What’s happening in Ecuador?
Ecuador is the latest country to have embraced marriage equality and legalised same-sex marriage.
The country’s Constitutional Court – Ecuador’s highest court on constitutional matters – has granted two gay couples the right to marry in a landmark case that has significantly expanded LGBTQ equality in Ecuador.
How did we get here?
Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Ecuador since 1997 when a court ruling overturned the relevant provisions with the country’s Penal Code.
However, the question of marriage equality has been a bit more problematic.
In 2008, the Constitution of Ecuador was amended to specifically limit marriage to being between a man and a woman. Separate provisions were made for same-sex couples in relationships – effectively legalising civil unions for same-sex couples, but excluding them from marriage.
Over the years, LGBTQ activists have attempted a number of legal challenges to try and establish marriage equality in Ecuador. Their efforts received a boost in 2018 with a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) which declared that the American Convention on Human Rights mandates and requires the recognition of same-sex marriage. The ruling was fully binding on Costa Rica and set a binding precedent for other Latin American and Caribbean countries – including Ecuador.
Following the IACHR ruling, two same-sex couples went to the Civil Registry in Cuenca, applying for marriage licenses. After both were rejected for not being a different-sex couple, they filed suit in court arguing that the refusal to recognise their marriage was discriminatory, unconstitutional and a violation of the American Convention on Human Rights. That case has been slowly working its way through Ecuador’s legal system, finally reaching the Constitutional Court for determination.
The decision issued on 12 June 2019 ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, making it legal throughout Ecuador.