Thursday, November 09, 2006

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Mexico City passes (Gay) Civil Unions law!

This is HUGE! Mexico City Legislature (ALDF) passed the "Ley de Sociedades en Convivencia" or "Civil Unions" bill which will allow couples who are of legal age, of the same or different genders, to register their unions at Delegation offices, the same as marriages are registered now. Registration confers inheritance and pension rights as well as the social benefits available to married couples. The bill passed 43 to 17, with 5 absentions. PRD, PRI, PT, Convergencia, Alternativa y two Nueva Alianza deputies voted in favor. One PRD deputy and the three Green representatives abstained. PAN and one Nueva Alianza deputry voted "no." Based on French law, "Sociedades de Conviviencia" provide property, pension, inheritance and even co-parenting rights. They say nothing about adoption, and specifically exclude relationships between close blood relatives. One specific feature of the bill is that couples who are turned away by a delegation official can appeal to the Federal District's Adminstrative Law Court, which can sanction or fine civil servants who -- by action, negligence or omission -- discriminate against citizens on the basis of, among other things, sexual orientation. Alberto Cuenca, in El Universal wrote in this morning's edition (before the vote was taken) that the bill is "designed to give legal recognition to a social reality, and in no way affects existing forms of marriage. An estimated 2.1 of the 26 million households in Mexico are formed by unrelated and unmarried persons. Reuters reports that the Coahuila State legislature is debating a similar law this week.
"These reforms are going to cause a snowball effect that no one will be able to stop," said David Sanchez of the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution, one of the few openly gay national congressmen.
The Sociedad Mexicana de Sexología Humanista Integral estimates that 20 percent of Mexicans have had -- or will have -- same sex relations during their lifetime. According to the 2005 "Primera Encuesta Nacional sobre la Discriminación", 94 percent of gays and lesbians said they had been discrimated against because of their sexual orientation. The bill has been languishing for the last five years, until today. Ironically, the bill's author, lesbian activist and then ALDF deputy, Enoé Uranga, blamed the delay in passage on "old socialists," specifically Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who besides being much less a fire-breating radical and more an old fashioned middle-class social worker than outsiders realize, also could not, during his tenure as Jefe de Gobernacion in DF, nor when running for President, could afford to alienate "traditional values voters" or the Church. From this morning's El Universal (my translation):
Alberto Cuenca El Universal Ciudad de México Thursday, 9 November 2006 Enoé Uranga, who during her tenure as a Federal District Deputy first introduced a Civil Unions bill ("Ley de Sociedades en Convivencia") said that the imminent approval of this proposal, expected as early as today by the Federal District Assembly (ALDF, "Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal" in Spanish) showed that the "modern left" has supplanted the "conservative left". Uranga added that the present PRD legislators "have rectified the effors" of previous PRD legislatures, dominated by those opposed to the law. However, Ms. Uranga said that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, when he was Chief of Government for the Federal District, was the main impediment to passing a Civil Unions bill, and his objections were the main reason no vote held on the matter until now. In April 2001, Uranga, then a local deputy, presented to the ALDF tribunal the first iniative for a civil unions bill, with only minor differences than the one presently before the Assembly. Five years later, the former assemblywoman, active in the gay-lebian comunity, said he has never lost confidence that the original proposal would eventually be approved. However, the Green Party has said they will vote against the measure [my note: the Greens abstained]. The gay-lesbian community is seeking the expulsion of the PVEM (Mexican Green Party) from the Green Party International, on the grounds that support for Civil Unions is an intergral part of the Green platform at the interntional level.


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