Same-sex civil unions bill introduced in Peru

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Peruvian Congressman Carlos Bruce filed a draft bill proposal on same-sex civil unions Thursday, September 12 in Lima, Peru.

“We’re trying to end discrimination that a group of Peruvians face simply for having a different sexual orientation,” Carlos Bruce told Peru 21 on Thursday.

The bill proposes the creation of a new category under which same-sex couples can register and legalize their relationships. The idea is to grant rights which Peruvian heterosexual couples enjoy—such as social security, inheritance rights, and medical visit rights—to homosexual couples.

Congressman Bruce was very clear about the intention behind the bill; it’s not meant to challenge traditional views of marriage held in Peru.

“We’re not trying to change marriage,” said Bruce, “neither civil marriage or ceremonial marriage as a religious sacrament.”

In Latin American countries such as Peru, where Catholicism has a stronghold on cultural values and beliefs, the institution of marriage is considered sacred, and any threat to its inherent cultural and religious significance would be detrimental to advancing civil rights for the LGBT community.

Congressman Bruce stressed the added social value of allowing same-sex couples to register legally; they would be able to peacefully have kids, form families, and contribute to the social welfare of the state.

“But most importantly,” said Bruce, “these are people who are going to be happy.”

The proposed bill would not require any constitutional change in Peru, where the rights of every citizen are considered equal and protected under the law. While most rights that are granted to traditionally married heterosexual couples will be granted to those who register as civil partners, there is at least one right that will not be granted under the bill—the right to adopt children.

The reaction from different political and social leaders has been mixed, with Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Lima, stating on his radio show that civil unions are a caricature of the marriage sacrament, one that means to destroy marriage by trivializing it.

“This is an old strategy. First they put their foot in the door with this law and then they ask for marriage,” said Cardinal Cipriani on his radio show.

The Cardinal went on to say that congressmen are not elected to promote “their own agendas.”

“I assure [Cipriani] that I have not voted on my own behalf,” said Congressman Bruce on Saturday, September 14. “These are personal attacks that the Cardinal should not be making, and I won’t be responding to them because they lower the level of the debate.”

Twitter comments made by Carlos Tubino, a fellow colleague and Peruvian Congressman, incited an online debate after Tubino expressed his opposition to the proposed bill.

“Call it what you want,” said Turbino in one Twitter post, “the reality is that in Peru, the majority of citizens do not want Gay Marriage or adoption.”

The last time such a bill was introduced in Peru, back in 2010, it lost backing after it was believed that the constitution of Peru would have to be changed in order to support same-sex civil unions in the state. The last opinion poll on the matter, from 2010, reported that 21% of the population was in support of civil unions, with a higher percentage of supporters among the young and those who live in Lima, the state’s capital.

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