John M. Becker

South American LGBT Roundup: Chile, Colombia, Ecuador

Filed By John M. Becker | August 29, 2014 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Chile, civil unions, Colombia, Ecuador, joint adoption, LGBT military, military, Navy, relationship recognition

south-america-map.jpgThere's been some great LGBT news out of South America this week. Here's a quick round-up:

1.) Chile

A sailor in Chile has become the first serving member of that socially conservative nation's armed forces to come out of the closet as gay. The Associated Press reports:

At a press conference Wednesday, 24-year-old sailor Mauricio Ruiz told reporters he hoped the public disclosure about his sexuality will help dispel myths that gays can't be effective members of Chile's armed forces. Ruiz was accompanied by gay activists for his announcement, which he said was not an easy step to take but one he felt was necessary.

"Personally, I hope that this is a contribution to non-discrimination in my society," he said. Ruiz, who is stationed at a port in Valparaiso, said his navy superiors granted permission for him to make his disclosure publicly.

The report further notes that despite having decriminalized homosexuality in 1999 and passed a hate crimes law in 2012, Chile remains a difficult place for gays and lesbians -- but attitudes are evolving.

Stories from Colombia and Ecuador are after the break.

2.) Colombia

In an historic first, Colombia's constitutional court has allowed a lesbian couple to jointly adopt a child born to one of them. Once again, the AP:

Ana Leiderman gave birth to two children via artificial insemination. Her longtime partner Veronica Botero however doesn't have any custodial or legal rights over the children, now ages 4 and 6. The couple petitioned for full legal rights after the first child was born...

While Thursday's ruling applies to couples where one member is a biological parent, legal experts say it could indicate a willingness by the high court to extend adoption rights to all same-sex couples.

3.) Ecuador

In the biggest development of all, the nation of Ecuador announced this week that same-sex couples will be able to officially register their civil unions and have them noted on their ID cards. This makes a host of financial and legal benefits available to them. ThinkProgress reports:

"If there was any doubt about heterosexual or same-sex civil unions being put on national ID cards, there is none any more," President Rafael Correa said on the South American network Telesur. "And if someone is still turned away by a government employee, that employee will be dismissed for denying constitutional rights."...

"It's like giving us full citizenship," [trans-feminist activist Diane Rodriguez] said. "For example, in emergencies, my partner can make decisions about my health care at a hospital. Or at the bank, we can open a joint account. Before this, couples had a lot of problems because they had no documents to prove they were married."

Same-sex marriage remains illegal in Ecuador and the president has no plans to change that, so for now, marriage and marriage-related rights like joint adoption remain off the table for LGB couples. Nonetheless, Rodriguez says this latest development is a huge step forward for the Ecuadorian LGBT community.

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