Responses to Information Requests

Responses to Information Requests (RIR) respond to focused Requests for Information that are submitted to the Research Directorate in the course of the refugee protection determination process. The database contains a seven-year archive of English and French RIRs. Earlier RIRs may be found on the UNHCR's Refworld website. Please note that some RIRs have attachments which are not electronically accessible. To obtain a PDF copy of an RIR attachment, please email the Knowledge and Information Management Unit.


1 September 2011


Mexico: Information on the supreme court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, including societal attitudes
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

In Mexico, marriage proceedings are under the jurisdiction of “local State law” (Canada 20 Oct. 2010). On 29 December 2009, in the Decree to Amend Various Provisions of the Federal District Civil Code and the Federal District Code of Civil Procedure (Decreto por el que Se Reforman Diversas Disposiciones del Código Civil para el Distrito Federal y del Código de Procedimientos Civiles para el Distrito Federal), the Federal District Legislative Assembly passed amendments to articles 146, 237, 291 Bis, 294, 391 and 724 of the Federal District Civil Code (Federal District 2009). The amendment to Article 146 of the Federal District Civil Code states:

[Translated by the Translation Bureau] Marriage is the free union of two people in the community of life, in which both owe each other respect, equality and mutual support. Marriage must be celebrated before the Judge of the Civil Registry and follow the formalities set out in this code. (ibid.)

In its plenary chronicles, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación) states that Article 146 [translation] "redefines the concept of marriage to establish that it is the union of two persons, which is understood to mean not only heterosexual couples but also same-sex couples" (Mexico n.d.a, 1). According to the Fourth General Investigator of the Federal District Human Rights Commission (Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal <>, CDHDF), Article 146 was previously defined as a union between a man and a woman (Federal District 28 July 2011).

Article 391 of the Federal District Civil Code, as amended in 2009, states the following:

[Translated by the Translation Bureau] Spouses and concubines can adopt if both agree to consider the adopted as their child, even if only one of the two meet the age requirement referred to in the preceding section, provided that the age difference between either of the adopters and the adopted is at least 17 years. The requirements set out in the preceding section’s subsections must also be met. (ibid. 2009)

The Supreme Court stated in its plenary chronicles that [translation] "as a result of this redefinition of marriage, [Article 391] implicitly establishes the possibility that same-sex marriage partners may have access to the adoption of children" (Mexico n.d.a, 1).

On 27 January 2010, the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) filed a suit to the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of articles 146 and 391 of the Civil Code of the Federal District (Mexico n.d.b). The Supreme Court ruled on 5 August 2010 that the amendments made to Article 146 do not violate the Constitution (ibid.), and recognized the validity of Article 146, [Translated by the Translation Bureau] "which defines marriage as the free union of two people in a life together" (Mexico n.d.a, 3). The Supreme Court ruling also stipulates that

[Translated by the Translation Bureau] [v]alid legal situations created in a Mexican state or in the Federal District under its legislation must be recognized elsewhere in the Republic. This does not mean that other Mexican states must perform and register same-sex marriages; however, they must recognize same-sex marriages performed in the Federal District and accept them as valid. In this case, validity refers to the existence of the formal act of marriage. (Mexico n.d.b)

Regarding adoption, the Supreme Court ruled on 16 August 2010 that under the legislation of the Federal District, all married persons [Translated by the Translation Bureau] "must have the same status as any other couple, regardless of sexual preference or orientation" (ibid.).

The same-sex marriage reforms became effective on 4 March 2010 (EFE News Service 5 Jan. 2011; BBC 4 Mar. 2010). According to The Canadian Press, one year after same-sex marriages were permitted, 700 gay and lesbian couples had been married in Mexico City (4 Mar. 2011).

Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in other Mexican States

The state of Coahuila gave "legal recognition" to same-sex couples (Latin America News Dispatch 4 Aug. 2011), allowing gay civil unions in 2007 (Reuters 11 Jan. 2007). Similarly, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, a researcher and professor at the Interdisciplinary Program of Women's Studies at the College of Mexico (El Colegio de México) stated that only the Federal District and the State of Coahuila [translation] "recognize" marriages between people of the same sex in Mexico (Professor 31 July 2011). In a follow-up interview with the Research Directorate, the professor explained that recognition refers not only to the right to same-sex marriages but also to the rights that come with marriage (ibid. 19 Aug. 2011). The professor stated that weddings between same-sex couples in the Federal District or Coahuila are not recognized in any other state, and there are no sanctions for the states that do not recognize same-sex marriage (Professor 31 July 2011). Corroboration could not be found within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources indicate that same-sex marriages are not officially recognized in the state of Yucatán (NotieSe 16 July 2009; Yucatá 25 Nov. 2010; Diario de Yucatán 23 Nov. 2010). NotieSe reports that with 24 votes in favour and one against, the Yucatán Congress approved reforms to the state Constitution and the state's Civil Code to [translation] "preserve the institution of the traditional family" (NotieSe 16 July 2009). According to media sources, a judge said that same-sex marriages celebrated in other states are not valid in Yucatán (ibid.; Yucatá 25 Nov. 2010).

A shadow report submitted to the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee by Global Rights, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard Law School and Colectivo Binni Laanu A.C. indicates the following:

Same-sex families, even when legally sanctioned by state authority in a specific location, will be subjected to scrutiny and denied rights and benefits if they decided to travel to another state from the one that sanctions and recognizes their marriage. This constitutes an intrusive and arbitrary interference with family life of legally married same sex couples, contravening the principle enshrined by article 17 and the prohibition of discrimination of articles 2 and 26 [of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR]. (Global Rights et al. Mar. 2010, 13-14)

According to this report, "in some Mexican states," same-sex couples are not legally allowed to adopt children (ibid., 14). El Sol de Hidalgoindicates that this is the case in Hidalgo state, where a judge of the Superior Court (Tribunal Superior de Justicia) said that gay couples cannot adopt children in Hidalgo (11 Jan. 2010). Corroboration could not be found within the time constraints of this Response. According to the shadow report, the best interests of children legally adopted by same-sex couples or through step parent adoption in Mexico City could be affected if such families were to move to an area which does not recognize same-sex families, affecting the rights of children living in those families. (Global Rights et al. Mar. 2010, 14)

Access to Social Security Benefits

According to sources, some same-sex married couples have not been able to access social security benefits (Federal District 28 July 2011; PRD 21 July 2011; Professor 31 July 2011). The professor explained that this occurs throughout all of Mexico (ibid. 19 Aug. 2011). The College of Mexico professor also stated that the only same-sex spouses that have been granted access to social security benefits are those that have taken their cases to court and won, but this is not yet jurisprudence (ibid.). NotieSe, a news agency specializing in health, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, indicates that three same-sex married couples that have been denied access to social security benefits have taken recourse of "amparo" (NotieSe 12 July 2011), the legal means for challenging laws or the official acts of public authorities that violate the constitutional rights of individuals (Vargas 27 Feb. 2008). According to the Fourth General Investigator, couples that have used the "amparo" remedy have succeeded in registering their partners in their social security benefits plan (Federal District 15 Aug. 2011).

The Mexican Institute of Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) is mandated to provide coverage for private-sector workers, while the Institute of Social Services and Security of State Workers (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado, ISSSTE) provides pensions and health care to public employees (Business News Americas 18 Feb. 2009). The IMSS and the ISSSTE provide social security coverage nationwide (Professor 19 Aug. 2011; Federal District 15 Aug. 2011). The professor said that three contributors pay into the benefits: the government, the employee, and, for the IMSS, the private enterprise or, for the ISSSTE, the public institution (Professor 19 Aug. 2011).

However, according to the Fourth General Investigator of the CDHDF, the IMSS and ISSSTE regulations recognize a couple as a man and a woman (Federal District 15 Aug. 2011). A NotieSe article indicates that several same-sex married couples complained to the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación, CONAPRED) that they were not able to register their spouses for social security benefits (12 July 2011). After investigating six such claims in 2010, CONAPRED determined that both institutions were discriminating against same-sex married couples (NotieSe 12 July 2011).

In 2011, CONAPRED issued a resolution addressed to the IMSS and the ISSSTE urging the institutions to ensure full and equal treatment to all those who are insured, including their spouses or partners, regardless of sexual orientation (Mexico 11 July 2011). In announcing Resolution 2/2011, CONAPRED states that on 10 June 2011, constitutional reforms established that human rights standards are to be interpreted in accordance with the constitution and international treaties, always favouring the widest protection to be granted to people (ibid.). CONAPRED also states that Article 1 of the Constitution was modified to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual preference (ibid.). When investigating the complaints made by the same-sex couples that had been denied the right to spousal benefits, CONAPRED determined that the IMSS and the ISSSTE [translation] "discriminate" against same-sex married couples by interpreting legislation that applies to both institutions in a "restrictive manner" (ibid.). CONAPRED pointed out that with the constitutional reforms, the IMSS and the ISSSTE now have the legal tools to interpret their social security laws more widely (ibid.). Nevertheless, in a statement dated 21 July 2011, CONAPRED said that the IMSS and ISSSTE had not yet responded to Resolution 2/2011 (ibid. 21 July 2011). According to CONAPRED, [translation] "the lack of a response is already a failure to comply with the law" (ibid.).

A note published on 17 August 2010 by the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) of Mexico indicated that the Democratic Revolution Party (Partido de la Revolución Democratica, PRD) was leading a legal initiative to guarantee social security to same-sex couples. Information on the status of the initiative could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage by Political and Church Leaders

The New York Times (NYT) indicates that the state governments belonging to the "right-leaning" National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN), the country's ruling party, reacted with anger to Mexico City’s same-sex marriage law, accusing the "left-leaning" government of Mexico City of "establishing civil-registry regulations for the rest of the country" (NYT 10 Aug. 2010). President Felipe Calderón also underlined that in the Mexican constitution marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman (El Universal 7 Feb. 2010; NYT 6 Feb. 2010). The Mexico City leader of the PAN, Mariana Gómez del Campo, also said that gay marriage “will weaken the legal definition of marriage" (ibid.).

According to media sources, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico have made statements criticizing same-sex marriage and adoption reforms (EFE News Service 18 Aug. 2010; NYT 10 Aug. 2010; ibid. 6 Feb. 2010). The New York Times states that "Roman Catholic groups asked the conservative federal government to intervene" on the same-sex marriage reforms (ibid.). According to the Catholic News Service (CNS), the Archdiocese of Mexico City spokesperson, Hugo Valdemar Romero, made comments urging Catholics not to vote for political parties in favour of same-sex marriage (CNS 5 July 2011). However, the CNS also reports that Mexico’s electoral institute ruled that Hugo Valdemar "violated the country's electoral code, but absolved the Archdiocese of Mexico City" (ibid.). According to the EFE News Service, Cardinal Juan Sandoval accused the Mayor of the Federal District, Marcelo Ebrard, of "bribing Mexican Supreme Court justices to uphold Mexico City's ordinance allowing same-sex marriage" (EFE News Service 18 Aug. 2010). The EFE News Service reports that 11 Supreme Court magistrates denounced the Cardinal's statements, and Mayor Marcelo Ebrard sued Cardinal Juan Sandoval seeking economic sanctions (ibid.).

Societal Attitudes

According to sources, homophobia continues to be prevalent in Mexican society (ibid.; Al Jazeera 4 Mar. 2010). As the College of Mexico professor said, there is "cultural resistance" to same-sex marriage rights (Professor 19 Aug. 2011). The professor said that a challenge faced by many same-sex couples is confronting [translation] "the public criticism or ridicule that comes from showing their sexual orientation or declaring it through marriage" since "socially, it is still difficult for many people to accept this type of marriage as a right" (ibid. 31 July 2011).

In addition, the professor said that there are cases of [translation] "discrimination, threats and violence against people who show their non-heterosexual orientation" (ibid.). The professor explained that such behaviour is targeted towards same-sex couples not only because they are getting married, but also because [translation] "the public expression or manifestation of sexual orientation is contrary to heteronormativity" (ibid.). According to the professor, [translation] "from time to time, there is violence and even assassinations of homosexuals -- generally activists of this cause -- [but these] crimes ... usually go unpunished" (ibid.).

CONAPRED and the CDHDF have also indicated that impunity is evident among the perpetrators of homophobic crimes (Mexico n.d.c, 7; La Prensa 3 Jan. 2011). According to a report based on a review of more than 70 newspapers in 11 Mexican states, between 2001 and 2009, there have been approximately 60 killings a year motivated by homophobia (The Canadian Press 13 May 2010). The report, which was produced by a coalition of civil society groups, further states that "Mexico City had the most homophobia-motivated killings, with 144 between 1995 and 2009" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Al Jazeera. 4 March 2010. "Anger at Mexico's Gay Marriage Law." (Factiva)

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 4 March 2010. "Gay Marriage Law Comes into Effect in Mexico City." <> [Accessed 19 Aug. 2011]

Business News Americas. 18 February 2009. "IMSS, ISSSTE Sign Portability Agreement - Mexico." <,_ISSSTE_sign_portability_agreement> [Accessed 10 Aug. 2011]

Canada. 20 October 2010. Canadian Embassy in Mexico. "Marriage and Divorce in Mexico." <> [Accessed 19 July 2011]

The Canadian Press. 4 March 2011. "Mexico City Records 700 Homosexual Weddings in First Year of Law Allowing Same-Sex Marriage." (Factiva)

_____. 13 May 2010. "Killings Based on Homophobia Rise in Mexico Despite Government Tolerance Campaign, Report Says." (Factiva)

Catholic News Service (CNS). 5 July 2011. David Agren. "Mexican Tribunal Orders Sanctions on Archdiocese." (National Catholic Reporter) <> [Accessed 18 Aug. 2011]

Diario de Yucatán. 23 November 2010. "Las bodas gay, sin efecto local." <> [Accessed 18 Aug. 2011]

EFE News Service. 5 January 2011. "Over 1,200 Same-Sex Marriages Performed in Mexico City in 2010." (Factiva)

_____. 18 August 2010. "Mexican Sues Cardinal Over Accusations in Gay Marriage Flap." (Factiva)

Federal District. 15 August 2011. Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal (CDHDF). Correspondence from the Fourth General Investigator with the Research Directorate.

_____. 28 July 2011. Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal &lt;; (CDHDF). Telephone interview with the Fourth General Investigator.

_____. 2009. Decreto Por El Que Se Reforman Diversas Disposiciones del Código Civil para El Distrito Federal y del Código de Procedimientos Civiles para el Distrito Federal. (Asociación Nacional de Abogados Democráticos) Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada. <> [Accessed 25 July 2011]

Global Rights, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) of Harvard Law School and Colectivo Binni Laanu A.C. March 2010. The Violations of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons in Mexico: A Shadow Report. <> [Accessed 20 July 2011]

Latin America News Dispatch. 4 August 2011. Daniel Hertz. "Mexico's LGBT Community Faces Violence Despite Major Gains in Civil Rights." <> [Accessed 4 Aug. 2011]

Mexico. 21 July 2011. Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (CONAPRED). "Pronunciamiento de la Asamblea Consultiva del Conapred sobre Resolución por Disposición dirigida al IMSS e ISSSTE por discriminación a matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo." (No. 041/2011) <> [Accessed 17 Aug. 2011]

_____. 11 July 2011. Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (CONAPRED). "Conapred emite Resolución por Disposición al IMSS e ISSSTE por discriminación a matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo." (No. 039/2011) <> [Accessed 17 Aug. 2011]

_____. 17 August 2010. Cámara de Diputados. "Impulsa PRD iniciativa de ley para garantizar seguridad social a parejas del mismo sexo: Santana Alfaro." (No. 3135) < 006_2010/08_agosto/17_17/3135_impulsa_prd_iniciativa_de_ley_para_garantizar_ seguridad_social_a_parejas_del_mismo_sexo_santana_alfaro> [Accessed 5 Aug. 2010]

_____. N.d.a. Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación. "Sesiones del 1 de Julio, 3, 5, 9, 10, 12 y 16 de Agosto de 2010 : Reforma a los Artículos 146 y 391 del Código Civil para el Distrito Federal. Reformas que Facultan el Matrimonio Entre Personas del Mismo Sexo y su Derecho a la Adopción de Menores en el D.F." Crónicas del Pleno y de las Salas. No. 38. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada. <> [Accessed 19 July 2011]

_____. N.d.b. Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación. Acción de Inconstitucionalidad 2/2010, Matrimonio Entre Personas del Mismo Sexo. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada. < es&authkey=CJ7ypPEH> [Accessed 11 Aug. 2011]

_____. N.d.c. Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (CONAPRED). "Documento informativo de homofobia." <> [Accessed 27 July 2011]

The New York Times (NYT). 10 August 2010. David Agren. "Mexican States Ordered to Honor Gay Marriages." <> [Accessed 12 July 2011]

_____. 6 February 2010. Elisabeth Malkin. "Gay Marriage Puts Mexico City at Center of Debate." <> [Accessed 12 July 2011]

NotieSe. 12 July 2011. Gerardo Suárez López. "IMSS e ISSSTE discriminan a matrimonios del mismo sexo: Conapred." <> [Accessed 10 Aug. 2011]

_____. 16 July 2009. Leonardo Bastida Aguilar. "Aprueban leyes contra uniones de personas del mismo sexo y antiaborto en Yucatán." <> [Accessed 15 Aug. 2011]

Partido de la Revolución Democratica (PRD). 21 July 2011. Telephone interview with a representative of the Comisión Nacional de Diversidad Sexual (CNDS).

La Prensa [Mexico City]. 3 January 2011. "Distrito Federal, el más homofóbico del país." <> [Accessed 8 Aug. 2011]

Professor, Interdisciplinary Program of Women's Studies, El Colegio de México. 19 August 2011. Telephone interview with the Research Directorate.

_____. 31 July 2011. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Reuters. 11 January 2007. "Mexican State Near Texas Passes Gay Union Law." (The Washington Post) < 2007/01/11/AR2007011102502.html> [Accessed 15 Aug. 2011]

El Sol de Hidalgo. 11 January 2010. José Luis Rico. "Gays no podrán adoptar en Hidalgo." <> [Accessed 15 Aug. 2011]

El Universal [Mexico City]. 7 February 2010. Claudia Bolaños. "Marcha comunidad lésbico-gay a Los Pinos." <> [Accessed 15 Aug. 2011]

Vargas, Jorge A. 27 February 2008. Mexico and its Legal System. ( <> [Accessed 25 Aug. 2011]

Yucatá 25 November 2010. "Matrimonio gay de Progreso no tiene validez en Yucatán." <> [Accessed 15 Aug. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives of Agencia de Noticias Sobre Diversidad Sexual, Agenda LGBT, Las Amantes de la Luna, Asociación Colectiva por los Derechos de los Minorías Sexuales, Centro Comunitario de Atención a la Diversidad Sexual, Centro Regiomontano en Sexologia, El Closet de Sor Juana, Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación, Guadalajara Gay Radio, Letra S, a professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, a professor and member of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, and Tijuana Mexico Pride were unsuccessful within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including:; European Country of Origin Information Network; Fundación Arcoiris; Human Rights Watch; International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association; United Nations - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Refworld; United States Department of State.

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