Colombian High Court Stands Firm On Gay Rights Support

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday March 13, 2013

The Colombian Constitutional Court reiterated its support for gay rights on Monday in a response to the Attorney General's Office, which filed a disagreement against the high court's rules that protect same-sex couples, the Colombian newspaper El Espectador reports.

Last year, Colombia's inspector general filed a complaint against the Constitutional Court's 2011 decision that said same-sex couples had a right to their partner's survivor pensions. On Monday, the court reiterated their stance and said, "Survivor pension protection extends to life partners of the same sex."

The high court also said that gay couples currently do not have the same rights as straight couples and urged the South American country's congress to pass a "comprehensive, systematic and orderly legislation" by June 20, 2013, that would provide more rights to LGBT citizens. The court noted that if congress fails to come to a decision by that time, same-sex couples will automatically be granted all marriage rights.

"The ruling held that the phrase 'man and woman' in the definition of marriage is in conformity with the Colombian Constitution, but the justices were of the view that such a phrase does not imply a prohibition against a legal bond between homosexuals, similar or equal to that of the heterosexual couples," according to the Constitutional Court's website.

Although Colombia does not recognize gay marriage, the country has progressed on gay rights since homosexual activity was decriminalized in 1980. Between February 2007 and April 2008, the Constitutional Court made three landmark rulings that granted registered same-sex couples the same pension, social security and property rights.

In 2009, the high court ruled that gay couples can enter into "de facto unions," which is similar to civil unions in the United States but requires the couple to live together for at least two years before entering into the union.

According to a poll conducted between December 2009 and January 2010 in Colombia's capital Bogota, 63 percent of the city's population supported marriage equality while 36 percent opposed it. The poll also found that women and people with higher education were more likely to back gay marriage.

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