Mexico Passes Anti-Discrimination Law

Sun. June 15, 2003 12:00 AM by

Mexico City - Mexican lawmakers have passed the country's first civil rights law, guaranteeing equal rights for all minorities including members of the LGBT community.

President Vicente Fox called the federal measure "historic" as he signed the legislation.

The new law makes it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of ethnic or national origin, sex, age, disability, social or economic condition, conditions of health, pregnancy, language, religion, opinions, sexual preferences or civil status.

"It establishes that nobody should be excluded from social well-being because of ethnic origin, gender, age or religion," the president said.

But the law is already under attack. Civil libertarians accuse it of being toothless, with no means of enforcement, and the Catholic Church says the law is too strong and could restrict free speech particularly in its condemnation of homosexuality.

The law requires federal agencies to take steps to eliminate discrimination and calls for a campaign to promote tolerance in society.

A new National Council to Prevent Discrimination is supposed to receive and act upon complaints. However, violators will not be subject to criminal penalties.

Nevertheless it is seen as an important beginning by gay groups in the capital.

"It's an instrument of great importance for us, because it recognizes the problem. But even so, we believe it is insufficient," said Rodolfo Millan, legal coordinator for the Citizens Commission Against Homophobic Crimes.

©® 2003

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