Ecuador Constitutional Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage

  • by Heather Cassell, BAR Contributor
  • Wednesday June 19, 2019
Share this Post:
Same-sex marriage plaintiffs Javier Benalcazar, left, and his partner, Efrain Soria, kissed as they arrived to learn about the final decision of the Constitutional Court. Photo Credit: AP
Same-sex marriage plaintiffs Javier Benalcazar, left, and his partner, Efrain Soria, kissed as they arrived to learn about the final decision of the Constitutional Court. Photo Credit: AP

Ecuador officially became the 27th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage on June 12.

It was a narrow win, with judges ruling 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage so that the country is in compliance with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 2018 marriage equality ruling.

In January 2018, the court that oversees human rights in the Americas ordered all Latin American and Caribbean countries that hadn't legalized same-sex marriage to update their laws to do so.

The Ecuadorian case was brought by two gay couples — Efra�n Soria and Javier Benalc�zar and Rub�n Salazar and Carlos Verdesoto — who sued the country for their right to marry.

Soria is president of the Ecuadorian Equality Foundation.

The ruling also ordered Ecuadorian lawmakers to pass a same-sex marriage bill. Currently, Ecuador's constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The win came after nearly two decades of work, representatives of the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBTI Organizations said in a statement.

They were opposed by the Catholic Church and the Christian conservative Life and Family group in the mostly Catholic country.

Same-sex unions have been legal for a decade, but couples did not have the same rights as straight married couples.

Reuters reported that opponents argued that rather than grant marriage equality, supporters should lobby parliament to gain equal rights to marriage under the law that granted same-sex civil unions.

"There are no words to express how we feel right now," Danilo Manzano Navas, director of Di�logo Diverso, a Quito-based advocacy group, said in a Facebook Live video he recorded after the court announced its ruling, reported the Washington Blade.

Celebration and demonstration planned at SF Brazilian Consulate

Activists will gather at the Brazilian Consulate in San Francisco Friday, June 21, to celebrate recent high court wins and demonstrate against President Jair Bolsonaro's attacks on LGBT and indigenous people.

Earlier this month, Brazil's Supreme Court ruled 8-3 in favor of criminalizing homophobia by including it with the country's law against racism until congressional members could pass separate legislation addressing homophobia.

Brazil criminalized racism in 1989, reported the New York Times. Individuals convicted of racism face up to five years in prison.

Last month, the court also ruled in favor of extending anti-discrimination protections to LGBT Brazilians.

Bolsonaro, whose anti-gay stance is widely known, criticized the court's most recent ruling stating it could "hurt" the LGBT community.

He told reporters on June 15 that he would "think twice" about hiring a gay person.

Last month, Brazilian lawmakers also reversed Bolsonaro's executive order MP870, which began to dismantle indigenous people's protections, and reinstated funding to the program, returning power to the National Indian Foundation, known as FUNAI.

"It's very exciting to see that Brazil has moved to protect LGBTQ citizens by criminalizing homophobia, however, I have my reservations about the effectiveness of this for everyday people," Mar�a Xiom�ra Dorsey, an organizer with Idle No More SF Bay, wrote in a Facebook message to the Bay Area Reporter. "My personal fear is that while this looks great on paper and in the news, people under the radar will still get away with their hatred because they know their president feels the same as they do, and that is where the danger still remains."

She wrote that Bolsonaro's homophobia should be denounced at "every opportunity," which she vowed the Brazil Solidarity Network would continue to do.

The Brazil Solidarity Network and Idle No More SF Bay collaborated with the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty to organize the San Francisco demonstration.

The action will take place Friday, from 9 to 11 a.m., outside of the Brazilian Consulate, 300 Montgomery Street. Protesters are encouraged to bring musical instruments and paint to create a mural. For more information, visit

'Unsettled' to screen at Frameline

A documentary following four LGBT refugees during their journey resettling in the San Francisco Bay Area is set to screen at on Sunday.

"Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America" follows four LGBT asylum seekers and refugees: Subhi Nahas (Syria), lesbian couple Cheyenne Adriano and Mari Ntimansieme (Angola), and Junior Mayema (Congo) over a five-year period.

The documentary has won many accolades since its release in April.

To mark the occasion, director Tom Shepard, a 40-year-old gay man, who co-produced the documentary with Jen Gilomen, a 42-year-old lesbian, released a new trailer.

UNSETTLED Trailer from Tom Shepard on Vimeo.

"Unsettled" will play at the Castro Theatre June 23 at 1 p.m. Tickets are available online for $15 general admission and $13 for students, seniors, and people with disabilities. For more information, visit

Got international LGBT news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at WhatsApp: 415-517-7239, or Skype: heather.cassell or [email protected].