Peru court offers same-sex marriage hope for LGBTQ+ couples

A couple kiss as they hold up rainbow LGBTQ+ Pride flags during a march in Peru where advocates call for same-sex marriage laws, for queer people to be protected from discrimination and more

A high court in Peru has ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to have their marriages legally registered on public records in a victory for the South American country’s LGBTQ+ community. 

The ruling, published on Friday (21 July) by the Superior Court of Justice of Lima, ordered that the National Registry of Identification and Civil Status (RENIEC) “proceed with the registration” of a gay Peruvian citizen, who married her partner while abroad in 2019. 

The citizen sued RENIEC, which maintains Peru’s records of birth, marriage and divorce, after the registration office refused to put her marriage on the public records based on an article of the Peruvian civil code that defines marriage as a voluntary union between a man and a woman.

While homosexuality is legal in Peru, it is one of the few countries in South America that has no legal recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages or civil unions. 

The Lima court said the citizen’s constitutional rights were violated, and it declared that the article of the Peruvian Civil Code of 1984 on family, which has been used to deny the legal recognition of same-sex couples’ relationships, was “inapplicable”.

An appeal against the ruling will likely be lodged, Reuters reported. 

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This is not the first time that LGBTQ+ couples have fought for the right to be legally recognised in Peru. 

In 2017, a Peruvian court ordered the government to enter the marriage of LGBTQ+ rights activist Óscar Ugarteche and his partner on the register. But a court revoked that order in 2018.

In 2020, Peru’s constitutional court refused Ugarteche’s legal petition to register his marriage with RENIEC.

Peruvian congresswoman Susel Paredes and her wife, Gracia Aljovín, sued RENIEC for refusing to register their marriage, which took place in Miami, Florida in 2016. 

The couple tried to have their legal union entered into the civil registry in Peru, but the registration office refused their request. 

But in a 2019 ruling, a local court said authorities must treat the couple’s marriage as any other couple’s union, The Peruvian Times reported. 

A person holds up a rainbow LGBTQ+ flag during a march in Peru where advocates call for same-sex marriage laws, for queer people to be protected from discrimination and more
A 2019 court ruling criticised Peru for lagging behind other countries that recognise same-sex marriage and civil unions for LGBTQ+ couples. (Getty)

The ruling also noted that Peru is out of step with other South American countries that recognise same-sex marriages or queer couples’ civil unions. 

“Those of us who constitute a majority of heterosexual people must assume these changes with tolerance, evolving the legal concepts, while the rights and the concepts themselves are extended,” the ruling stated. 

“Societies must advance towards organisations and states of democratic tolerance, where minorities may accede to rights under equal conditions and without suffering, due to a certain condition, situations or norms that discriminate against them.”

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in ArgentinaBrazilUruguayColombiaChile and Ecuador

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