felt we were going to live a historic
moment. But we hope that next Wednesday we will make the initial
A polarizing tax debate elbowed out
discussion of the gay marriage bill, which received the approval of a
key committee two weeks ago.
In an interview with Ultimo Minuto,
National Deputy Vilma Ibarra confirmed that the majority party had
agreed to hear the bill next week.
Gay men and lesbians living in the
rural villages of central Argentina often suffer greater
discrimination when compared to city dwellers, Ibarra said: “The
truth is that many people are heterosexual and homosexual living in
different parts of the country and generally in the interior you will
suffer triple discrimination.”
Several metropolitan cities –
including the nation's capital of Buenos Aires – have approved
civil unions for gay couples.
Last December, two men were married in
the Argentine state of Tierra del Fuego after Governor Fabiana Rios
issued a special decree. The wedding was originally scheduled to
take place in Buenos Aires, but a national judge ordered a halt to
the ceremony at the last minute, overruling a lower court's decision.
Three more gay couples have since married.
The legality of the marriages, however,
remain in doubt. Earlier this month, a magistrate declared the
marriage of Alejandro Freyre and Jose Maria Di Bello – the first
couple to marry – “nonexistent.” The couple has said they will
appeal the ruling.
Legal recognition of gay unions is also
gaining ground in other Latin American countries.
In March, a gay marriage law took
effect in Mexico City, making it the first municipality in Latin
America to approve such unions. Federal officials have appealed to
the country's Supreme Court to strike down the measure. Uruguay
recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.
An overwhelming majority of
Argentinians belong to the Roman Catholic Church, which could
significantly influence the outcome of the upcoming debate on gay
marriage. In a letter released last week, the church said that the
state would be “in contradiction with its duties by altering the
principles of natural law,” if it approved the bill.
If approved, Argentina would become the
first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage.