A petition signed by over 2 million Colombians against same sex couples adopting children, was presented to Congress on Tuesday in an attempt to rewind legislation allowing gay couples to adopt.
Senator Viviane Morales (Liberal Party) put forward the appeal for Congress to endorse a referendum that would allow the Colombian people to decide whether or not gay couples should be permitted to adopt children.
The congresswoman explained their stance on the issue by stating that “the constitutional right of the formation of the family and the rights of children to grow up with a father and a mother must be respected”.
In November 2015, in a landmark ruling, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that no gay person could be excluded from a process of adoption, which opened the door to adopt children who have been abandoned by their parents and were in the care of Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF).
The measure, celebrated by the LGBT community in the country, was condemned by some sectors as the church and the conservative members of Congress.
Viviane Morales has since led a campaign called ‘Sign for Mom and Dad’ which aims to have the ruling overturned by a public referendum.
Initially Morales looked to be alone in her opposition to the ruling but apparently she has since managed to get 45 other Senators, mainly from the Democratic Center and Conservative parties, on board the anti-gay rights campaign.
The referendum to revoke the constitutional ruling required the opposition campaign to obtain a minimum of 1.8 million signatures by March this year, a feat which has been surpassed.
According to LGBT rights activists, such as the Diverse Colombia organisation, a referendum is unconstitutional because it is allowing the majority to decide on the rights of a minority.
Elizabeth Castillo, lawyer and coordinator of lesbian moms group, said a “populist initiative has no legal basis or constitutional support and will fall on constitutional revisions”.
“Yes, adoption is not a right. But homosexuals, like any citizen, have the right to form a family. Having either biological or adopted children. That right would be violated, “she adds.
According to Morales, the support of more than 45 senators will guarantee that it goes to a referendum.
She also moved to clarify the basis of the arguments related to her campaign, by claiming that it is not religious but moral and political, backed by scientific research.
“Studies in more than 13 countries say that children who grow up in more stable homes where there is a man and a woman do better in school, are less likely to fall into alcoholism, into drug addiction, and are at less risk of teen pregnancy and juvenile delinquency”, she says.
“Of course, there are also other studies may explore other positions, but the state can not be put to play or do social experiments where the guinea pigs are the most vulnerable children,” she added.
Lesbian activist Castillo says dispelled the claims and believes that the initiative has no future.
“With the initiative they want to limit the rights of the homosexual population. We can already adopt, can form a family. If it were to be processed in Congress, the Constitutional Court will not accept the initiative because it is contrary to all principles of sexual diversity.”
The process of obtaining a referendum has just started: if the Registrar accepts the signatures, the initiative will go to Congress where it must be approved in two debates in each chamber.
If it is accepted it will then be passed to the Constitutional Court to be approve and from there a referendum may be called.
A referendum would allow Colombia’s public to have the final say on the issue.