Colombian authorities have denied a U.S. journalist the right to bring home two young Colombian boys he had legally adopted, after learning of his sexual orientation, according to La Semana magazine.
The authorites claim it was the fact that Chandler Burr did not disclose his sexual orientation to them that they object to.
Speaking on CNN’s American Morning on Wednesday Burr — a novelist, former New York Times columnist, and museum curator — described his stuggle to get his boys back after the adoption process was halted at the last minute.
The story began in summer 2009 when the children spent 5 weeks with Burr in New York. Following this, in March 2010, Burr began the process of formally adopting the two boys — now aged 9 and 13 — through the Colombian Family Welfare Unit (ICBF).
It was only during the final preparations in March 2011 that problems arose. According to Burr, after mentioning his sexuality in an informal conversation, a lawyer representing the ICBF removed the children from his care and interrogated them on the issue, before notifying Burr that he would not be able to take them back to the U.S.
Responding to yesterday’s CNN program with an interview on Caracol Radio, the new director of ICBF Diego Molano defended the decision on the basis that the institute have “a right to know who he [the father] is”, and that Mr. Burr had hidden this important information about his sexual orientation from them.
However, the Colombian Constitutional Court explicitly forbids using sexual orientation as a criterion for determining whether a person should be allowed to adopt.
According to former judge Eduardo Montealegre; “Colombian law allows a single person to adopt a child. Furthermore, there is no prohibition or limitation restricting adoption based on the sexual orientation of the individual”. In practice, however, adoption by gay men in Colombia is seldom allowed.
According to Burr, the children knew that he was gay and didn’t have any problem with it; “When the lawyer asked them if they knew I was gay, my eldest son Brian, who is 13, responded ‘I know and I don’t care.'”
Burr has vowed to fight the Colombian authorities on the issue, claiming that his rights are being violated. The case is currently under review in the Constitutional Court.