Gay rights and the Latin church: ’till death do they part

There’s not much to add to Javier Corrales’ and Cameron Combs’ exhaustive and herculean review of 2012 gay rights developments in the hemisphere other than to say it has been an important year for Latin American sexual minorities and a bad year for the Catholic church’s influence over these topics around the world.

Many Americans who are fighting for the same causes the government has so handily advanced in places like Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico marvel at the progress that same-sex individuals and couples have achieved in some of the world’s most religious countries.

Instead of stemming the global gay rights moment, many Latin governments have tacked far more progressive on the rights they afford gays and transgender individuals than many would expect, emulating the legislative action taken in places like Spain and Portugal.

Gay rights advocates aren’t without their detractors, however, namely the Catholic church and the myriad of evangelical movements that have made inroads into the religious fabric of the region. But unlike in the U.S., where the government has no official religion or historical religious affiliation, many Latin American governments and bureaucratic elites have defined their identities through the century as anti-clerical.

Progress, in many places, has meant defeating the church, with revolutionary Mexico and dictatorial Argentina and Chile as three clear examples (not to mention fascist Spain and Portugal). While the situation is far more complex than just anti-religious fervor, 2012 was a year that crystallized many of these trends across the region.

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