|LGBT rights in Mexico|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1871|
|Gender identity/expression||Transgender persons can change their legal gender and name in Mexico City since 2008|
|Same-sex marriage in
Mexico City (effective March 2010).
Civil unions in Coahuila since 2007.
|Adoption||Joint adoption legal in Mexico City
(effective March 2010).
Nationwide, single gay persons may adopt.
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation protection nationwide since 2003 (see below)|
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights in Mexico have expanded in recent years, in keeping with worldwide legal trends. The intellectual influence of the French Revolution and the brief French occupation of Mexico (1862-67) resulted in the adoption of the Napoleonic Penal Code, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1871. However, laws against public immorality or indecency could be used against homosexual acts. The age of consent at which there are no restrictions for consensual sexual activities, regardless of sexual orientation, is 18. Mexican states have a "primary" age of consent, which may be as low as 12, and sexual conduct with persons below that age is always illegal. Sexual relations between adults and teenagers are left in a legal gray area, with situational laws that are subject to interpretation.
The social environment in most of Mexico remains repressive, and often dangerous. Machista ideals of manly appearance and behavior contribute to extreme prejudices against LGBT people, especially effeminate men, and often to violence against them. Lack of interest in investigating such cases is common and police often assumes that homosexuals are responsible for the attacks against them. The Roman Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a sin further contributes to intolerance, and is seen to provide moral sanction for mistreatment.
Nonetheless, as the influence of foreign and internal cultures, especially from progressive Mexico City, grows in all of Mexico, attitudes are beginning to change. Remarkably in the largest metropolitan areas such as Guadalajara, Monterrey and Tijuana, where education and access to foreigners and foreign news media are greatest. But change continues to be slow in the hinterlands, and even in the big cities discomfort with change often leads to backlashes. Tolerance for sexual diversity in certain indigenous cultures is widely seen, especially among Isthmus Zapotecs and Yucatán Mayas. Since the early 1970s, influenced by the U.S. gay liberation movement and the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, a substantial number of LGBT organizations has emerged, and visible and well-attended LGBT marches and pride parades have occurred in Mexico City since 1979 and in Guadalajara since 1996.
Political and legal gains have been made through the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and other leftist but minor parties such as the Labor Party (PT) and Convergence, and occasionally the centrist and long-governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Some of them include the 2001 amendment to Article 1 of the Federal Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation under the vague term preferences, the 2003 federal anti-discrimination law and the recognition of same-sex civil unions in Mexico City and Coahuila. Recently, Mexico City legalized same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, the law will become effective in March 2010.
In the early 1970s, influenced by the U.S. gay liberation movement and the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, some small political and cultural groups were formed, and initially strongly linked to the political left and, to some degree, to feminists organizing. One of the first LGBT groups in Latin America was the Homosexual Liberation Front (Frente de Liberación Homosexual), organized in 1971, in response to the firing of a Sears employee because of his supposedly homosexual behavior in Mexico City.[1 ] The Homosexual Front of Revolutionary Action (Frente Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria) protested the 1983 roundups in Guadalajara, Jalisco. The onset of AIDS in the mid-1980s created considerable debate and public discussion about homosexuality. Many voices, both supportive and oppositional, such as the Roman Catholic Church, participated in public discussions that increased awareness and understanding of homosexuality. LGBT groups were instrumental in initiating programs to combat AIDS, a shift in focus that curtailed, at least temporarily, emphasis on gay organizing.[1 ]
In 1991, Mexico hosted a meeting of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA), the first it had met outside of Europe.[1 ] In 1997, LGBT activists were active in constructing the political platform that resulted in Patria Jiménez, a lesbian activist in Mexico City, being selected for a proportional representation in the Chamber of Deputies representing the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).[1 ] And LGBT rights advocate David Sánchez Camacho was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District (ALDF). In August 1999, the First Meeting of Lesbians and Lesbian Feminists was held in Mexico City. From this meeting evolved an organized effort for expanded LGBT rights in the country's capital. The following month, the PRD-controlled Legislative Assembly passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, the first of its kind in Mexico at the time.
Visible and well-attended LGBT marches and pride parades have occurred in Mexico City since 1979 and in Guadalajara since 1996, the country's largest cities.[1 ] In 2001, Article 1 from the Federal Constitution was amended to prohibit discrimination based, among other factors, on sexual orientation under the vague term preferences. Two year later, a federal law anti-discrimination was passed, which created a national council to enforce it, and went into effect on 11 June.[6 ] The same year, Amaranta Gómez ran as the first transgender congresswoman candidate under the affiliation of the defunct Mexico Posible. In 2006, Mexico City legalized same-sex civil unions. The second Latin American jurisdiction to do so after Buenos Aires, Argentina legalized them in 2002. The law allows same-sex couples to gain access to inheritance and pension rights.[8 ] The following year, the northern state of Coahuila legalized same-sex civil unions. In 2008, the PRD-controlled Legislative Assembly approved a law that allows transgender people to change their legal gender and name in Mexico City.  In December 2009, Mexico City's Legislative Assembly passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in the jurisdiction, which will become effective in March 2010.
LGBT people in Mexico have organized in a variety of ways, through local organizations, marches, and the development of a Commission to Denounce Hate Crimes. Mexico has a thriving LGBT movement with organizations in various large cities throughout the country and numerous LGBT publications. More prominently in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana and Puebla. The vast majority of them at the local level, with national efforts often coming apart before they begin.
In 29 April 2003, the Federal Congress unanimously passed the "Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination" that includes sexual preferences as a protected category. The law, which went into effect on 11 June 2003, creates the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED), a body created to enforce it. Mexico became the second country in Latin America, after Ecuador to provide anti-discrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Article 4 of the law defines discrimination as:
"Every distinction, exclusion or restriction based on ethnic or national origin, sex, age, disability, social or economic status, health, pregnancy, language, religion, opinion, sexual preferences, civil status or any other, that impedes recognition or enjoyment or fights and real equality in terms of opportunities for people."
– Article 4 of the "Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination".
Article 9 defines as "discriminatory behavior", among others:
"Impeding access to public or private education; prohibiting free choice of employment, restricting access, permanency or promotion in employment; denying or restricting information on reproductive rights; denying medical services; impeding participation in civil, political or any other kind of organizations; impeding the exercise of property rights; offending, ridiculing or promoting violence through messages and images displayed in communications media; impeding access to social security and its benefits; impeding access to any public service or private institution providing services to the public; limiting freedom of movement; exploiting or treating in an abusive or degrading way; restricting participation in sports, recreation or cultural activities; incitement to hatred, violence, rejection, ridicule, defamation, slander, persecution or exclusion; promoting or indulging in physical or psychological abuse based on physical appearance or dress, talk, mannerisms or for openly acknowledging one's sexual preferences."
– Article 9 of the "Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination".
CONAPRED is an organ of state created by the "Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination," adopted on 29 April 2003, and published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on 11 June of the same year. The Council is the leading institution for promoting policies and measures to contribute to cultural development and social progress in ensuring social inclusion and the right to equality, which is the first of fundamental rights in the Federal Constitution.[6 ] CONAPRED is also responsible for receiving and resolving grievances and complaints of alleged discriminatory acts committed by private individuals or federal authorities in carrying out their duties. Also, the CONAPRED develops actions to protect all the citizens of any distinction or exclusion based on any aspect mentioned on Article 4 of the Federal Law.[6 ] The Council has legal personality and own property, and is sectorial to the Interior Ministry. Moreover, autonomy technical and management's decisions in full independence, and is not subject to any authority for its resolutions on the procedures for claims or complaints.[6 ]
Homosexuality is not illegal in Mexico but LGBT people have been prosecuted through the use of legal codes that regulate obscene or lurid behavior (atentados à la moral y las buenas costumbres). Over the past two decades, there have been reports of violence against homosexual men, including the murders of openly gay men in Mexico City and of transvestites in southern state of Chiapas. Local activists note that often these cases remain unsolved, blaming the police for lack of interest in investigating them and for assuming that homosexuals are responsible for the attacks against them.[1 ]
In mid-2007, Emilio Alvarez Icaza Longoria, then-chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, said he was deeply concerned that Mexico City has the worst record for hate crime because of homophobia, with 137 crimes between 1995 and 2005. Likewise, the journalist and author of the book, "Homophobia. Hate, Crime and Justice, 1995-2005", Fernando del Collado affirmed that during the decade covered in the edition 387 hate crimes due to homophobia were committed in Mexico, 98% of which has gone unpunished up until now. The author expressed his concern that there is a high level of impunity and indicated that to take the testimony of one of the institutions, that of the Citizens Commission Against Hate Crime because of Homophobia (CCCOH) which has reported three homosexuals are murdered per month in Mexico. Del Collado indicated that between 1995 and 2005, 126 homosexuals were violently murdered in Mexico City, those of which 75% were reclaimed by their families; in 10% of the cases families identified the victim but did not reclaim their bodies, which ended up in common graves; and the remaining 5% were never identified.
Ex-assistant attorney for attention of crime victims of the Federal District Attorney General's Office (PGJDF), Barbara Illan Rondero, strongly criticized the lack of sensitivity and professionalism on the part of the investigators of the crimes committed against homosexuals and lesbians.
|“||I still can't determine if this is due to negligence, lack of preparation or down-right covering up, and is a matter that has to do with the intention of not solving these crimes because they carry no weight of importance||”|
Alejandro Brito Lemus, director of the news supplement "Letra S" (Letter S), claimed that only 4% of gays and lesbians that suffer from discrimination present their complaints to the corresponding authorities.
|“||In spite of the gravity of the aggressions suffered, the majority of gays, lesbians and transsexuals prefer to keep silent about what happens and to remain isolated in fear of being attacked again in revealing their sexual orientation.||”|
LGBT participation is discreetly seen in the long-governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Ever since the triumph of the Liberals under President Benito Juárez in the 1860s and the 1910 Revolution, there has been a strong separation of church and state in Mexico. With morality generally considered the province of the Church, the PRI, which considers itself the party of the Revolution, has generally been reluctant to be seen as carrying out the will of the Catholic Church. Yet it has also been mindful of not offending Catholic moral sensibilities.[15 ] In 1998, then-President Ernesto Zedillo (PRI) appointed Pedro Joaquín-Coldwell, an openly bisexual politician and former governor of Quintana Roo, ambassador to Cuba. Nonetheless, most individual office holders tend to view LGBT issues as a private matter to be ignored or a moral problem to be opposed. The PRI has allied with the PAN to block any legislation concerning LGBT rights in some states, except for two cases. The party unanimously voted in favor of the recognition of same-sex civil unions in Mexico City and Coahuila. The events generated some internal debate within the PRI about whether or not the party should have platform plank on the matter.
The National Action Party (PAN), a center-right party, tends to endorse Roman Catholic Church teachings and oppose LGBT issues on moral grounds. Some PAN mayors have adopted ordinances or policies that have led to the closing of gay bars, or detention of transvestites, usually on charges of prostitution.[15 ] Many of its leaders have taken public stands variously describing homosexuality as "abnormal", as a "sickness", or as a "moral weakness."[15 ] In the 2000 presidential elections, then-PAN candidate and eventual winner Vicente Fox used homosexual stereotypes as a way to demean and humiliate his principal opponent, Francisco Labastida, by accusing him of being a sissy and a mama's boy, and nicknamed him Lavestida (literally the cross-dressed). When Mexico City and Coahuila legalized same-sex civil unions, the main opposition came from the PAN, former President Vicente Fox and current-President Felipe Calderón. Since then, the party has opposed to similar bills under the argument of protecting traditional family values. Nonetheless, PAN officials have insisted that homosexuals have rights as human beings, and should in no case be subjected to hatred or physical violence.[15 ]
Participation by sexual minorities is widely accepted in the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), one of Mexico's three major political parties. Since its creation in the late 1980s, the PRD has supported LGBT rights and has a specific party program committed to ending discrimination on the basis of sexual diversity. In the 1997 parliamentary elections, Patria Jiménez became the first openly lesbian member of the Federal Congress, and LGBT rights advocate David Sánchez Camacho was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District (ALDF). Two years later, the PRD-controlled Legislative Assembly passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, the first of its kind in the country at the time. In 2008, a PRD-backed bill concerning gender identity was passed, which allows transgender people to change their gender and sex on official documents.  In the 2009 parliamentary elections, out of the 38 LGBT candidatures presented by several political parties, only Enoé Uranga succeeded, an openly lesbian politician who in 2000 promoted the legalization of same-sex civil unions in Mexico City.[23 ] The bill successfully passed six years later in the PRD-controlled Legislative Assembly, allowing same-sex couples to gain access to inheritance and pension rights.[8 ] Similar bills have been proposed by the PRD in at least six states. In December 2009, Mexico City's PRD-controlled Legislative Assembly passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in the jurisdiction. Eight days later after congressional approval, Head of Government ("Mayor") Marcelo Ebrard signed the same-sex marriage bill into law, which will go into effect in 45 working days, beginning in March 2010. Other leftist but minor parties are Convergence and the Labor Party (PT). Both have continuously supported the LGBT community and PRD-proposed bills regarding LGBT rights.
The extinct Social Democratic Party (PSD), a minor progressive political party, was prominently noted by its wide support for the LGBT community. In the 2006 presidential elections, Patricia Mercado, the first woman presidential candidate, was the only one who openly supported same-sex marriage. In the 2009 parliamentary elections, nominated 32 LGBT candidates, out of a total of 38 presented by other parties, for seats in the Federal Congress. Meanwhile, in the municipality of Guadalajara, the second-largest city of Mexico, Miguel Galán became the first openly gay politician to run for a mayorship in the country.[23 ] During campaign, Galán was a target of homophobic comments, notably by Green Party rival Gamaliel Ramirez, who on a radio show cracked crude jokes about homosexuals and referred to the PSD as "a dirty party of degenerates". Ramirez also called homosexual practices "abnormal" that should be outlawed. The following days Ramirez issued a written apology after his party condemned his comments. Despite losing the mayorship, Galán received a total of 7,122 votes, the most for any openly gay politician in Mexico.
The United Mexican States is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal District, the capital city, also known as Mexico City. Even though a Federal Civil Code exists, each state has its own which is usually exactly the same as the Civil Code for the Federal District, and regulates, among other factors, concubinage and marriage. Same-sex civil unions and same-sex marriages are not recognized at the federal level. However, in recent years some states have been considering legislating in the matter.
Being the seat of the Powers of the Union, Mexico City did not belong to any particular state but to all. After years of demanding greater political autonomy, residents were given the right to directly elect the Head of Government of the Federal District and the representatives of the unicameral Legislative Assembly (ALDF) by popular vote in 1997. Ever since, the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has controlled both political powers.
In 2000, Enoé Uranga, an openly lesbian politician and activist, proposed a bill that would have legalized same-sex civil unions in Mexico City under the name Ley de Sociedades de Convivencia (LSC, Law for Coexistence Partnerships).[23 ] The bill recognized inheritance and pension rights of two adults, regardless of sexual orientation. Following widespread opposition from right-wing groups and then-mayor Andres Manuel López Obrador's ambiguity concerning the bill, the Legislative Assembly decided not to take it up. As new leftist Mayor Marcelo Ebrard was expected to take power in December 2006, the Legislative Assembly voted to approve (43-17) the LSC, fully backed by the four leftist parties (PRD, PT, Convergence and PSD) and the PRI, and opposed by the PAN. The law was well-received by feminist and LGBT groups, including Emilio Álvarez Icaza, then-chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City. And it was strongly opposed by right-wing groups such as the National Parent Union and the Roman Catholic Church. The law officially took effect on 16 March 2007.
On 24 November 2009, PRD assemblyman David Razú proposed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Mexico City. The bill was backed by the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, and over 600 non-governmental organizations, including the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), International Amnesty (AI) and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The PAN announced it will either go to the courts to appeal the law or demand a referendum. However, a referendum on same-sex marriage was rejected by the Legislative Assembly in a 36-22 vote on 18 December 2009.[33 ] On 21 December 2009, the Legislative Assembly passed (39-20) the bill. Eight days later, Head of Government ("Mayor") Marcelo Ebrard signed the same-sex marriage bill into law, which will go into effect in 45 working days, beginning in March 2010. The law changes the definition of marriage in the city's Civil Code from "a free union between a man and a woman" to "a free union between two people." The law would grant same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples, including adopting children.[35 ] The PAN has vowed to challenge the law in the courts.[35 ]
On 11 January 2007, in a 20-13 vote the Congress of the northern state of Coahuila legalized same-sex civil unions under the name Pacto Civil de Solidaridad (Civil Pact of Solidarity, PCS), which gives property and inheritance rights to same-sex couples. The PCS was proposed by congresswoman Julieta López of the centrist PRI, whose 19 members voted for the law. Luis Alberto Mendoza, deputy of the center-right PAN, which opposed, said the new law was an "attack against the family, which is society's natural group and is formed by a man and a woman". Other than that, the PCS drew little opposition. It was notably supported by Bishop Raúl Vera. Unlike Mexico City's law, once same-sex couples have registered in Coahuila, the state protects their rights no matter where they live in the country. Twenty days after the law passed, the country's first same-sex civil union took place in Saltillo, Coahuila.
Similar bills have been proposed by the PRD in at least six states. On 7 December 2006, a similar bill to that of Mexico City was proposed in Puebla. But it faced strong opposition and criticism from deputies of the PRI and PAN, who declared that "the traditional family is the only social model, and there cannot be another one."[37 ] In July 2009, the PRD introduced a formal initiative to legalize civil unions in the western state of Colima. Nevertheless, the following month, the local legislature decided not to take up the initiative, following widespread opposition from right-wing groups. On 13 November 2006, in neighboring state of Michoacán, it was announced that a similar bill would be formally proposed. However, as of August 2009, it has been stalled, meaning it has not been discussed by the local congress. Other states include Jalisco, Guerrero and Tabasco. After Mexico City's Legislative Assembly legalized same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in December 2009, debate resurged in states where civil unions had been previously proposed. In the western state of Michoacán, the PRD has announced it will propose both bills in 2010. In neighboring Colima, PRI governor Mario Anguiano Moreno has agreed to discuss the legalization of civil unions and adoption by same-sex couples.
According to the First National Poll on Discrimination (2005) in Mexico which was carried out by the CONAPRED, 48% of the Mexican people interviewed indicated that they would not permit a homosexual to live in their house. 95% of the homosexuals interviewed indicated that in Mexico there is discrimination against them; four out of ten declared they were victim of acts of exclusion; more than half said they felt rejected; and six out of ten felt their worst enemy was society.
Although overall public displays of homosexual affection or cross-dressing are still taboo in most parts of Mexico, LGBT social life tends to thrive in the country's largest cities and resorts. The visible center of the LGBT community is the Zona Rosa, in Mexico City, where over 50 gay bars and dance clubs exist. Surrounding the country's capital, there is a sizable amount in the State of Mexico. Some observers claim that gay life is more developed in Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara. Other large cities include border city Tijuana, northern city Monterrey, centrist cities Puebla and León, and major port city Veracruz. The popularity of gay tourism especially in Puerto Vallarta, Cancún and elsewhere has also brought more national attention to the presence of homosexuality in Mexico.[50 ] Among some young, urban heterosexuals, it has become popular to attend gay dance clubs and to have openly gay friends.[50 ]
In 1979, the country's first LGBT Pride Parade, also known as LGBT Pride March, was held and attended by over one thousand people in Mexico City. Ever since, it has been held every June without interruption under different slogans with the aims of bringing visibility to sexual minorities, fomenting consciousness about AIDS and HIV, denouncing homophobia and demanding the creation of public policies such as the recognition of same-sex civil unions and same-sex marriages and the legalization of LGBT adoption, among others. According to organizers, in its latest edition, the XXXI LGBT Pride Parade was attended by over 350,000 people, 100,000 more than its predecessor. In 2003, the first Lesbian Pride March occurred in the country's capital. In Guadalajara, well-attended LGBT Pride Parades have been held also every June since 1996.  LGBT Pride Parades have continuously occurred in Monterrey, Tijuana, Puebla, Veracruz, Xalapa, Cuernavaca, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Acapulco, Chilpancingo, and Mérida. 
The first AIDS case in Mexico was diagnosed in 1983. Based on retrospective analyses and other public health investigation techniques, HIV in Mexico can be traced back to 1981. LGBT groups were instrumental in initiating programs to combat AIDS, a shift in focus that curtailed, at least temporarily, emphasis on gay organizing.[1 ]
The National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (CENSIDA) is a program that promotes the prevention and the control of the AIDS pandemic, by means of public policies, promotion of the sexual health and other strategies based on the evidence to diminish the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (VIH) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and to improve the quality of life of the affected people, in a frame of respect to the rights of all the population. CENSIDA has been active since 1988 and collaborates with other government entities as well as with non-governmental organizations including those of persons living with HIV/AIDS.
With 0.3 percent of the adult population estimated to be HIV-positive, Mexico has one of the lowest HIV prevalence rates in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although the overall HIV prevalence is low, UNAIDS estimates that, because of Mexico's large population, approximately 200,000 people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2007. The second largest affected population in the region after Brazil, which had 730,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. According to CENSIDA, as of 2009, over 220,000 adults are HIV-positive; 60% are men who have sex with men (MSM), 23% are heterosexual women, and 6% are commercial sex workers' clients, mainly heterosexuals. Over 90% of the reported cases were the result of sexual transmission.
The spread of HIV/AIDS in Mexico is exacerbated by stigma and discrimination (S&D), which act as a barrier to prevention, testing, and treatment. S&D occur within families, health services, the police, and the workplace. A study conducted by Infante-Xibille in 2004 of 373 health care providers in three states in Mexico described discrimination within health services. HIV testing was conducted only with perceived high-risk groups, often without informed consent. Patients with AIDS were often isolated. A 2005 five-city participatory community assessment by Colectivo Sol, a non-governmental organization, found that some HIV hospital patients had a sign over their beds stating they were HIV-positive. There was also discrimination in the workplace. In León, Guanajuato, researchers found that seven out of 10 people in the study had lost their jobs because of their HIV status. The same study also documented evidence of discrimination that MSM experienced within their families.
In August 2008, Mexico hosted the 17th International AIDS Conference, a meeting that contributed to breaking down stigmas and highlighting the achievements in the struggle against the illness. In late 2009, José Ángel Córdova, Health Secretary, said in a statement that Mexico has met the United Nation Millennium Development Goal concerning HIV/AIDS that demands that countries halt and begin to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS before 2015. The infection rate for HIV is 0.4 percent at this time, below the 0.6 percent target set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for Mexico. About 70 percent of the people requesting treatment for HIV/AIDS arrive without symptoms of the disease, which increases life expectancy by at least 25 years. Treatment against HIV/AIDS in Mexico is free and is currently offered at 57 specialized clinics to 30,000 of the 60,000 people living with HIV. The Mexican government spends about $2 billion MXN ($155 million USD) each year on fighting the disease.