Monday, March 12, 2012

Gay activists protest outside PAN headquarters in D.F.

Last week a young PAN (National Action Party) member of Mexico's lower legislative body, the House of Deputies, took to the podium and made some derogatory comments about gay marriage, which is lawful in the capital city and the Federal District. The deputy got rather wound up in his remarks, railing against matrimonio de jotos (the "marriage of queers"), and conspicuously referring to some gay deputies who were present in the chamber as la señorita or la diputada - even though they're men. He was shouted down and eventually brought to order by House floor managers, but not before the deputy had managed to stir up a bit of legislative rage and perform for the cameras.

In response to that event, this afternoon a small group of gay activists protested outside of the National Action Party's (PAN) headquarters in Mexico City. It appears to have been a peaceful demonstration.

Legitimate debate and speech is fully protected in the Mexican Senate and House of Deputies, just as in the United States. But derogatory remarks which serve no purpose other than to incite and inflame tempers are subject to internal discipline, such as by censure, as they would be in the U.S. and many other legislative bodies. Some members of the House of Deputies said they will file a formal complaint against the PAN legislator with Mexico's federal human rights commission.

What exacerbated the ruckus is the fact that Mexico's Federal District has a PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party) government. Indeed, PRD actively promoted the same-sex marriage law, which took effect in 2010. I don't know if PRD's 2012 presidential nominee, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has an announced position on this topic, but the PAN deputy's comments certainly were construed as not only anti-gay but anti-PRD, and therefore by extension anti-López Obrador. So the dispute is as much about partisan politics as it is about gay marriage. PAN, by the way, hasn't taken an official stance on same-sex unions in this presidential election year, but the party frequently espouses traditional family values, and is often in the same social camp as Mexico's Roman Catholic Church.

In January Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court upheld, by a vote of 7-4, the right of same-sex persons to marry, but only in those states where local legislatures have so authorized. Few of the country's 32 states allow gay marriage. Yucatán does not, but Quintana Roo (Cancún, etc.) does. It appears that in Mexico a gay marriage performed in a state where the same is authorized is entitled to full legal recognition anywhere else in the nation. Whether it would be entitled to recognition in some other country - the United States, for example - presents a more complex legal question.

Mexico's Supreme Court takes another step towards nationwide recognition of gay marriage
Can gay wedding industry save Quintana Roo from Los Zetas and Los Pelones?
Mexico's Supreme Court fails to overturn state anti-abortion laws

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