Information on the situation of homosexuals and the recourses available to them to uphold their rights [ECU29070.FE]

Article 516 of the Ecuadoran criminal code, specifically clause 1, likens homosexuality to a crime and prescribes penalties of four to eight years in prison for homosexual acts practised by consenting adults over 21 years of age (ICCHRLA, Apr. 1996, 18; IPS 26 Nov. 1997). Other parts of section 516 place homosexuality in the same class as incest and pedophilia (ibid.).

According to the president of the Ecumenical Human Rights Commission of Ecuador (CEDHU), there are abuses but victims are too afraid to complain (ICCHRLA Apr. 1996, 7). According to the president, homosexuals are depicted as abnormal and dangerous individuals who corrupt youth (ibid.).

However, following a two-month campaign interspersed with demonstrations against Article 516 led by the gay community, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador, in what has been called a historical decision, ruled that sentences of imprisonment imposed on consenting persons engaging in homosexual activities were unconstitutional, and it decriminalized homosexuality (AFP 25 Nov. 1997; IPS 26 Nov. 1997). This decision of 25 November 1997 also followed on the heels of the action brought by the gay community on 24 September 1997 against the government to force it to decriminalize homosexuality (AFP 25 Nov. 1997).

According to Orlando Montoya, one of the leaders of the organization Triangulo Andino, the largest gay and lesbian organization in Ecuador, the most important aspect of this resolution lies in the fact that recognition of the rights enjoyed by Ecuadorian citizens must be extended to gays, lesbians and transsexuals (IPS 26 Nov. 1997). The decision was hailed with public celebrations by the homosexual community throughout Ecuador (ibid.).

The attached articles provide additional information on the Constitutional Court's decision and on the situation of homosexuals in Ecuador.

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 to refugee status or asylum.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 25 November 1997. "Ecuador Legalizes Homosexual Acts Between Consenting Adults." (NEXIS)

Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA) [Toronto]. April 1996. Violence Unveiled: Repression Against Lesbians and Gay Men in Latin America. Toronto: ICCHRLA.

Inter Press Service (IPS). 26 November 1997. Mario Gonzalez. "Ecuador-Rights: Homosexuals Celebrate Decriminalization." (NEXIS)


ILGA Bulletin [Brussels]. January-February-March 1998. No. 1. "Homosexuality Legal in Ecuador!!," pp. 19-20.

Inter Press Service (IPS). 29 July 1997. Mario Gonzalez. "Ecuador: Gays Seek Greater Role in Constitutional Reform." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997. 1997.

IGLHRC Action Alert [San Francisco]. 1997-98.

ILGA Bulletin [Brussels]. 1997-98.

Latin America Regional Report: Andean Report [London]: 1997-98.

Electronic sources: IRB databases, Global News Bank, Lexis/Nexis, REFWORLD, World News Connection (WNC).

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