An Ecuador court has ruled that banning same-sex marriage in the country is illegal, arguing that it violates the rights of LGBTQ people.
Judges Iliana Vallejo and Ruth Alvarez ruled in favor of two lesbian couples in the Family, Women, Children and Adolescents Court after their marriage license applications were rejected by the Civil Registry office in the central highlands region of Azuay.
The Cuenca judges separately ruled that the Registry has to allow the women to get married “immediately,” a decision that could have national repercussions.
Vallejo and Alvarez cited January’s Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision that 16 countries in the Americas “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.”
The two judges also said the refusal to allow Ecuadorian women to marry violates their right to found a family through marriage, regardless of sexual orientation. They also cited the right to form a family as demonstrated in the Constitutional Court’s Satya case, which allowed same-sex parents to register their children under both surnames and both be recognized as the child’s parents.
The decision was celebrated by LGBTQ advocacy groups throughout Ecuador, including the local group Red LGBTQ Azuay.
“Bravo for the defense of equality and diversity! Bravo for the fight against discrimination! Bravo for love,” it wrote on Facebook. “Without a doubt, this is a great step forward in the recognition of diverse families.”
Despite the Civil Registry appealing the decision to a Provincial court, many believe that the case will produce the same result.
“It is expected that this advance in human rights in Ecuador, will strengthened in the appeal and that opens the possibility for same-sex couples are really free and equal to realize their dreams,” a spokesperson for the Feminist Legal Collective told Gay Star News.
While homosexuality is legal in Ecuador, LGBTQ people can still be subjected to violence and persecution. Reports of lesbians undergoing conversion therapy have been reported, despite the practice having been outlawed since 1997.