We occasionally get inquires from members of the LGBT community about attitudes regarding gay couples and gay rights in Ecuador.
(See video of Correa below)
Ecuador has long been a leader in Latin American countries in passing beneficial gay rights legislation. In 1998, a new constitution became the first in the Americas to grant sexual orientation protected status. After President Rafael Correa took office in 2007, a change in the penal code made hate speech a crime and set severe punishment for anyone who incited hate against anyone based on their sexual orientation.
Correa in the past has been very liberal in his views regarding gay marriage and transgender rights. He is the first president of a Latin American country to appoint a lesbian to a cabinet post. When the most recent constitution was passed in 2008, it included a clause that said that marriage was defined as a union between a man and a woman. Correa opposed the clause saying he didn’t think it was necessary to limit marriage. However, he was opposed by a coalition of fundamentalist Christians and evangelicals and ultimately lost the battle.
Yet, on Monday, just two days after his inauguration, Correa shocked the world-wide LGBT community by going back on his previous commitments, saying that he was opposed to same sex marriage and would veto any bill passed by the legislature. He also said he was opposed to a recently proposed trans-gender law which would allow transgenders to change their sex on government documents. This change came just two months after he announced his support for the transgender bill.
Always the fighter, Correa explained his stance on gay rights to a town hall meeting after his inauguration:
“There is no other government, my friends, there is no other government that has done more for GLTBI groups than the government of the Civilian Revolution,” said Correa. “For example, the constitution recognizes civil unions. Right now two people of the same sex can live together, if one dies the other has inheritance rights. They have those rights because civil unions are recognized thanks to the Civilian Revolution.”
“We codified homophobia as a crime. Discrimination based on sexual discrimination. Thanks to the Civilian Revolution.”
“They have civil unions, homophobia is penalized, we have opened opportunities, the fight against discrimination. But if there is no gay marriage, then I am a traitor. All or nothing. Are we clear on that?”
“They should have a better strategy. They harm themselves and they harm us and it pains us because I believe that’s being ungrateful. But whatever, we are not here to demand gratitude. But they also harm themselves because they are making it easier for the return of the reactionary governments of the past and let’s see what they get from those governments.”
Here is an excellent article with many links and videos regarding the subject of gay rights in Ecuador.
Below is a video, with subtitles, of Correa addressing the town hall meeting.