The Colombian Constitutional Court is set to decide the most important issues facing same-sex couples in Colombia today: marriage and adoption. The court has until July 22 to issue its opinion on the petition presented by LGBT rights group Colombia Diversa along with legal advocates DeJusticia and others.
While the legislative branch has been reluctant to advance any discussion on the issue, on the contrary the court has stood up for the LGBT population on several occasions. In 2007, because of a court decision in a case also brought by Colombia Diversa, among others, Colombia became the first country in Latin America to authorize social security and pension benefits for same-sex couples. Since then the court has further expanded same-sex couples’ rights, giving its OK to 30 specific rights that heterosexual common-law couples enjoy.
Yet, the right to marry and the right to jointly adopt children, continues to be denied gay couples in Colombia.
Marcela Sánchez, executive director of Colombia Diversa, says that while the new rights that same-sex partners enjoy have been important milestones on the path towards equality, they aren’t the same as marriage rights. “Marriage is the legal classification that provides couples with the most rights and most protection. Recognizing marriage equality will do away with the second-class status that gay and lesbian Colombians have been subjected to for so long.”
In addition to filing this case, Colombia Diversa has assisted other pro-gay legal challenges, has conducted significant research on marriage rights and has been an important source of information for the Colombian media. Earlier this year it also launched a Web-based campaign “Sí acepto…” to promote marriage equality (www.matrimonioigualitario.org).