Several gay couples have already made the first requests for same sex marriages across Colombia, after a 2011 ruling by the Constitutional Court came into effect on Thursday.
“Just like the astronaut said, this is a small step for us but a big step for Colombia” said Elizabeth Castillo, one half of the first gay couple ever to apply for gay marriage in capital Bogota, after formally delivering their request to a notary.
Several requests have reportedly been made in Bogota, Cali and other major cities which will now be individually examined by Colombia’s notaries in order to see if the couple meet with the requirements before the civil marriage can be ratified. However, any couple that is rejected will have the right to appeal the decision in the Constitutional Court; it emerged after the application document was leaked on Wednesday.
It has also emerged that any couples denied their right to a civil marriage will receive legal backing from international gay rights organization LGBT, although Colombia’s Prosecutor General, Alejandro Ordoñez, already spoke out against anyone preventing the notaries from delivering their decisions.
The constitutional development has provoked an angry reaction from some sectors of society, including the Catholic Church, but Ordoñez on Thursday clarified that any form of disciplinary action taken against notaries fulfilling their new duties would be considered “an abuse of authority and of power.”
The intense public debate regarding gay marriage precedes a deadline for Friday set by the Constitutional Court two years ago. In the 2011 ruling, the court ordered Congress to come up with the necessary legislation to regulate gay rights. If not, all couples — whether straight or gay — will be allowed to get legally married.
Since the court issued the deadline, Congress has not been able to come to pass legislation under fierce resistance from conservative lawmakers who are strongly opposed to gay marriage they consider a privilege for heterosexual couples only.