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Mexico: Supreme Court Upholds Constitutional Right of People with Intellectual Disabilities to Marry

(Feb. 18, 2020) On January 30, 2020, the Supreme Court of Mexico declared unconstitutional the provisions in the Civil Code of the State of Guanajuato that expressly prohibit persons with intellectual disabilities from marrying.

The National Human Rights Commission filed an action before the Court at the end of 2018 arguing that article 503, section II and article 153, section IX of the Guanajuato Civil Code were unconstitutional because they violated the universal human rights of people with intellectual disabilities.

The Supreme Court unanimously determined that the Code’s prohibition violated the right of persons with disabilities to equal and nondiscriminatory treatment provided in article 1 of both the Constitution of Mexico and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Mexico is a party.

The Court also invalidated article 503, section II of the Code for defining “adults with intellectual disabilities, even if they have lucid intervals” as “persons with natural and legal disabilities.” This provision prevented them from making any legal decisions, such as the decision to leave property as an inheritance or accept property as an inheritance, and subjected them to the obligation of having a guardian. The Court also invalidated article 153, section IX, which classified intellectual disability as an impediment to marriage.

A reform of the Code in 2018 eliminated derogatory terms the Code employed to refer to people with intellectual disabilities such as “idiot” and “imbecile” and replaced them with the term “intellectual disability.” However, the prohibitions that limited the legal rights of persons with intellectual disabilities were not eliminated by the reform.