Bogotá, July 26, 2011
The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday afternoon that the Congress must create an equivalent of marriage for same-sex couples by June 20, 2013. If the Congress refuses to act by then, gay couples will automatically have the right to go to any notary public or judge in the country to formalize their union. The court also ruled that same-sex couples can indeed constitute a family.
Marcela Sánchez, executive director of Colombia Diversa said, “This is an historic decision for equality in Colombia.”However she noted that “given the Colombian Congress’ track record in its neglect to guarantee minimal rights for LGBT persons in Colombia in the past, this probably means that same-sex couples will have to wait to finally be treated equal under the law. We look forward to that day when marriage equality becomes a reality.”
Congress has had six opportunities to approve minimal rights for same-sex couples and has failed each time.
The case, a challenge to the Article 113 of the Civil Code which defined marriage as an exclusive contract between a man and a woman with the purpose of procreation, was brought to the Constitutional Court by Colombia Diversa, the legal advocacy group DeJusticia and other organizations and citizens.
Currently, same-sex couples in Colombia have the equivalent of American civil unions that grant them almost all marriage rights except joint adoption. That came as a result from a Constitutional Court ruling in 2007. That case was also brought by Colombia Diversa along with other organizations.
A decision on same-sex couples' adoption rights is pending, and is expected to be made in August.