(AFP) BOGOTA — Colombia on Wednesday approved the adoption of two children by a homosexual American man after custody had been revoked over his sexual orientation, in a ruling hailed by gay rights groups.

The judgment by the country’s Constitutional Court allowed brothers aged 10 and 13 to be formally adopted by Chandler Burr, whose custody of the children had been called into question because of his sexual orientation.

Burr, a journalist who has written for the New York Times and is single, legally adopted the two boys in March 2011 after two years of paperwork.

But Colombia’s Family Welfare Institute objected to their planned departure to the United States, citing Burr’s sexual orientation as a reason.

Burr’s lawyer German Rincon praised the court’s “historic” judgment for putting aside the “prejudices and irrational religious and conservative influences” that had surrounded the case.

Colombia, where nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line, promotes international adoptions. Of 3,058 children adopted in 2010, 1,999 were adopted by foreigners, according to the Family Welfare Institute.

Italy, France, the United States and Spain are the most common destinations.

In Colombia, gay couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples in terms of social services and inheritance, but cannot marry and have not been allowed to adopt.