Panama will not recognize same-sex marriages

Panama’s Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human right and therefore the country is not required to recognize such unions. The court has been considering the issue since 2016 following several complaints from same-sex couples who argued that the Central American country’s family code was unconstitutional because it only recognized marriages between a man and a woman.

“There is a reality and that is that until now the right to equal marriage is nothing more than an aspiration, albeit a legitimate one for the affected groups, and does not fall into the category of a human right or a fundamental right,” the court said in its ruling on 16 February. The same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit sought to obtain legal recognition of marriages performed in other countries in Panama. However, the court said that “regardless of how many changes will occur in reality”, for now gay marriage “does not have conventional and constitutional recognition”. The court adds that the family code is “objectively and reasonably justified by the general interest to give priority to those unions which are capable of creating families, of giving continuity to the human species, and therefore to society”.

The Catholic Church, which opposes same-sex marriage, has significant political influence in Panama, writes BGNES. In 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same marriage rights as opposite-sex couples, in a binding ruling that applies to all members of the court, including Panama. However, Costa Rica remains the only Central American country to recognize same-sex marriage. With the Feb. 16 decision, the Panamanian judiciary “rejected the recognition of the dignity of same-sex couples and their right to create a family in Panama,” said Ivan Chanis, president of gay rights group Fundacion Iguales.

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