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Court Gives Colombia 2 Years to Make Gay Unions Legal

Court Gives Colombia 2 Years to Make Gay Unions Legal


Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that same-sex couples should be allowed access to equal marriage rights, giving the Legislature until June 20, 2013, to take up the matter and pass formal recognition of gay unions. If Congress doesn’t, the court said, same-sex couples will be allowed to go before a judge and have their unions formalized in this manner instead.

From Colombia Reports:

The court ruled that homosexual partners currently lack certain rights afforded to heterosexual partners and instructed Congress to pass a remedy through “comprehensive, systematic, and orderly legislation” by June 20, 2013 to address the imbalance. If Congress does not pass legislation in that time, homosexual couples will be permitted to go before a notary or a court to have their partnership recognized.

Reactions to the court’s decision were mixed among the Colombian LBGT community. Many gay Colombians were pleased that the court had insisted that they had a right to some form of union, but were dismayed that the court had sent the issue back to Congress.

Many news reports have suggested that this ruling effectively legalizes gay marriage. Indeed, the ruling would imply this but the court, in punting enforcement back to the Legislature, appears to have given lawmakers room to create marriage-equivalent unions (at least in legal terms) without having to take up same-sex marriage directly. This would appear a more likely outcome than legalizing full marriage equality given the strong level of resistance from certain groups.

Prior to the court’s decision, Catholic, Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Methodist, and Colombian Evangelical churches lobbied the court against recognizing same-sex partnership rights.

Congress has on several occasions routinely defeated same-sex partnership legislation, and while some liberal legislators seem keen to recognize gay unions as a fulfillment of the law’s equal rights mandate, conservative legislators contend the law as it stands is clear that marriage must be between a man and a woman.

From The Advocate:

The Congress appears split on the issue, according to the news site Colombia Reports.“The constitution is clear in arguing that marriage is between a man and a woman, not same-sex,” said Juan Manuel Corzo, the conservative chairman of the Senate. Liberal Party director Rafael Prado, though, noted that while many religious groups oppose marriage equality, “the church is the church, but political decisions and rights are issues that we in politics have an obligation to address. We defend those rights and it is clear that same-sex couples should have equal [rights].”

If Colombia was to grant full marriage equality, it would be the second country in South America to do so after Argentina. Several Latin American nations have already legalized some form of partnership recognition however, and a handful are also now considering same-sex marriage legislation.

Related Reading:

Brazilian Judge OKs Gay Civil Union to Become Marriage

U.N. Approves Resolution Against Anti-Gay Discrimination

Church Pressure Causes Brazilian President to Halt Distribution of School Anti-Homophobia Kits

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.

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12:40PM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

What are religious nutters supposed to do when one of their most reliable scapegoats is gaining rights around the world!

5:40AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

Domino effect! And even though the hundredth monkey was debunked - I still believe it! Keep up the faith and the positive - this too will com e to fruition - go Columbia! Let's drop the negative - it is a magical world where anything is possible!

8:46PM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

noted with thanks.

12:37PM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

I'm Colombian and I'm sure same rights will be granted to gay couples soon.
We Colombians are very open minded and respect gay people.
But religious groups here and all over seem more interested spreading hate than love.

11:16AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

Interesting to see what happens.

10:46AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

Columbia??? That will be an all up hill battle for years to come.

6:28AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

While churches must be permitted to set rules and laws for their own members, they must not be permitted to set the rules for all of society. A law that legalizes civil marriage and allows churches and religious groups to act in accord with their beliefs is a fair law -- and there WILL be Christian churches who will marry same-sex couples.

5:24AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

Same-sex couples should have equal rights, but don't expect a miracle overnight in Colombia.

10:01AM PDT on Jul 28, 2011

It's all smoke and no substance. In two years those judges will have either been voted out or (considering it's Columbia) will have been assasinated, and this court's ruling will be ignored or overturned. Sad, but probably true.

6:51AM PDT on Jul 28, 2011

It's a long slow road buy eventually ...

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