Latin American homosexuals are demanding attention, becoming a force to be reckoned with—in the public eye and also in politics. Society is quickly changing, particularly in Mexico.
Mexico City has passed a law allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, granting rights similar to those of traditional marriage. Before the law was put into effect, the northern Mexican state of Coahuila introduced, passed and enacted a similar law—a process that took only three months.
The speed at which both legislations were put into place has left some homosexuals surprised at their newfound rights, and opponents to the law are afraid that the country is spiraling into overt permissiveness. A few years ago, this law would not have seen the light of day.
Mexico has deep roots in conservative Catholicism, as more than 90% of the population is Catholic. With this majority comes the prevailing mindset that an Economist article calls a “‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ tolerance of private foibles.” The Catholic Church in Mexico has put forth surprisingly little effort to condemn the law.
There are groups that oppose the new law on same-sex unions, saying that it will lead to the destruction of the family unit. They also fear this is only the beginning—that homosexuals will next desire legal marriages and even the adoption of children.
Recent events have demonstrated that the mindset of Mexico’s people and government is changing. The wildly popular singer Christian Chavez recently announced that he is homosexual, the first Mexican celebrity to do so publicly. Mexico City’s government also decided to allow same-sex conjugal visits for prisoners. And a ruling by the Mexican Supreme Court declared that soldiers infected with HIV cannot legally be removed from the military.
For now, the public is split on whether civil unions for same-sex couples should be legal. According to a poll by Consulta Mitofsky, 45.7% of the population agrees homosexuals should have the same rights as heterosexual couples; 47.3% disagree.
Homosexuals have lived in Mexico for years, but have kept their lifestyles secret, and with good reason. Although Mexico has made strides toward “gay rights” in the past months, it is still a hotbed for “hate crimes”—especially against homosexuals. While it is becoming more and more common to see homosexual couples showing affection in public, it can still be dangerous for them.
Of the nation’s 105 million people, 10 million are reported to be homosexual.
After seeing moves similar to these in Europe and America, it is not entirely surprising to see this law pass in Mexico. What is startling is how swiftly this liberal mindset is sweeping a generally traditionalist country. More rights for homosexual couples are now being proposed for Mexican law. A Copley News Service article quoted David Sanchez, an openly gay federal congressman in Mexico, who stated, “There is going to be a domino effect across the country. This movement cannot be stopped.”