Where Latin American Countries Stand on LGBT Rights

Puerto Rico made headlines this week after its governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed two bills into law; one which prohibits employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, and the other which adds to the island’s domestic violence law protections with regards to sexual orientation. This decision came after much pushing from LGBT rights advocates, including Puerto Rico’s own beloved superstar Ricky Martin, who took to social media last week to ask his fans to help spread the word.

The bills signed in Puerto Rico made us reflect on where LGBT rights stand in areas of Latin America:

1. lgbt slide 01

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed a gay rights bill this week that would ban employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. The elected official reportedly said that he met his obligations as a Christian by signing the bill. In a tweet, the governor wrote in Spanish: “The dignity of being a human being is inviolable because we are all the same and we must be equal under the law.”

According to the Associated Press, the original measure of the bill would have also banned discrimination in everything from commercial transactions to property rentals, but those clauses were removed after some religious groups voiced against them. Garcia Padilla also signed a bill that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to Puerto Rico’s domestic violence laws. 

2. lgbt slide 02


In early May 2013, Brazil’s National Council of Justice (led by chief justice of the country’s highest court Joaquim Barbosa, pictured here) ruled that notary publics cannot refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. This move opens the gates for gay couples across Brazil to tie the knot.

3. lgbt slide 03


Earlier this year, gay marriage was legalized by lawmakers in Uruguay. The bill, which was pegged the “marriage equality project,” received the backing of 71 of the 92 members of the South American country’s Chamber of Deputies present. Same-sex adoption has also been legal for couples in a civil union in Uruguay since 2009. 

4. lgbt slide 04

Mexico City

Back in 2009, Mexico City made many LGBT couples happy when its legislative assembly legalized same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. Pictured here are gay rights activists celebrating in Mexico City after same-sex marriage was legalized.

5. lgbt slide 05


In 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage for the LGBT community; the measure was heavily sponsored by Argentina’s president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Argentina’s Senate debated for nearly 15 hours over same-sex unions, finally voting 33 to 27 in favor of the measure. 

6. lgbt slide 06


In 2009, Bolivia’s Constitution declared it illegal to discriminate others based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, this still limits the legal union of same-sex marriages. In April 2012, a bill was introduced that would legalize same-sex unions – it is under consideration in the Legislative Assembly’s Commission on Human Rights.