Colombia gay rights proponents to fight annulment of same-sex marriage

Posted on Oct 5 2013 - 2:02am by Rico

People attend a demonstration to support the passage of the same-sex marriage law at Bolivar square in BogotaGay rights proponents in Colombia have contested the legitimacy of a court order annulling the marriage of a homosexual couple and vowed to appeal the ruling in higher courts.

Colombian lawyer and gay rights activist Mauricio Albarracin told Colombia Reports that the next step will be to appeal the ruling, most likely in a higher court in Bogota.

“The court’s decision has no standing,” Albarracin told Colombia Reports, adding that the recent ruling only affects the individual marriage in question, and does not necessarily set a precedent. Another two women were married over the weekend in a rural town near Bogota, who Albarracin said would not be affected by the ruling.

According to Albarracin, the legal struggle for gay rights in Colombia has taken place primarily in the court system since Colombia drafted a new constitution in 1991 promising equal rights for all citizens and setting a framework for progressive laws.

Two years ago Colombia’s Constitutional Court ordered the Congress to pass legislation giving same-sex couples the right to civil marriage, and granting it automatically if no such legislation was passed before June 20, 2013.

The Congress failed to pass any civil marriage legislation and this past July Colombian judges began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Since same-sex marriages appeared in Colombia there has been vocal resistance, with the Catholic church coming out in opposition along with anti-gay marriage group, Husband and Wife Foundation, led by lawyer Javier Suarez. Since July there have been a series of legal challenges brought against same-sex marriages.

Suarez, who brought a constitutional challenge against the marriage of two men in Bogota, has also called for criminal proceedings against judges for granting same-sex marriage licenses. Suarez says that such judges “support illegal acts due to the fact that they see homosexuality as a ‘human right’ when it is really a clinical and psychological problem.”

Senator Armando Benedetti, a supporter of equal marriage rights in Congress, told Colombia Reports that the constitutional challenge of The Husband and Wife Foundation “was backwards,” because same-sex marriage does not infringe upon the rights of anyone else, whereas denying homosexuals the right to marry infringes upon their “fundamental right to raise a family.”

In Latin America, both Argentina and Brazil have recognized same-sex marriages. While Colombia has not yet settled the question on the legality of same-sex marriage, it does recognize domestic partnerships for same-sex unions, although LBGT rights activists say equal marriage protection necessitates legal civil marriages for homosexual couples.

Albarracin said that while the struggle over the rights of same-sex couples in Colombia will continue in the courts, he hopes the issue will receive wider acknowledgement in society as a whole, translating into more support for the homosexual community. “In Colombia we are in the process of building democracy and a very important part of that task is recognizing the rights of minorities.”

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