Treaty shelved over fears about same-sex marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A vote on an international treaty in Peru has been put on hold after a heated debate erupted over whether the treaty would lead to legal support for same-sex partnerships.

A congressional vote on the Iberian-American Convention on the Rights of Youth-an international treaty that establishes a core set of legal standards to protect young people-was shelved and the resolution sent back to the Peruvian Commission of International Relations for further study.

According to newspaper La Razon, the issue was with articles five and 14 of the treaty, which refer to language prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and the right to one’s sexual identity, and article 20.1 which speaks of the right to build a family – which some legislators argued clashed with the Peruvian constitution.

La Razon says another article, which would require a ban on the death penalty for young men between 18 and 24 years of age, also clashed with the country’s constitution.

The newspaper says that many legislators showed support for sanctioning the treaty as it was written including “the right to choose who to marry.”

Congressman Yonhy Lescano told La Razon that a person’s right to individual liberty could not be infringed, but that he didn’t think that ratifying the treaty would necessarily lead to same-sex marriage, as Peruvian law prohibits it.

Congresswoman Rosario Sasieta said that Congress should remember the contributions made by the homosexual community to Peru and suggested that the country needed to be more inclusive than ever by adopting the treaty.

Javier Valle-Riestra stated that if people “are afraid that a young person can have a predetermined sexual identity, it won’t be eliminated by a norm. An orientation is irrepressible. It’s a natural right.”

The treaty was put on hold after a petition for removal was filed by Congressman Alejandro Aurelio Aguinaga Recuenco, the Director of the Commission of International Relations.

Stating that he did not oppose a young person’s right to his or her sexual orientation, Aguinaga Recuenco argued that the non-discrimination language as linked to sexual orientation would make denying same-sex marriage rights or adoptions rights to homosexuals discriminatory acts according to Expreso.

He was backed by Raul Castro, the President of the Commission of Justice, who agreed with Aguinaga Recuenco that the treaty would open the doors to same-sex marriage.

The treaty, signed in Spain in 2005 by representatives of 19 Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal, has already been ratified and adopted by Spain, Ecuador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Only one of those countries allows same-sex partners to marry and the decision to recognise same-sex partnerships in that nation had nothing to do with this treaty nor has the treaty led to same-sex marriage in the other four countries.

Peru has a unicameral Congress consisting of 120 members. The Homosexual Movement of Lima (MOHL) says that the vote to shelve the treaty was backed by 57 members of the legislative body recommending that the language on sexual orientation that drew reservations be eliminated.

MOHL questioned media coverage of the debate noting that the treaty at issue does not mention same-sex marriage in any of its articles and expressed concern that the move to send back the treaty might end up stripping protections for LGBT youth and establishing heterosexuality as the only “normal sexuality” in Peru.

Although homosexuality is legal in Peru, the legal union between two adults of the same sex is not permitted. The homosexual rights movement in the country has been slow to take hold. MOHL was founded in 1983 but it was not until 2002 that Peru’s first gay pride parade was held.