Bolivia approves first same-sex union following legal battle

Bolivia’s civil registry authorised for the first time a same-sex civil union following a two-year legal battle, a decision activists in the Andean nation hope will pave the way for an overhaul of the country’s marriage laws.

David Aruquipa, a 48-year-old businessman, and Guido Montano, a 45-year-old lawyer, were initially denied the right to register their union in 2018 by authorities in Bolivia, who said the country’s laws did not allow same-sex marriage.

The couple, together for more than 11 years, took their case to court.

While the Bolivian Constitution still does not permit same-sex unions, Montano and Aruquipa argued successfully the prohibition violated international human rights standards and constituted discrimination under Bolivian law.

“It is an initial step, but what inspires us is [the goal] of transforming the law,” said Aruquipa, a well-known local activist for LGBTQ causes.

In striking down the national civil registry’s previous resolution on the couple’s case, the court made clear that the country’s constitution requires laws and administrative procedures be interpreted in a way consistent with the principles of equality and non-discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.

The court also held that the civil registry had violated the couple’s due process rights, in part because it had not considered Bolivia’s international legal obligations.

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