Mexico is a mix of cultures and rights vary by state

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In Oaxaca state, the Zapotec culture has a tradition of Muxes, men who dress like women, or dress like men but have male lovers and hold traditionally female jobs. Photo by Nicola Okin Frioli from his beautiful photo exhibit "We are Princesses in a Land of Machos"

LGBT rights in Mexico and also tolerance and acceptance of gay, lesbian and transgender people varies quite a bit by the region or state. As a federal system, the important rights such as marriage and adoption are decided on a state by state basis and similarly to the United States, battles in court and state legislatures are taking place in different places of the country.

As well the indigenous cultures that are dominant in various areas of Mexico tend to have different attitudes to LGBT people and so that has influenced regional differences. As such outside the capital, the most progressive regions tend to be Oaxaca and the Yucatan

The first gay couples get married in Mexico City in 2010

Mexico City's Progressive Stance on LGBT Rights

LGBT travelers will appreciate Mexico City's notably progressive attitude when it comes to sexual diversity. Informally, few cities worldwide could better represent the "live-and-let-live" attitude that is a (rarely remarked upon) feature of Mexican culture in general, further enhanced by the open-mindedness that city life supports. The generally warm, chatty and convivial nature of the Mexicans practically compels them to enjoy people as people, nothing more or less. There's a feeling that we're all in this together and a surprising lack of recourse to labels. As you make your way through the city you'll see open expressions of sexual diversity, gestures of affection and hand-holding that attract virtually no attention from passers-by, even outside the Zona Rosa.

In recent years this street-level attitude has played out in a series of city-wide legal reforms that are a source of pride to many citizens, gay, straight or otherwise. Most notably, in 2010 the DF (which acts like a state in Mexican politics) became the first jurisdiction in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Other progressive reforms have included allowing transgender people to legally change their sex on birth certificates and other legal records. Discrimination based on sexual identity is illegal in any guise, and as of 2010, same-sex couples can legally adopt children.

The government also maintains support centers for the LGBT community such as its Centro Comunitario de Atención a la Diversidad Sexual, which focuses on guaranteeing community access to healthcare, HIV testing, human rights, safety and justice, serves as a referral to other public services and support, and even helps process same-sex marriage licenses.

Naturally there is more work to do and activists push for even greater advances; but in the meantime Mexico City's example might well serve other cities worldwide that seek to enhance equality for their lgbt citizens

     Same-sex marriages performed. *Stripes: Proportion of municipal coverage
     Civil unions performed; marriage by amparo only.
     Marriage not performed (except by amparo) despite Supreme Court order.
     Marriage accessible by amparo or by traveling out of state.
Map by Lokal_Profil, CC BY-SA 2.5

Other parts of Mexico

Same sex sexual activity is legal in all of Mexico and has been since 1872. There is also a nationwide law banning discrimination in employment and housing which has been in effect since 2003.

Same sex marriage was been ruled a right for Mexicans by the Mexican supreme court in 2015 but due to the Mexican legal system this right has not yet been implemented in all parts of Mexico and couples may have to apply to the courts to override local rules. Wikipedia has a article listing the current state of same-sex unions in Mexico. The number of states which have implemented fully legalized same-sex marriage on demand (without a court petition) continues to grow (see map). Battles in other states are ongoing and in many cases several couples have been married due to court decisions but the precedent has not yet been fully established so that it would be freely available to all. And the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that all 31 states must recognize same sex marriages performed in the states where they are legal.

Nationally, the ex-president Enrique Peña Nieto stated in 2016 that he supports full national legalization and would introduce legislation but this ended up being defeated. On 18 December 2019, the ruling party, MORENA, introduced a constitutional amendment that would legalize same-sex marriage at the federal level, upgrade civil unions to marriage, and require all states to adjust their laws correspondingly within three months of passage. But again this has been stalled in congress.

Other rights, such as adoption rights and the rights of transgender people vary by state.

Credits and further reading

The Mexico City section above was taken from Mexico City excellent LGBT Tourism Guide which is available for download here.

Additional comments from our visitors about LGBT Rights in Mexico

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Agustin Calderon

Hola buenas tarde mi nombre es Agustin. Todos tenemos una historia y somos muy diferentes que nos une una cosa y eso es nuestra diferencia en gustos sexuales y nuestra vidas que se diferencian a la norma tradicionales. Yo fui nacido en Mexico pero fui criado en Estados Unidos, hace poco regrese a Mexico (7 años). Siempre hacido difícil para mi encajar en una nueva cultura y ser abiertamente gay en un país al cual aun sigo buscando mi lugar. Aun que soy abiertamente gay con quien me lo pregunte hay momentos que escondo mis gustos de genero. Quisiera empezar a ser mas abierto sobre mi sexualidad en mi comunidad (CD. Morelia) pero antes de tomar este paso quisiera educarme mas sobre mis derechos como hombre homosexual para poder protegerme de injusticias. Me podrán ayudar guiándome hacia el lugar indicado para leer y aprender de mis derechos en Michoacan y Mexico? He leído articulo y visto noticias sobre la comunidad gay en Mexico pero me interesa mas artículos legales a los que pueda referirme.

December 25, 2019

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