Gay rights in Argentina

LGBT rights in Argentina Argentina
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1887
Gender identity/expression Right to change legal gender since 2012
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections in Buenos Aires and Rosario (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage since 2010
Adoption Full adoption rights since 2010

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Argentina are among the most advanced in Latin America, following the legalisation of same-sex marriage, that also includes full adoption rights, on 15 July 2010. Upon legalising gay marriage, Argentina became the first country in Latin America, the second in the Americas, and the tenth in the world to do so.[1][2][3][4][5]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

Same-sex sexual activity in Argentina has been legal since 1887.[6]:88 The age of consent is 15 for both homosexuals and heterosexuals.[7][8]


While same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private had been legal since 1887, there were no civil rights laws designed to protect LGBT people, and public opinion tended to look down upon LGBT people.[9]

During the nineteenth century writings on homosexuality treated it as a medical pathology, an accusation to be levied against political opponents or something brought into the nation by foreigners.[9] The only public image of homosexuality was urban prostitution and public locations used for cruising. In 1914 a homosexual-themed play named Los Invertidos was forced to shut down, although medical journals were permitted to discuss homosexuality.

Police harassment of homosexuals is reported to have increased during the first military coup of 1930 which initiated the Infamous Decade. In 1936, a mass arrest of homosexual men prompted legislation to legalize and regulate heterosexual prostitution based on the argument that men were turning to homosexuality out of desperation.[10] Reports on the policies during the Peronist terms (1946 to 1955) are vague and contradictory. In 1946, Eva Perón extended her personal protection to Miguel de Molina, and some reports claim Juan Perón ordered the police and the military not to engage in gay bashings.

The first LGBT rights organizations to be established were Nuestro Mundo (1969) and Safo (1972). Together they represented the homosexual liberation front that sought an alliance with the political left in order to advance civil rights. The 1976 coup eradicated this movement and many of its members were among the thousands of disappeared people.[9] The return to democracy in 1983 allowed for the creation of a LGBT rights movement.

While not given official recognition until 1992, the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina publicly campaigned for the human rights of LGBT people. Since 1987 the rights of gay and bisexual women have been defended by Cuadernos de Existencia Lesbiana. Significant legal and social progress began to be seen in the 1990's.

During this initial era of democratization, the first gay bar opened and the LGBT community began to become more open, with pride festivals, publications and political activism. Legally, two cities, Buenos Aires and Rosario formally enacted legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In 2007, the International Gay World Cup was held in Buenos Aires, with the Argentina team winning.[11]

In recent years, there has been an effort to encourage LGBT tourists to visit Buenos Aires, with the hope that the increased tourism will help the economy.[12]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Following the institution of civil unions in Río Negro and the city of Buenos Aires, in 2005 a judge ordered prison authorities in the Córdoba Province to allow conjugal visits between gay prisoners and their partners. The law approving the civil union of homosexual couples in both the city of Buenos Aires and the Río Negro Province was endorsed in 2003, and in the town of Villa Carlos Paz in 2007.[13] Since 2009, the city of Río Cuarto allowed civil union too. These unions provided many of the same rights and privileges as that of married couples; however, adoption of children were not included among them.

An early-2007 poll showed that 75% of those surveyed in the city of Buenos Aires believed gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry,[14] whereas 66% of the citizens supported gay marriage in 2009, if consideration was given to the whole country.[15]

Same-sex marriage was legalised in Argentina on 15 July 2010, after a positive vote in both the Chamber of Deputies (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House).[16][17] Same-sex couples are thus eligible for the same benefits and protections as opposite-sex couples (including adoption).[18] Some cities also have civil union laws that continue to be in place as an alternative to marriage that offers more limited rights. After the law was passed, Argentina became the second country in the Americas in legalising same-sex marriage,[19] as well as the first in Latin American and the tenth worldwide.[18][20]

2009 court ruling

In November 2009, a judge ruled that the prohibition of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and permitted a male couple, Alex Freyre and Jose Maria Di Bello, to be married. The decision was hailed as a "legal first" by Reuters who said it was "setting a precedent that could pave the way for the Catholic country to become the first in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage".[21] Freyre and Di Bello confirmed they were "the first gay couple in Latin America to get the right to marry".[21] The Chief of Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, confirmed the city's government would not be appealing the decision.[22][23] Macri said that the decision was "an important step, because we must learn how to live in freedom without hurting the rights of others",[24] later adding that "we must cohabit, and accept this reality. The world is heading toward that direction".[25] The wedding was finally suspended after another judge revoked the original decision in late November 2009 (2009-11).[26] Finally, on 28 December 2009, the couple got married in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego Province, becoming the first homosexual married couple in Latin America.[27][28] They were supported by the governor of Tierra del Fuego, Fabiana Ríos, who signed a decree approving the wedding based in the judicial rule of November 2009 (2009-11). Because that decision applied only in the case presented by Freyre and Di Bello, other homosexual couples should appeal to the Judicial Power, wait for the resolution of unconstitutionality and then go to Tierra del Fuego to marry.[29]

Anti-discrimination laws

As of 2013, no national law exists to expressly deal with discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, although the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the city of Rosario (the third most populous of the country, ruled by the Socialist Party) do include sexual orientation in their civil rights laws. On 13 August 2010, the Chamber of Deputies approved amendment to the anti-discrimination law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but was not voted by the Senate.[30][31] New proposal was introduced in May 2013.[32][33]

Gay and lesbian military service

On 27 February 2009, Argentina's parliament passed a broad military reform act. One of the provisions of the law allows gay and lesbians to serve in the military and bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation within the armed forces. The law became effective six months after passage.[34][35]

Transgender rights and discrimination

In certain towns or cities, cross dress may be illegal. Discrimination and harassment on the account of gender identity still remains a problem, although the trangender community has become more visible and politically organized.

In 1997, Asociación de Lucha por la Identidad Travesti-Transsexual was created to defend the rights of transgender people. One of its first victories came in 2006 when the Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling that had stated that transgender people did not have a legal right to organize and campaign for their rights.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that a 17-year-old had the legal right to go through the sex change process and have her legal documents changed to reflect the operation.[36]

In 2009, Marcela Romero won the legal right to have her identity changed, and was given an honorary title by the government. She was awarded by the Honorable Congress woman of the year. Romero remains one of the leading advocates for the human rights of transgender people in Argentina.[37]

In 2012, senators unanimously approved the "Gender Identity Law". This law grants adults sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy as a part of their public or private health care plans. The law also allows for changes to gender, image, or birth name on civil registries without the approval of a doctor or a judge.[38] In 2013 a six-year-old girl named Luana, who was born a boy, became the first transgender child in Argentina to have her new name officially changed on her identity documents. She is believed to be the youngest to benefit from the country’s Gender Identity Law.[39]


Comprehensive sexual education remains a taboo topic in Argentina politics.[40] As such it is difficult to implement a preventative campaign that will target the youth due to religious objections from clergy, parents and local officials. Likewise, while health care is the right of each citizen, it is often elusive for people living in rural communities. Much of the funding for public education and treatment has come from private charities, NGO's and international organizations.

Summary table

Right Legal status
Same-sex sexual activity legal
Equal age of consent
Anti-discrimination laws in employment
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)
Same-sex marriage
Adoption by single gays
Adoption by same-sex couples
Gays allowed to serve in the military
Right to change legal gender
Access to IVF for lesbians
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples
MSMs allowed to donate blood

See also


External links

  • Argentina: The situation of homosexual men and women, including how they are treated, the legislation on homosexuality, state protection available, and the existence of support services (2006-2009)
  • Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA)
  • La Fulana, Centro Comunitario para Mujeres Lesbianas y Bisexuales
  • Homosexuality In Argentina
  • Global Post

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