Politicians in the Mexican Congress have struck down a proposal to legalize same sex marriage.
A constitutional committee of the lower house voted down the initiative put forward by president Enrique Peña Nieto, which would have allowed for same-sex unions for people in all of Mexico’s 32 states.
Same-sex marriage is currently permitted in Mexico City and in seven other states.
The latest blow to the embattled president came from within his own party, the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), with 19 deputies voting against the motion, eight voting in favor and one abstaining.
Peña Nieto is facing problems including a peso in free fall and a spiraling drug war
The vote puts an end to a process that has come under increasing pressure from the Catholic Church and conservative elements within society.
“How will history remember us?” said Daniel Ordoñez of the centre-left PRD, reminding his PRI colleagues that they were voting against a motion put forward by their own president, accusing them of using “ethical and moral” arguments rather than legal questions to oppose the law change.
César Camacho, coordinator of the PRI faction in the Mexican Congress, said in a tweet that there were no taboo subjects in Mexico and that the issue of gay marriage had been discussed responsibly and in great detail.
The news is a further setback for embattled President Peña Nieto who is battling with economic problems including a peso in free fall, a spiraling drug war, corruption scandals in his own party, and the fallout from the unpopular visit to Mexico by the US president-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to build a wall between the two countries. There were even revelations in the summer that he plagiarized his law school dissertation.
The Mexican president had originally announced the gay marriage proposal on Mexico’s National Day Against Homophobia, a holiday he created by decree on March 21, 2014.
But the plan has received a hostile reception from many in this deeply religious country, with conservatives demanding that the motion be shelved and that the government also remove all lessons on gender from textbooks used in preschools and primary schools.
How will history remember us now?
PRD politician Daniel Ordoñez
The Catholic Church had also campaigned hard against same-sex marriage, prompting the Vatican to step in recently to tell bishops in the country to step away from organizing protests against same-sex marriage.
This call to order was clearly directed at local bishops, headed up by the powerful Cardinal Norberto Rivera, who has embarked on a virulent crusade against the decision by President Enrique Peña Nieto to enshrine same-sex marriage in the Mexican Constitution.
English version by George Mills.