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Ecuador: Constitutional Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage

(July 25, 2019) On June 12, 2019, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court (CC) upheld the right to same-sex marriage in the country, ruling in favor of two gay couples who had sued after their request to be married was denied by the country’s civil registry. (Corte Constitucional Aprueba Matrimonio Civil Igualitario en Ecuador, EL COMERCIO (June 12, 2019).)

While Ecuador legalized same-sex civil unions in 2015, same-sex partners were not granted the same legal rights and benefits as married couples. (Ecuador Reconoce la Unión de Hecho Homsexual como Estado Civil, ILGA-LAC (Apr. 22, 2015).)

According to the CC ruling, although article 67 of the Ecuadoran Constitution provides that marriage is between a man and a woman, the provision must be interpreted taking into consideration the constitutional principles of equal protection and nondiscrimination, thus recognizing the right of gay couples to marry. (CONSTITUCIÓN POLITICA DE LA REPÚBLICA DEL ECUADOR, REGISTRO OFICIAL (official gazette), Aug. 1, 1998, OAS website; Press Release, Corte Constitucional, Pleno de la Corte Constitucional Conoció los Casos 10-18-CN y 11-18-CN, sobre Matrimonio Igualitario (June 12, 2019), Constitutional Court website.)

The ruling further instructs the Ecuador’s National Assembly to pass legislation amending civil laws to ensure equal treatment for same sex couples. (Pleno de la Corte Constitucional Conoció los Casos 10-18-CN y 11-18-CN, sobre Matrimonio Igualitario, supra.)

Those members of the CC who voted against the ruling maintained that the proper way of recognizing same-sex marriage was through a constitutional amendment passed by the National Assembly and not through a court decision. (Id.)