Colombia’s State Council ruled on Monday that gay couples, alongside other less traditional family units, still constitute family, contradicting conservatives and the Catholic Church who claim a family must contain a husband and wife.
The high court’s decision means that family has less to do with traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and is instead based on “bonds of solidarity, love and coexistence.”
The decision comes after compensation was paid to the daughter of a man who died at the hands of a prison guard. Prison authority INPEC consequently was fined 265 million pesos for his death, much of which was paid in compensation to his only family member.
The ruling decided that as well as the traditional meaning, family can “consist of a father and a daughter, the traditional union of a man and a woman and also the voluntary decision between couples of the same sex who want to make their own family.”
The timing of this ruling is particularly relevant when viewed in light of the recent legalization of same-sex marriages within Colombia, the first of which is due to take place on Wednesday, despite legal resistance by conservative political forces or religious institutions.
The high court’s decision goes directly against recent statements made by the Catholic Church, which said gay couples cannot claim to be a family because these are “based on fundamental laws of nature.”
Over recent years many Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, have legalized gay marriage – only a handful of countries on the continent now actively oppose union between homosexual couples.