Couple celebrate first same-sex wedding in conservative Ecuador

Couple celebrate first same-sex wedding in conservative Ecuador

Alexandra Chavez (left) and Michelle Aviles have become the first same-sex couple to get married in
Alexandra Chavez (left) and Michelle Aviles have become the first same-sex couple to get married in Ecuador. (Photo: AFP/Marcos PIN)

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador: Alexandra Chavez and Michelle Aviles have made history in conservative Ecuador by becoming the first couple to take advantage of a new law allowing same-sex marriage.

Chavez, 41, and Aviles, 23, were married in a civil ceremony in the southwestern city of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest, on Thursday (Jul 19).

It became possible after Ecuador's Constitutional Court approved same-sex marriage on Jun 12.

Chavez, a burly security guard, admitted to feeling scared that the day might be ruined by conservative protesters, who had demanded the dismissal of the Constitutional Court's judges following last month's decision.

"I feel more supported by the laws. I know that many people don't think it's a good thing ... but we're not hurting anyone, we're not depriving anyone of anything, and it's a normal life," said Aviles, a kitchen hand.

However, winning over her family has been a tougher task with regards the relationship, and they're not even aware of the wedding.

When they find out "it's going to be boom! I don't know if they're going to be horrified ... but they don't look after me, Alex is my engine and everything," Aviles told AFP.

Distant cousins, they began a relationship when Aviles was 19 and Chavez had just returned home from Spain, where she had emigrated in 2002.

Their relationship began as they ran a food sales business together and, faced with a family that wouldn't accept it, Aviles moved in with Chavez.

"The hardest then was my dad. He's accepted it, more or less, but we're still estranged," said Aviles.

Chavez had long hidden her sexuality from her parents - who are now dead - but she came clean while living in Spain following an accident in which her then-partner died.

"It was a little weight off my shoulders. I think they already knew, but it's different when it's said out loud," said Chavez.

While gay marriage is now legal in Ecuador, as it is in fellow South American countries Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, same-sex couples are still barred from adopting children.

Source: AFP/nh

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