Status of Marriage Law
Same-sex couples cannot marry because of a 2009 article in the Constitution restricting marriage to different-sex couples.
History of Pro-Marriage Efforts
In 2004 the Bolivian Parliament passed Law 810: Framework Law of Sexual and Reproductive Rights, which allowed same-sex couples to marry and foster children. But the president at the time, Carlos Mesa, vetoed it.
In 2012, a few years after Argentina’s passage of civil marriage for same-sex couples, the opposition party introduced a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry. The bill failed. Another bill was introduced in September 2016, following the successful passage of the Gender Identity law.
In 2015 Bolivia passed an updated Family Code that did not include restrictions around gender in its discussion of marriage. Activists thought that this could be a way to establish civil marriage for same-sex couples, but the law was quickly clarified to signal that it does not permit marriages between same-sex couples and that this would require a new law.
In 2015 LGBT activists drafted new legislation called the Family Life Agreement that seeks relationship recognition between same-sex couples.
The 2016 “Gender Identity Law” included a provision allowing transgender people to marry. In November 2017, however, the Constitutional Tribunal found this part of the law unconstitutional.
Status of Other LGBTQ-Related Laws
- Homosexuality is decriminalized in Bolivia.
- The state Constitution prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity also face augmented sentences.
- In 2016 the Bolivian legislature passed the “Gender Identity Law,” one of the most progressive, pro-transgender laws in Latin America. It passed both chambers of the legislature, and Congress did not advance attempts to appeal it later that year.
Pending Marriage Litigation
The Organización de Travestis Transgéneros y Transexuales Femeninas de Bolivia has filed an official complaint with the Inter-American Court in response to the 2017 ruling from the Constitutional Tribunal striking down the section of the Gender Identity Law that explicit permits adoptions and marriages for transgender people. A decision from the Inter-American Court could pave the way for marriages between same-sex couples.
In December 2020, a same-sex couple won a two-year battle to register their “free union” – a legal partnership that confers many of the protections of civil marriage – citing the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ advisory opinion OC-24.