Peru's congress on Tuesday rejected a highly anticipated proposal to legalize same-sex unions and give gay couples many of the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
The bill was shot down by the legislative justice commission without ever being put to vote on the floor of congress.
“Today you can see who the backward congressmen are —those who want to deny rights to others…those who consider that there are second class Peruvians,” said Carlos Bruce, an openly gay congressman who drafted the bill. “This is an issue that we will continue to work on; history will advance.”
The bill was widely discussed in Peruvian media prior to Tuesday’s vote, with comments from Peru's Catholic leadership suggesting that socially conservative attitudes aren’t limited to the halls of congress.
An influential Bishop even bullied Carlos Bruce on national media.
“Congressman Bruce is making a big show out of all of this, looking like, forgive the language, amaricon,” Roman Catholic Bishop Luis Bambaren, 87, said Tuesday, using a derogatory word for gays often translated as faggot. “He says he’s gay, but that’s not a word in Peru; the Peruvian word is maricon.”
Monseñor Bambaren belts out his views on gay civil unions (video via Univision Peru bureau)
Bruce's civil union bill aimed to grant several key rights to same-sex spouses, such as the right to a family health insurance plan. It also would’ve made it easier for members of the LGBT community to transfer property to their designated spouse.
Opponents, however, perceived the bill as a veiled attempt to sneak gay marriage into Peruvian law, paving the way for adoption by gay couples. Peru's Constitution defines marriage as a union between a woman and a man.
Here’s a map of the countries in Latin America that have legalized gay marriage and same-sex civil unions.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.