Mexican legal expert urges government action to protect registrars' consciences

.- A leading expert in Mexican law has called on legislators in Mexico City to guarantee the right to conscientious objection for civil registrars who oppose the new law on homosexual unions.  Alberto Patino Reyes said the promoters of the law were seeking to gain support from a particular voting bloc that is active in politics, the media and academia.

“It is necessary to protect officials of the Civil Registrar when the State becomes more and more interventionist, legislating on questions of profound ethical import, in this case attempting to make homosexual unions equivalent to marriage between a man and a woman,” Patino said.

He noted that the Mexican legal system lacks “express recognition of the right to conscientious objection,” but that the Mexican State is obliged to respect it because of the international accords it has ratified. These agreements include the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and the San Jose Pact, “which recognize the right of the person to freedom of conscience and religion” and are “hierarchically above federal laws.”

Patino stressed that when there is a conflict between conscience and the civil law, Civil Registrar officials experience a serious moral burden, and for this reason, “the State must guarantee what matters, which is the conscience of each official … since conscientious objection is an individual and not a collective right.”

“Conscientious objection, although it has roots in institutionalized religious beliefs, is essentially an individual phenomenon,” Patino said.  “It is the conscience of each person that, on the basis of one’s autonomy as an individual, generates a conflict with a concrete legal obligation,” he explained.

For this reason, Patino asked, “Just as they legislated on a matter that touches the moral fibers of the person, will they promote a law to guarantee conscientious objection for officials who for reasons of conscience refuse to obey this new norm?”

“The last word belongs to lawmakers, not only in Mexico City, the problem also includes federal lawmakers,” he said.

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