But when two men can still get escorted from a Guadalajara nightclub by policemen with machine guns for sharing a kiss, it’s apparent Mexico has quite a ways to go when it comes to gay rights.
Mexico, meanwhile, is in the middle of a radical transformation. In 2009, Mexico City became the first Latin American jurisdiction to legalise marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, but the rest of the country is still playing catch-up with the liberal capital.
A 2010 Supreme Court ruling means marriages registered in Mexico City are recognised everywhere, but same-sex ceremonies remain outlawed in most of the country and only a limited number have been allowed in five of Mexico’s 31 states.
With LGBTQ rights already established in the capital, the latest focus for campaigners has been Mexico’s second-most populous metropolis, Guadalajara, in Jalisco state.
The birthplace of tequila and Mexican rodeo, Guadalajara is considered a bastion of conservatism, but this stereotype masks the fact that it is home to dozens of gay bars and a well-organised LGBTQ community.
In October 2013, the Jalisco Congress legalised civil unions—enhancing same-sex couples’ inheritance rights and eligibility for social security benefits—without permitting marriage or adoption.
Resistance to the legislation was led by the right-wing National Action Party—known by its Spanish acronym, PAN—whose congressional leader Gildardo Guerrero Torres dismissed the bill as “an agenda pushed by the international gay lobby” that would end up “creating a cheap version of marriage by another name”.
“We respect people’s sexual differences, but we believe that the institution of marriage should be preserved between a man and a woman,” Guerrero told Al Jazeera.
His comments echoed those of Bishop Leopoldo Gonzalez of the archdiocese of Guadalajara, who told Al Jazeera that “the position of the Church is never going to change… Marriage is between a man and a woman. Anything else cannot be called marriage.”
Homosexuality “goes against nature” and undermines the traditional family model, Gonzalez added. “In order to grow healthily, we need a paternal figure and a maternal figure.”
Such views are increasingly at odds with public opinion, which is rapidly turning in favour of the gay community.