Supreme Court Ruling Follows Decision Upholding Marriage Rights
August 16, 2010

The Supreme Court's ruling confirms that the state cannot withhold any legal rights on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation and gender identity. This decision will have resonance for courts throughout the continent for protecting the basic human rights of LGBT people.

Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch

(New York) - The landmark ruling on August 16, 2010, by Mexico's Supreme Court recognizing the right of same-sex couples to adopt children in Mexico City upholds the core principle of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in all aspects of their lives, including family life, Human Rights Watch said today.

Mexico's high court voted 9-2 to guarantee adoption for these couples. Last week it decided in favor of the right to same-sex marriage and made clear that other states in the country have to recognize the same-sex marriages that take place in Mexico City.

"The Supreme Court's ruling confirms that the state cannot withhold any legal rights on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation and gender identity," said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. "This decision will have resonance for courts throughout the continent for protecting the basic human rights of LGBT people."

The Supreme Court's decision came in response to a challenge brought by the federal attorney general's office to the December 2009 law in the Mexico City federal district that extended the definition of marriage to include marriage between same-sex couples.

The attorney general's office contended that the law breached the concept of family and the "best interest of the child" guaranteed in the constitution by allowing LGBT couples to adopt.

The court, however, said that the definition of a family is not restricted to one formed by a man and woman. The court cited the European Court of Human Rights judgment in E.B. v France, which held that a single lesbian woman could not be denied the right to adopt a child due to her sexual orientation and reiterated that same-sex couples should have the same rights to adopt as heterosexual couples and single parents to fully guarantee equality and freedom from discrimination. Finally, it made clear that the "best interest" of the child is to have a loving family, regardless of the sexes of the family members.

"The Supreme Court's decision is clear cut: prejudice should not interfere in guaranteeing family rights," Cano Nieto said. "The other states in Mexico should follow suit."

With this decision, Mexico becomes the 11th country in the world to provide LGBT people equal access to marriage, along with the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Argentina.

States including Iceland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom allow same-sex couples to adopt children jointly. Uruguay allows adoption by same-sex couples joined by a civil union. Denmark, Germany, and Norway permit one lesbian or gay partner to adopt the other's children.

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