Uruguay’s Liberal Policies and Same Sex Marriage

The issue of same-sex marriage legalization is a current and hot political topic debated amongst politicians, activists, and the mainstream society as a whole. This class and readings have opened up an alternative perspective to approach this topic from the lens of postcolonial legacies, because lasting implications of the Church’s power remain as a strong conservative, oppositional force to the legalization of same sex marriage. This can connect to Spanish legacies of control, through both liberal influence from Spain and Spanish influence over Latin American political policies, and the church’s lasting conservative influence in the political sphere of South America. These concepts of lasting control show not only colonial legacies of domination, but also the continued interference of the global north over the cultural and political practices of the global south. When looking at the debate of same-sex marriage, an interesting aspect is South America’s lead in determining equal rights for queer/LGBT-identified people. Although the global north seems to have a dominant sphere of influence, the United States is not leading this cultural shift to legalize same sex marriage in South America, and South America has two countries with same sex marriage legalized, compared to only Canada in North America. My thoughts to explore on this topic are the connection to liberal policies in South America to the clash with the conservative church’s antigay policies. A topic to explore more closely is also the shifting pattern of LGBT rights to be more pronounced through South America. Same sex marriage seems to be at the forefront of people’s minds when thinking about the rights of queer people, but it is only a small factor. Uruguay also has had other liberal policies of same sex adoption occur recently, and also a raise in the age of consent for sexual relations. Instead of focusing on same sex marriage as the only argument, I ask what is it about Uruguay that makes the country more liberal than not only its neighbors, but the United States as well. These liberal policies are more congruous with European values, so another question to explore is how much influence comes from Spain and other European states, and how much is internal dialogue and shifting values of the people. Finally I call to question what is the cultural ideologies about marriage in Uruguay that allowed them to pass marriage equality legislation, but still holds the United States in a false heteronormative standstill.

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