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Equality bill provokes rabid reaction from Jalisco’s right

October 1, 2013

Conservative groups have mobilized in an effort to block the passage of a law that would enhance the rights of same-sex couples in Jalisco.

While falling short of legalizing gay marriage, the Ley de Libre Convivencia would provide homosexual couples with the same rights as married heterosexuals regarding social security, inheritance and guardianship over children in case of bereavement. The bill met the approval of the Jalisco Congress’ Human Development Commission last week but has yet to be voted on by the full State Congress.

As soon as the commission approved the bill, local conservative and Catholic organizations began circulating an email said to include “precise instructions” from the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, on preventing the “immoral” legislation from receiving full congressional approval. Listing the personal details, including phone numbers and email addresses, of every state deputy, the email urged recipients to contact them one by one and implore them not to vote for the bill.

The email branded those in favour of the bill as “enemies of the church” and falsely implied that the new law would legalize “gay marriage, adoption and abortion.” Within days, many deputies had received hundreds – and in some cases thousands – of emails, including many of an intimidating or abusive nature.

Enrique Velazquez Gonzalez of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) said he suspected that the contact information had been leaked by a fellow deputy, but doubted that the instructions had really been sent by the Cardinal.

“Human rights must be defended. The majority should not make decisions for the minority. This is not what happened with the abolition of slavery, or the vote for women. The state is obliged to ensure that we are all equal, but some people are still living in the medieval ages,” Velazquez said.

“New legislation is not necessary, there are enough laws already!” responded Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, the outspoken former Archbishop of Guadalajara, this week, while several wives of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) deputies were even accosted at their children’s schools by parents who fear the bill could lead to same-sex couples winning the same rights to marriage and adoption that they already enjoy.

As a result of the recent pressure, at least two PRI deputies have retracted their support for the bill, while the liberal Citizens Movement has yet to define its stance on the matter. The bill was introduced by two members of the PRD along with one independent deputy. Several PRI deputies also support the initiative, although the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) is firmly against it.

The controversial bill has not received universal approval among Jalisco’s LGBT community, some of whom have criticized it for failing to include the legalization of same-sex marriage or recognition of the rights of gay couples who are already raising children.

“It is a complete mockery of the rights of all gay and lesbian people in the state,” Lorena Valadez, a representative of the Network of Lesbian Mothers in Western Mexico, told Spanish-language daily Mural.

Despite the bill’s shortcomings, if it were passed it would prove a major stepping stone toward sexual orientation equality in one of Mexico’s most Catholic and conservative states, perhaps becoming a catalyst for wider, more substantial change. When a similar law was passed in Mexico City in 2006, it eventually paved the way for the legalization of gay marriage in the capital in 2010.

Even if the bill is not passed, Jalisco’s first same-sex union could soon take place in Guadalajara. As previously reported, a federal judge granted a local lesbian couple the right to wed last month, overruling the Guadalajara Civil Registry Office, which had refused to marry the pair in March.

The Civil Registry Office has yet to announce whether or not it plans to abide by the judge’s ruling and facilitate a landmark moment in the history of the state.

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