The First Chamber of the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that homophobic epithets are not protected under the nation’s “freedom of expression” laws. The case dealt with two rival journalists who publicly criticized each other’s work using such words as “maricones” (“faggots”) and “puñal” (“faggot rapist/predator”). According to a press release from the Court (translated by Andrés Duque), such language is discriminatory even if it is used jokingly:
The First Chamber determined that homophobic expressions or — in other words the frequent allegations that homosexuality is not a valid option but an inferior condition — constitute discriminatory statements even if they are expressed jokingly, since they can be used to encourage, promote and justify intolerance against gays.
For this reason, the Chamber determined that the terms used in this specific case — made up of the words “maricones” and “puñal” — were offensive. These are expressions which are certainly deeply rooted in the language of Mexican society but the truth is that the practices of a majority of participants of a society cannot trump violations of basic rights.
In addition, the First Chamber determined that these expressions were irrelevant since their usage was not needed in resolving the dispute taking place as related to the mutual criticism between two journalists from Puebla. Therefore it was determined that the expressions “maricones” and “puñal”, just as they were used in this specific case, were not protected by the Constitution.
The Supreme Court of Canada similarly ruled last month that anti-gay rhetoric is a violation of the country’s hate speech laws.
These landmark rulings by the America’s North American neighbors come as the United States Supreme Court prepares to hear two cases related to same-sex marriage.