Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled Friday the government cannot restrict gay couples’ freedom to express affection in public.

The ruling comes after two men in Cali were forced to leave a mall after a security guard found them kissing. The court decided the incident was in violation of the couple’s human rights.

The judge stated in his ruling that “no restrictions exist other than those imposed by the legal order for all couples,” and that the security guard’s actions showed “discrimination that only affected gay couples.”

Gay rights have been thrust into the public eye recently after a gay American man working in Colombia was seperated from his two adopted children in March 2011 by Colombia’s Family Welfare Institute (ICBF). The Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that the two children be returned to their adoptive father. In the wake of the decision, Colombia’s inspector general proposed reversing the court order, citing the children’s rights in his decision.

Consensual homosexual acts were decriminalized in Colombia in 1980. Courts ruled in favor of granting registered same-sex couples the same property and social security rights as heterosexual couples in three separate cases between 2007 and 2008.
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