Church in Mexico wins lawsuit filed by ‘trans’ person seeking baptismal record change

Baptism Credit Bart Sadowski Shutterstock CNA Credit: Bart Sadowski/Shutterstock

A Mexican court has ruled in favor of the Diocese of Querétaro, located in the north-central region of the country, in a lawsuit filed by a person who identifies as transgender and demanded that the diocese change the sex indicated on the church’s baptismal certificate and registry.

According to Tomás Henríquez, director of the Latin American and Caribbean division of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International — an organization that helped the diocese in this case — the complaint, filed for the first time in 2021, demanded that the Catholic Church change the baptismal record “so that it reflects the person’s claim to be a woman instead of a man.”

In a May 14 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Henríquez explained that the Catholic Church refused to make the change due to “the immutable doctrine of the Church regarding the constitution of the person as a man, as a woman, who has been created that way by God.”

Faced with the Church’s refusal, the complaining party turned to Mexico’s National Data Protection Institute (INAI), a federal agency in charge of adjudicating claims of data protection violations, which issued an order requiring the Diocese of Querétaro to carry out the requested change.

The religious institution challenged this decision with the legal support of ADF International, and the INAI decision was annulled by a federal district court. That ruling was then appealed by the complainant to the 22nd circuit of Federal Collegial Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the Diocese of Querétaro.

The case was then taken to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), Mexico’s highest federal court.

Henríquez explained that the SCJN “refused” to take the case, “noting that it had already given sufficient guidelines within its jurisprudence to resolve the matter.”

“With that, the appeals court ruling in favor of the Church stands, based on arguments of autonomy of religious institutions,” he said.

The ADF International official also highlighted that this ruling backs the “autonomy of religious institutions” based on articles 24 and 130 of the Political Constitution of Mexico as well as the international agreements that the country has signed, in which “the churches are guaranteed that they will have the freedom to direct their internal affairs freely and without arbitrary interference on the part of the state.”

Henríquez said that in the defense for the Diocese of Querétaro it was argued that “baptismal records have no other functionality or objective than to allow the Church to keep reliable historical records of the administration of the sacraments.”

The ADF director warned that if the state “obligated, forced” the modification of records, it would have been “interfering with the internal government of the Church, which ended up being inadmissible.”

For the expert, this case is fundamental, because it shows that “even understanding the existence of a so-called right to gender identity, this does not grant one the right to impose oneself on the Church with the claim to have to be recognized as a woman in circumstances where that person’s constitution is masculine.”

Other cases in Latin America

This is not an isolated event. In Latin America, similar cases have arisen, such as that of a “trans” person who demanded that the Archdiocese of Salta, Argentina, change the person’s baptism and confirmation records.

In that case, the Supreme Court of the Nation of Argentina rejected the demand and ruled that the Catholic Church is protected from this type of lawsuit due to the separation of church and state and the autonomy of religious organizations.

Similar situations have also been recorded in Bolivia and Chile, which is why Henríquez stressed that these cases are important “by marking a trend at the regional level about how the courts of justice have dealt with” the issue of sacramental records in the Catholic Church in face of lawsuits from “trans” people.

“Beyond the requests of individuals who demand this modification of baptismal records, I believe that it reveals an intention, ultimately, to subjugate the Church and the churches,” the jurist warned, seeking to “subject the Church to the will of the claimant and in turn, or by extension, to that of the state.”

More in Americas

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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