By Isabel Guerra
LIMA, PERU -- The issue of same-sex marriage has recently become a part of the political platforms of presidential candidates in Peru. Foreseeing upcoming Presidential elections, to be held on April 10th, candidates are using the situation to define their positions on the issue.
While former President Alejandro Toledo confirms that his political program (his party is Peru Posible) is examining civil unions between homosexuals and "working towards an inclusive society," the candidate of Fuerza Social, Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, has declared himself in favor of reforming Peru's laws in order to have marriages between couples of the same sex.
Young man stands by a sign referring to a rally against homophobia held on Valentine's Day in Lima. However, the police prevented people from gathering for the rally.
Other candidates are considering less radical legal measures. Luis Castañeda (of Solidaridad Nacional) proposed granting inheritance benefits, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (of Alianza por el Gran Cambio suggests establishing civil unions, as does Keiko Fujimori (of Fuerza 2011).
Political analysts in the media share the opinion that this issue doesn't seem to be intended to attract a large number of voters, but to strenghten the candidates' images, to make them appear as defending the rights of minorities.
Meanwhile, opinions in the local blogosphere (and on Twitter) have appeared immediately.
Basically, public opinion is currently divided among those who believe that same-sex marriage is required to grant LGBT citizens the same civil rights that heterosexual couples have, and those who think that "gay marriage" is not an urgent issue, since the whole country has many unattended basic needs and social rights that should be prioritized.
"The debate between the candidates running for the presidential chair is circling in turn to three subjects: drug consumption, abortion, and same-sex civil unions," claims DaV, a local blogger, while another one, Peruanista, points out the fact that "it is also important that the equality of civil rights be discussed in a public and respectful manner for those Peruvians that are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender."
Agustín Haya, a Peruvian Constitutionalist, has noted that The Constitution of Peru, since 1979, does not specify any couple's gender, so homosexual or lesbian civil unions are protected and current laws may be modified to allow same-sex marriage.
Peru is still a very conservative country, but there are many NGOs working actively on gay rights and have been making visible the demands of the LGBT community for years.
However, keeping in mind that according to official statistics almost 28% of the total Peruvian population is between 15 and 29 years old, this issue may as well be a political move to address the young and first-time voters, who certainly are much more (sexually) open-minded than their parents' generation.
Statistically speaking, the median age of the Peruvian citizen is 25.2 years old.
As the election day approaches, all Peruvians will be waiting to see if finally a negotiation is possible between supporters and opponents in the legal rights of LGBT citizens.
A longer version of this article is available in Spanish.
Learn more about Isabel
With a Master's degree in Communications from the University of Lima's School of Communication Sciences, Isabel specializes in covering stories regarding art and culture.