Mexico City's leftist government allows gay conjugal visits in prisons

After the country's National Human Rights Commission recommendation Mexico's City's prison system allowed gay conjugal visits. It was done in spite of opposition from conservatives and religious organizations. The leftist government has also taken some controversial stands on social issues, such as abortion, prostitution and gay marriage.

"The Mexico City department of prisons and rehabilitation has allowed the first conjugal visit to an inmate with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual," the government-funded rights commission said Sunday in a news release. It called the move "an important step in terms of nondiscrimination regarding sexual preference."

In many Mexican prisons, inmates are allowed to receive conjugal visits, and most do not require the visitor to be married to the inmate. Special rooms are set aside in many prisons so that inmates and visitors can be alone during such visits.

The decision was prompted by a complaint filed by a man identified only as "Agustin N.," who said he wanted to visit his companion, "Ricardo N.," at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison on the city's east side.

Agustin filed a complaint with the rights commission - which has the power to make recommendations but not to enforce them - saying prison authorities had denied his request because the two are gay.

On Feb. 8 the commission ruled that was discrimination, and prison authorities decided - the statement did not say when - to allow the visit.

The commission said it still wants the policy change to be set down in writing and applied to all city prisons. The prisons department spokesman's office said he was not immediately available to comment on Sunday.

The leftist party that governs Mexico City has already legalized gay civil unions and abortion in the capital of this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, and has proposed legalizing prostitution, which is currently punishable here by 12 to 24 hours in jail and small fines.

Mexico as a whole adopted a law in 2003 banning discrimination based on sexual preference.