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People celebrate after the Ecuador's Constitutional Court approved equal civil marriage, in Guayaquil, Ecuador on June 12, 2019. Source: Marcos Pin/AFP

Ecuador legalises same-sex marriages in landmark ruling

After over a week of postponing its decision on the legality of same-sex marriages, Ecuador’s apex court has issued a ruling in favour of same-sex marriages on Wed (12 Jun), following two lawsuits by two same-sex couples intending to wed.

Five out of the nine judges presiding over the closed hearing in the Latin American nation’s constitutional court voted to recognise same-sex marriage – a momentous move in a highly conservative, Catholic Ecuadorian society – on the grounds of ensuring equal treatment for all, and on the basis of fighting discrimination.

The four dissenting judges, however, argued that a debate on constitutional reform must be carried out in the National Assembly in order for legal recognition of same-sex marriages to be able to take place, France24 reported.

Former Supreme Court president Gustavo Medina told AFP that the decision will be “binding and mandatory” upon Ecuadorian officials.

Ecuador’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage succeeds that of Argentina, which became the first Latin American nation to do so in 2010, followed by Brazil in 2013 and Colombia in 2016, PinkNews reported.

NewNowNext reported that despite the ruling by Family, Women, Children and Adolescents Court made in favour of same-sex marriage last year, Ecuador’s constitution was not updated to reflect the decision, which resulted in two same-sex couples’ applications for marriage licences being denied by the Civil Registry.

Lawyer Christian Paula of the Patka Foundation, which provides legal advice for around 10 same-sex couples seeking to marry in the country, said that the new court ruling indicated a “more egalitarian” Ecuador.

“It is more just than yesterday, that it recognises that human rights must be for all people without discrimination,” Paula added.

However, despite measures to protect the rights of LGBTQ people such as the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage by the Constitutional Court and the outlawing of “conversion therapy“, Ecuador remains a largely homophobic and transphobic society, as seen in abusive practices against LGBTQ persons such as “corrective” rape and other forms of physical violence.