Our field study here in Buenos Aires have now proceeded for a couple of weeks. Every time we have an interview with a Ngo (non-governmental organization) we try to seek for correlations. When the topic concerns the progress of the civil society in Argentina, the respondents usually emphasizes the increased influence during the financial crisis 2001 or the implementation of making gay marriage legal in relation to recent time.
The latter issue is actually quiet interesting. Argentina was the first country to legalize gay marriage in Latin America. Thus this was three years ago and at present time only Brazil (before it was only legal in some states due to the federal structure) has followed Argentina. According to me, Latin American legislation (in a general perspective) are behind on this specific issue. However the cultural context has to be added to the equation. In general there is a macho culture existing in Latin America, which basically tells the man how to act. I am not certain but maybe this culture is something that have stagnated or nonetheless affected the context behind the right to get married no matter of your sex. Maybe it is not the political culture of Latin America that needs to change, instead there might be a question of a distorted attitude amongst the people in the region. Again, I am not arguing that the entire population in Latin America are against gay marriage but maybe the pressure must come from below, from a bottom-up model.
Natalia Gerardi at the organization ’ELA’ (which works for women’s rights) tells me that: If the Ngo’s would not have put pressure on the policy-makers, gay marriage would still be illegal in Argentina. Whilst there are others who proclaims that the legislation of gay marriage was a political act to score some public points. Whether it in fact was a victory of the civil society or a political action with a hidden agenda, I will leave unanswered.
The discussion usually transforms into the controversial dilemma of abortion. However that is another issue which is perhaps even more rooted in religion than gay marriage. Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires called the proposal of legalizing gay marriage (before it was implemented) “a destructive pretension against the plan of God.” For obvious historically reasons Argentina are embraced in the catholic belief of the church. Thus there are many aspects to have in mind when debating gay marriage or other ‘controversial’ questions such as abortion.
My hope is that the Latin American countries will embrace more liberal values and follow Argentina’s prominent example as we now live in the 20th century and individuals must have the right to choose to whom they will marry.