Congress struck down a bill that would have granted gay couples the right to marry, however, same sex couples can still seek civil unions in Colombian courts starting June 21.
Following Congress’ decision on Wednesday to sink the proposal to allow same sex marriage in Colombia, a 2011 Constitutional Court ruling will come into effect, permitting gay couples to formalize their relationships before the State for the first time.
The ruling specifies that the civil unions are not the same as marriage as defined in the Colombian Constitution, and same sex couples will not have the right to adopt children, however, once approved by a notary the partnerships will have all the same rights as heterosexual unions.
Senator Armando Benedetti, the proponent of the sunken gay marriage law, said that he had expected Congress’ decision to reject gay marriage, describing Congress to Colombia Reports as “like a barnyard” before declaring that he will continue to fight for the rights of gays in Colombia; “the fight will be won in the Constitutional Court” he said.
Angelica Lozano, Bogota councillor and activist for the International Lesbian Gay and Tran-sexual Rights group (LGBTI) also told Colombia Reports that the outcome of the congressional debate was an expected one, and declared that she believed gay marriage in Colombia could be achieved “in one or two years’ time.”
On the other side of the debate, Senator Eduardo Enriquez Maya of the Conservative party praised the decision, saying that it upheld the Colombian Constitution.
“The party is respectful of life and of equality, but also of decency,” he said.
Monsignor Jose Daniel Falla, the secretary general of Colombia’s Episcopal Conference (CEC) also declared the Catholic Church’s support for the failing of the law stating, “We have to remember that there exist fundamental principles, essential values that need to be forever maintained in order to have a solid and stable country.”
Falla also called on Colombia’s notaries to act so that any document joining homosexual couples in civil unions doesn’t equate to the characteristics of marriage, or to the institution of the family.
Jorge Enrique Velez Garcia the Superintendent of Colombia’s notaries and registry, told Colombia Reports that the unions that will be available to Colombia’s same sex couples are “a contract between two people that in no way is the same as marriage.”
Velez also confirmed that no notaries will be able to refuse to carry out their duty in serving same sex couples with civil unions, and that any that do will face disciplinary action and potential dismissal.
- Notarios unirán a parejas del mismo sexo tras hundirse matrimonio gay (El Tiempo)
- Interview with Armando Benedetti, Angelica Lozano and Jorge Velez Garcia
- Iglesia celebra defensa de la institución familiar (Conferencia Episcopal de Colombia)