Bolivia’s first Same-Sex Union – history is being made!

After a two-year legal battle Guido and David could finally get their status recognised by the law. Could this first gay civil partnership lead to more LGBT+ rights in Bolivia?

Guido Montano, one of the first two gay men to ever get into a same-sex union in the country, told WPR Linda Farthing: “The biggest change is a mental one. It may seem a vague idea in day-to-day life […] but I just immediately sensed that we have more rights.”

David and Guido.

When l in January both of them contracted COVID-19, without a legal recognition of their status, they were forced to look at the worst-case scenario where all they had built together so far was going to get lost, bu now, as Guido says, “with David really ill, the fact that we can now leave our pensions to each other and that we would have had no problem visiting each other in the hospital suddenly made a huge difference.”

Being now seen as a Family, is the biggest impact this legalisation had on the couple. 

After 11 years of life together, the two men decided to apply for a civil union in 2018, but they got refused as according Bolivia’s law, two people of the same sex do not qualify for a civil partnership. 

Guido is a lawyer and he then started a legal-battle, taking their case to the court with the assistance of a local group of human-rights lawyers called Derechos en Accion. The battle was tortuous and exhausting.

But last July everything changed, ss reported on WPR: “Their efforts finally paid off last July, when a high court in the capital, La Paz, overturned the registry’s decision. It took another five months before their civil union was finally processed—a historic event that was heralded by human rights groups and the U.N. as an important victory. “This is not just important for same-sex couples. This is an important day for our society,” Celia Taborga, the U.N. Population Fund’s representative in Bolivia, told reporters in La Paz at the time.

“When I heard the news, I began to cry,” said Aruquipa, who is a longtime gay rights activist and a founder of the Galan Family, a group of activist cross-dressers in Bolivia. He told me that while he and Montano received many messages of support, they also were subjected to “ugly and threatening posts on social media.” Still, “we’re very glad we stuck with it,” he added. “We hope this paves the way for greater LGBT rights in Bolivia and in the rest of Latin America.”

Bolivia’s LGBT+ rights 

Let’s have a quick look at the controversial history and actual situation of LGBT+ rights in the country.

  • Bolivia is one of the few countries in the world having a Constitution that forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender. 
  • Bolivia recognises since 2009 the right of every citizen – including children – to express and chose their gender identity.
  • In 2014 Manuel Canelas, became the first openly gay public official elected in Bolivia.
  • Since 2016 every citizen in Bolivia is given the chance to determine their gender on the identity cards.
  • Notwithstanding the “friendly” constitution, in 2015 national poll, 74% of Bolivian citizens said they were opposing to same-sex marriage and 78% of them absolutely rejected the idea of allowing same-sex couple to adopt.
  • In 2019 Pesident Evo Morales was forced to resign, and got replaced by Jeanine Anez, a right-wing evangelical whose first act as interim president was to proclaim that “the Bible returns to the palace.”
  • Always in 2019 despite the heightened climate of fear for LGBT Bolivians, the country witnessed another milestone last summer, when Bolivia’s first transgender TV news anchor, 26-year-old Leonie Dorado, took to the airwaves.

We strongly invite you to read the full story, written by Linda Farthing on WPR, here.

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