LGBT rights in Panama

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LGBT rights in Panama
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2008
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Military service No
Discrimination protections No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Panama may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Panama, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Laws against homosexuality

Homosexual acts are legal in Panama. The decriminalization occurred on July 31, 2008, when Presidential Decree No. 332 came into force. It repealed Article 12 of the Decree No. 149 of 1949, which previously criminalized homosexual relations.[1][2] The age of consent is equal at 18.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

There is no recognition of same-sex couples. A proposal that would have provided for same-sex civil unions was thrown out in 2004, mainly due to pressure on the government from the Catholic Church.[3] Only 12% of Panamanians would be okay with same-sex marriage being recognized in the country.[4]

Military service

Gays and lesbians are banned from both the armed forces and the police. Panama does not have an army and the police service is civil and not open to homosexuals or lesbians.

Discrimination protections

There are also no laws protecting gays from discrimination. However, there is consideration of outlawing discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Living conditions

In 1996 Panama's first lesbian and gay organisation Asociación Hombres y Mujeres Nuevos de Panama (AHMNP) was founded. It received legal recognition in 2005 after a 3 year battle with the authorities and the Catholic church. It is still the only gay and lesbian organisation in Panama. In 2004 they presented a petition calling for partnership rights, and in June 2005 Panama's first Gay Pride March was held with 100 AHMNP demonstrators.

Article 39 of the Constitution forbids the creation of "companies, associations or foundations" that are contrary to moral or legal order. In the past this has been used to refuse registration of gay organisations.

See also



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