Panama’s Supreme Court has ruled against same-sex marriage, saying it is not a human right, closing the door on establishing the practice through court rulings.
“There is a reality, and that is that, so far, the right to equal marriage is no more than an aspiration, even though it is legitimate for the groups involved, and does not fall into the category of a human right or a fundamental right,” the court said in the ruling. dated February 16, but released on March 1.
The case arose from same-sex couples married in other countries seeking to have their unions recognized in Panama.
But the court ruled that “no matter how many changes actually occur,” same-sex marriage “lacks contractual and constitutional recognition,” Agence France-Presse reported.
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The Supreme Court implied in its ruling that the country’s Family Code prioritized unions “capable of establishing families in continuation of the human species, and therefore, of society,” according to Newsroom Panama.
A committee established in 2022 considered the issue, hearing from members of the public who spoke about their reasons for seeking same-sex marriage, civil rights activists and a delegation from the National Government of Panama.
Yamileth Garces, a Panamanian woman seeking recognition of her marriage, said the country “separates us … minimizes our value before society … condemns us to live in darkness.”
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The decision also complicates issues of inheritance law and creates difficulties with potential medical decisions among other legal issues.
The new decision will also require some reconciliation with a 2018 ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which ruled that same-sex couples had the same rights as heterosexual couples, which applied to all members — including Panama.
Iván Chanis Barahona, a lawyer and human rights activist who currently serves as president of Fundación Iguales, told Human Rights Watch that same-sex couples are “invisible” in the country.
“Recently, the National Assembly of Panama passed a new adoption law, which included a ban on adoption by same-sex couples,” Barahona said. “Although the president partially vetoed this law, he did not object to these discriminatory provisions.”
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In Central America, only Costa Rica independently recognizes same-sex marriage, and some believe the strong presence of the Catholic Church in the region influences decisions.
But Pope Francis recently ruled that same-sex marriage is not a crime, but remains a sin in the eyes of the church.
“Being gay is not a crime,” Francis told The Associated Press. “It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first, let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.”
The Pope also referred to how some Catholic bishops support laws criminalizing homosexuality in some parts of the world. He also referred to the issue in terms of “sin,” but said bishops and others should undergo a process of changing their thinking to recognize the dignity of all people.
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“These bishops must have a process of conversion,” he said, saying bishops must observe the same “tenderness, as God has for each of us.”
Lawrence Richard of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.