On Wednesday 12 June, the Constitutional Court in capital city Quito voted five-to-four to introduce marriage equality for LGBTQ people in the small South American nation, following in the footsteps of countries like Brazil and Colombia.

The four judges who voted against the decision argued that constitutional reform would have to be debated in the National Assembly in order to recognise same-sex marriage across Ecuador.

But former Supreme Court president Gustavo Medina told AFP that the Constitutional Court decision was “binding and mandatory” and that Ecuadoran authorities were obliged to abide by it.

The decision came as the Constitutional Court ruled on lawsuits from two pairs of men who wanted to get married, including a couple called Efrain Soria and Javier Benalcazar.

“I want to say hello to Javier, who is in Guayaquil. Honey, I love you,” Soria told reporters in Quito, while urging other LGBTQ people to “enjoy the happiness that comes from being equal, like anyone else”.

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions since 2008 in Ecuador, although they aren’t allowed to adopt children.

Ecuador also became one of the first countries in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1998, and is one of the few countries in the world where gay conversion ‘therapy’ is banned.

“It means that Ecuador is more egalitarian. It is more just than yesterday, that it recognizes that human rights must be for all people without discrimination,” said lawyer Christian Paula of the Patka Foundation

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