Ecuador: Activists Demand the Repeal of Law Penalizing Consensual Adult Homosexual Activity

On September 24, 1997, Ecuadorian activists presented to the Constitutional Tribunal a petition for the immediate repeal of Article 516 of the penal code, which criminalizes consensual, private homosexual activity among adults with 4 to 8 years imprisonment. The decision to present the petition followed an intensive process of mobilization and public education. Begun eight years ago, the mobilization gained renewed strength after the recent arrest of 14 gay men in the town of Cuenca. Ecuadorian activists were able to collect 1,460 signatures, 460 more than are needed to present a petition before the Tribunal. Collecting signatures provided activists with a unique opportunity for further public education among the community at large.

The petition has been accepted by the Constitutional Tribunal. The President and the Congress have fifteen working days to either accept or reject the petition. If accepted, the Tribunal would then publish a favorable resolution. If, however, either the President or Congress reject the petition, then the Tribunal has fifteen days to hold a public hearing at which the activists would present their case.

The Ecuadorian Constitution clearly espouses equality before the law for all persons. However, Article 516 -- dating back to 1938 -- penalizes homosexual activity. Article 516 violates the human rights of Ecuadorian citizens by depriving them of the rights to privacy and free expression, both of which are guaranteed under the American Convention on Human Rights (Articles 11 and 13), which was ratified by Ecuador in 1978. Furthermore, as affirmed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its 1995 decision Toonen v. Australia, Article 516 violates Articles 2 (equal protections) and 17 (right to privacy) of the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights.

Activists urgently request that letters be sent to the President and Congress demanding they accept the petition and repeal Article 516.

Send letters to:

Dr. Fabian Alarcón
Presidente Interino de la República
Palacio de Carondelet
García Moreno 1043
Quito, Ecuador
Tel: 593-2-210-300
Fax: 593-2-580-735
Fax: 593-2 580-142
Dr. Heinz Moelle Freire
Presidente del Congreso Nacional
Palacio Legislativo
Avenida ò de diciembre y Piedrahita
Quito, Ecuador
Tel. 593-2-526-251
Fax: 593-2-509-142