AMAmericas update

February 2019

(Participants in the thematic hearing of the IACHR. Photo: Hunter Carter)

AMAmericas is the informal alliance of pro bono lawyers working since 2012 to secure the right for marriage equality in Latin American countries. Founded by a group of lawyers led by Hunter Carter, Arent Fox partner and Vance Center Committee member, and Ciro Colombara, of Rivadeneira Colombar, Zegers Abogados, and board member of Fundación Pro Bono Chile, AMAmericas has had the supportof the Vance Center in  finding local counsel and coordinating some legal actions.

AMAmericas has pursued legal actions in Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Chile. In June 2016, Carter, as co-lead counsel, and Colombara signed a friendly settlement agreement with the Chilean government, which agreed to legislate marriage equality. The AMAmericas team had filed the case in May 2012 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights alleging that the Chilean Constitutional Tribunal and Supreme Court violated the American Convention on Human Rights when ruling that same sex couples, including some legally married in Canada and Argentina, are not entitled to civil marriage licenses.

AMAmericas in 2018 requested and appeared before a thematic hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which took place in December 2018, during the 170th session of the IACHR.  In collaboration with NGO representatives from Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico, AMAmericas representatives presented a report on the current status of legal protection for LGBT families.

In Carter’s opening statement, he referred to the hearing as a turning point in the long and infamous history of discrimination against LGBT people. He asserted that, through action by the Commission, “we can finally bring an end to that tragic history”. Representatives of each country described their governments’ rejections and delay tactics and the effect on LGBT people and their communities.

AMAmericas continues its efforts to secure throughout the Americas marriage equality and other rights and freedoms for LGBT people and communities. The Pro Bono Network of the Americas, supported by the Vance Center and Fundación Pro Bono Chile, will strengthen their support.