Deputy Reyna Celeste Ascencio Ortega, a member of the MORENA parliamentary group, presented in October 2020 a legislative initiative to reform section IV of article 29, corresponding to the chapter on infractions and sanctions of the Law on Religious Associations and Public Worship.
The proposal seeks to punish acts of discrimination based on people’s sexual identity or gender expression.
The deputy points out that the goal of the initiative is to prevent attacks from religious organizations and their agents against the population belonging to sexual minorities. It seeks to expressly sanction religious associations and ministers of worship whose teachings or expressions denigrate people for their sexual identity.
The opinion on the initiative, carried out by the Governance and Population Commission concluded that specifying “on the grounds of people’s sexual identity or gender expression” excludes acts of discrimination that religious associations or ministers of worship could be carried out with respect to people due to other characteristics, such as ethnic origin, age, religion, marital status, gender, etc. According to the ruling commission, the specificity was restrictive of other potential situations of discrimination.
However, if the infraction is constituted even in the ambiguous terms described by the commission, the law establishes sanctions that range from fines, closure, or temporary suspension of the rights of the association to cancellation of the registration of the religious association.
This initiative, if approved, would represent a direct violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since it would be limiting the freedom of the various religious groups in the country to express their religion or beliefs individually or collectively. In the same way, the right of religious groups to teach content according to their faith could be restricted.
On the other hand, it would mean interfering in the internal affairs of religious associations. In the same way that religious associations cannot impose their beliefs nor can they use the government to indoctrinate the population, the state should not define the guidelines or try to shape the doctrine of religious associations according to the principles or ideologies of the government in power. This interference would clearly break the principle of secularism.
The limit to the right to religious freedom is established by law in order to protect public security, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
Although there may be cases of discrimination that must be sanctioned, this does not imply making the exception to the rule or restricting in advance the religious freedom or the freedom of expression of confessional actors in an arbitrary way when their teachings or sayings are not in accordance with the point of view of other groups in the country whether they are of sexual diversity or not.