Reading: Sexuality, Law, and Religion in Latin America: Frameworks in Tension


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Sexuality, Law, and Religion in Latin America: Frameworks in Tension


Juan Marco Vaggione


One challenge opened by contemporary sexual politics in Latin America is to rethink the relations between religion and law. The debate on the regulations of sexuality, reproduction or the family makes visible the complex interconnections between religious worldviews and the legal system. Particularly, how the secularization of law has been compatible with an imbrication process in which law traduces and conserves Catholic sexual morality into secular regulations. The article offers an analysis of the ways in which stakeholders in conflict over sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America mobilize religion and the law to pursue their agendas. First, the article considers the main strategies implemented by the feminist and sexual diversity movements in order to overcome the power and influence of the Catholic Church on lawmaking processes. Although these movements tend to share an anti-clerical standpoint, they present a complex and dynamic construction of religion. Second, it presents different adaptions by Catholic sectors in defense of a natural sexual order. In their quest to influence state legal systems, these sectors deploy a dynamic and strategic understanding of religion and its impact upon public and legal debates. Building upon these considerations, the article contributes to the question of the complex articulations between religion and law in contemporary Latin America.

How to Cite: Vaggione, J.M., 2018. Sexuality, Law, and Religion in Latin America: Frameworks in Tension. Religion and Gender, 8(1), pp.14–31. DOI:
Published on 23 Nov 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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