International News: Mexico marriage equality; New Russian LGBT “propaganda” law

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Marriage equality legal in all of Mexico

Same-sex marriage is now legal in all of Mexico’s states. In 2015, the country’s Supreme Court declared state laws preventing gay marriage unconstitutional, but it has taken years to get all states to sign onto the ruling and adhere to the law, amending their long-standing bans.

On Oct. 27, lawmakers in the border state of Tamaulipas voted to legalize same-sex marriages. Tamaulipas was the final state among Mexico’s 32 states to authorize the marriages.

The vote in Tamaulipas to amend the state’s Civil Code passed with 23 votes in favor, 12 against and two abstentions. There were cheers of “Yes, we can!” from supporters of the measure.

The session took place as groups both for and against the proposed change chanted and shouted from the balcony, and legislators eventually moved to another room to finish their debate and vote.

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, the Mexican institution serving as the country’s federal high court and the spearhead organization for the judiciary of the Mexican Federal Government, applauded the vote.

“The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love,” Arturo Zaldívar said on Twitter.

Lawmakers in the southern state of Guerrero had approved legislation allowing same-sex marriages the previous day.

Russia doubles down on LGBT “propaganda” law

Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law has already banned the promotion of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations around minors” and was justified by Russia’s Duma as a necessary measure to protect children from homosexual influence. The law applies to anyone under 18.

Now, Russian lawmakers intend to toughen the country’s discriminatory law to ban all Russians from promoting or “praising” homosexual relationships or publicly implying that they are “normal.”

Moscow’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, unanimously approved amendments that would expand the scope of the law by banning the “denial of family values” and the “promotion of non-traditional sexual orientations” to all ages, strengthening the current law. The information was posted on the parliament’s official website.  

Under the bill, “propaganda of non-traditional relations” is an offense subject to a fine of up to 400,000 rubles ($6,500) for individuals and up to 5 million rubles ($81,400) for legal entities. Foreigners could face up to 15 days in jail or deportation for breaking the law, according to the parliament’s website.

“Our bill is not an act of censorship. We are only saying that propaganda, that is, positive promotion, praise, saying that this is normal, and maybe even better than traditional relations, should be banned,” head of the State Duma’s Information Policy Committee, Alexander Khinshtein, said during the parliament session.

The proposed move still has to pass the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, and be signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin to become law. Putin has repeatedly stressed his concerns over homosexuality harming Russian children and undermining the family.

In 2020, Putin said Russia would not legalize gay marriage as long as he was in the Kremlin. He said he would not allow the roles of mother and father to become what he called “parent number 1” and “parent number 2.”

“As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: as long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum,” Putin said

According to Human Rights Watch, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth in Russia face formidable barriers to enjoying their fundamental rights to dignity, health, education, information, and association.” 

The group said, “In Russia, antipathy towards homosexuality and gender variance is not new — LGBT people there have long faced threats, bullying, abuse inside their families, and discrimination — but the 2013 ‘gay propaganda’ law has increased that social hostility. The law has also had a stifling effect on access to affirming education and support services, with harmful consequences for LGBT youth.”

Expansion of the law will only serve to make things worse. 

At a speech in Moscow on Oct. 27, Putin, who is in an adversarial position to the West due to the war on Ukraine, attacked Western culture and said, “The West can do whatever they want with gay parades but they shouldn’t dictate the same rules for Russia.”

A European court ruled in 2017 that Russia’s “gay propaganda law” is discriminatory, stating it promotes homophobia and violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court found that the law “served no legitimate public interest.” Russia asserted that public debate on LGBT+ issues could influence children to become homosexual and that it threatened public morals.

“Above all, by adopting such laws the court found that the authorities had reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia, which was incompatible with the values — of equality, pluralism and tolerance — of a democratic society,” the court document said.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but homophobia and discrimination is still rife. It is ranked 46th out of 49 European countries for LGBTQ+ inclusion by watchdog ILGA-Europe.

Tokyo begins issuing same-sex partner certificates 

The Japanese capital of Tokyo has begun rolling out a partnership certificate to same-sex couples. While the country itself has banned same-sex marriage, the new certificate, similar to domestic partnership in the U.S., will allow gay and lesbian couples in Tokyo to be treated like married couples for certain public services for the first time.

Japan is the only country in the G7 group of developed nations which doesn’t recognize same-sex couples.

Yet according to a survey conducted in 2021 by Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, 57% were in favor of full marriage equality, 37% were against, and the remainder undecided.

Despite this widespread support, a district court in Osaka previously ruled that the existing ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional. In October, Noboru Watanabe, a local representative for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, referred publicly to same-sex marriage as “disgusting.” Watanabe’s comments were widely criticized.

The partnership certificates, which have also been introduced in eight other prefectures [like states] outside Tokyo, will allow same-sex couples to be treated the same as married couples when it comes to housing, healthcare and social welfare. But the certificates will not have any validity with regard to issues like adoption, inheritance and spousal visas.

Anyone aged over 18 who either lives or works in Tokyo is allowed to apply, with 137 applications having been submitted as of Oct. 28.

Soyoka Yamamoto, an LGBT+ rights activist who was among the first to obtain a certificate on Tuesday, told reporters she sincerely hoped “we can accelerate efforts to create a society where the rights of sexual minorities can be protected, and made more equal.”

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