Same-sex marriage in Colombia
Same-sex marriage is legal in Colombia. A 6-3 ruling of the Constitutional Court of Colombia on 28 April 2016 found that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional under the Colombian Constitution. The first same-sex marriage to be performed in the country following the ruling occurred on 24 May 2016. The country has also recognised same-sex de facto unions since 2007.
De facto unionsEdit
On 7 February 2007, the Constitutional Court of Colombia extended several common-law marriage property and pension rights to same-sex couples. A subsequent court decision, handed down in October 2007, extended social security and health insurance rights to same-sex couples. Next, on 28 January 2009, the Constitutional Court modified 20 laws to give 42 more rights to cohabitating same-sex couples that were previously only granted to heterosexual couples (including nationality, residence permits, testimony when in jury, family-properties laws, etc.). A final ruling took place on 13 April 2011 that extended inheritance rights to same-sex couples.
A couple is regarded as a de facto union after living together for two years. A union can be either registered or unregistered; both have the same status, but the registered union may provide greater convenience when accessing rights. A union can be registered through a public deed before a notary or a judge.
On 26 July 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled by a 9-0 vote that it couldn't change the current definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but also that same-sex couples have the right to form a family and ordered the Colombian Congress to pass legislation addressing this issue (whether by legalizing same-sex marriage or another marriage-like union) within a two years deadline (by June 20, 2013). If such a law is not passed until then, same-sex couples will be automatically able to register their relationship with the same solemnity as heterosexual couples do through marriage.
From February 2007 to August 2012, at least 51 same-sex de facto unions were performed in the coastal city of Cartagena. During that same time period, 74 and 140 such unions were performed in the cities of Soledad and Bogotá, respectively.
Civil union proposalsEdit
On 15 June 2007, the lower house of the Congress of Colombia approved a historic same-sex couples bill by a vote of 62-43, and President Uribe was expected to sign the measure, which had been approved by the Colombian Senate in April. However, on June 19, a group of conservative senators broke party discipline in what is usually a routine vote on the final form of a bill and defeated the measure by 34-29 in the 102-member Senate. About 80 LGBT rights advocates held a demonstration outside Congress the following day, protesting the bill's defeat. Supporters vowed to revive the legislation.
The bill, which had been endorsed by conservative President Alvaro Uribe, would have made Colombia the first nation in Latin America to grant same-sex couples in long-term relationships the same rights to health insurance, inheritance and social security as heterosexual couples.
On March 17, 2015, Senator Armando Benedetti introduced a civil union bill. The bill failed as it was not debated in time. The bill was re-introduced by Senator Roy Barreras on July 30, 2015. On the same day, Senators Benedetti and Barreras introduced a bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.
In 2011, after the Constitutional Court ruling, five bills were announced in Congress to correct the disadvantage of same-sex couples, two bills used the word "marriage", two of them created civil unions.
In October 2012, Senator Armando Benedetti introduced a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill initially only allowed for civil unions, but the text was changed by Benedetti. President Juan Manuel Santos didn't take a position on the bill. The Senate's First Committee approved the bill on December 4, 2012. On April 24, 2013, the bill was rejected by the Senate in a 17-51 vote, after being postponed on two different occasions. The negative outcome was expected, as the two biggest parties made a commitment to kill the bill. Senator Benedetti responded to the vote calling the Colombian Congress "worthless", and stating that Senators who voted against the project wanted the country's Legislature to be like the ones of "Congo, Uganda, Bolivia and Haiti".
Days before the vote, Superintendent Jorge Enrique Vélez announced that if the Congress failed to pass the same-sex marriage bill before the June 20 deadline, the Minister of Justice would prepare guidelines for notaries and judges to conduct "solemn contracts" for same-sex couples. On 18 April 2013, the country's Notaries Association presented their own proposal, which sought to set guidelines for the celebration of same-sex couples' "marital unions". On June 20, notaries across the country started performing these unions; however LGBT activists advised people not to engage in those contracts because, they said, the framework for a "marital contract" did not exist in the country's laws. In the following days, several couples made petitions to judges to have their relationships recognized through marriage.
On July 24, 2013, a civil court judge in Bogotá declared a male same-sex couple legally married, after a ruling on July 11, 2013 accepting the petition. This was the first same-sex couple married in Colombia.
In September 2013, two civil court judges married two same-sex couples. The first marriage was challenged by a conservative group, and it was initially annulled. Nevertheless, in October a High Court (Tribunal Supremo de Bogotá) maintained the validity of that marriage. The same-sex marriage issue will now once again come before the Constitutional Court after the country's Inspector General requested that the Court invalidate all the marriages. A hearing was scheduled for 7 May 2015. The hearing was postponed as some judges were not present and a new hearing open to the public happened on 30 July 2015. A verdict was to be reached before 31 August 2015.
In May 2015, Colombian Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo announced the Colombian Government's support for a move to recognise same-sex marriage. He made the statement the day after a multi-country same-sex couple began an unprecedented legal battle to have their 2013 marriage (registered in Spain) recognised in Colombia.
Recognition of same-sex marriages performed overseasEdit
Colombian government agencies began recognising same-sex marriages lawfully performed in foreign jurisdictions in March 2016. Same-sex couples married abroad will be entitled to the same visa, healthcare benefits, inheritance and pension rights as heterosexual spouses once they take a stamped marriage certificate and identification papers to the nearest designated office.
Constitutional Court rulingEdit
In March 2016, a draft of a ruling, considered to be a minority opinion of the Constitutional Court, was published by Judge Jorge Ignacio Pretelt. The draft said that marriage applies only to one man and one woman and that it is up to Congress to legalize same-sex marriage. On April 7, 2016, the Court voted 6-3 against the proposal. Judge Alberto Rojas Río was assigned to prepare a new proposal, which is expected to be in line with the court majority's view (i.e. to declare that prohibiting same-sex couples from getting married is unconstitutional). The Court announced its decision on 28 April 2016, ruling by a 6-3 margin that "marriage between people of the same sex does not violate the constitutional order." The ruling established that every 'solemn contract' entered into by same-sex couples since June 20, 2013 (under the provisions of the court's previous ruling in the C-577/2011 case) is legally valid and to be recognised as a marriage, meaning that couples who have entered into such unions since June 20, 2013 need not remarry as a result of the court's April 2016 ruling. The ruling was officially published on 7 July 2016.
Presiding Judge Maria Victoria Calle told the court; "all people are free to choose independently to start a family in keeping with their sexual orientation... receiving equal treatment under the constitution and the law." The court's ruling informed state judges, notaries and clerks that they "must ensure that citizens' fundamental rights are observed and that they are all granted equal treatment."
On 12 July 2016, the Constitutional Court rejected a challenge to the ruling filed by a conservative group that opposes same-sex marriage. In January 2017, the Constitutional Court rejected an appeal filed by former Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez to nullify the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
In Colombia, civil marriages are performed by notaries and judges. Up to March 2017, there was no unified statistical report concerning the first year of same-sex marriage in Colombia. Nonetheless, notaries had been reporting partial data, leaving marriages performed by judges excluded. Every marriage performed in Colombia has to be registered with the Registraduría Nacional de Colombia.
47 same-sex couples wed in Colombia from April to October 2016. 11 of these couples married in the department of Cundinamarca (including Bogotá), 10 in Valle del Cauca, five in both Antioquia and Risaralda, four in Quindío, two in Atlántico, Magdalena and Santander, and one each in Caquetá, Cesar, Huila, Meta, Norte de Santander and Tolima.
From April to December 2016, 117 same-sex marriages were celebrated in Colombia. The departments with the most such marriages were Antioquia with 37, Cundinamarca and Bogotá with 26, Valle del Cauca with 20 and Risaralda with 15. In Atlántico, 3 same-sex marriages were performed.
A poll conducted between December 2009 and January 2010 in Colombia's capital, Bogota, showed that 63% of the city's population was in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, while 36% was against it. The poll showed that women and people with a higher education level were more likely to support same-sex marriage.
A nationwide poll taken in November 2012, however, found that 28% of Colombians supported same-sex marriage, while 66% opposed it and 6% did not respond.
A Gallup national poll conducted in July 2016, showed that 40% of Colombians supported same-sex marriage while 57% were opposed.
- "Primera boda gay en Colombia se realizó en Cali". Radio En Vivo. 24 May 2016. Archived from the original on 31 May 2016.
- "Colombia legalises same-sex marriage". ABC News Australia. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 29 April 2016.
- (in Spanish) EL TIEMPO - Corte da primer derecho a parejas gays
- "Rights for Colombia gay couples". BBC News. 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- Colombian court rules in favour of equal rights for gay couples, Pink News, 6 October 2007
- Histórico: Colombia tiene matrimonio homosexual, Pink News, 30 January 2009
- (in Spanish) 42 disposiciones modificó la Corte Constitucional para amparar derechos de las parejas gay,El Tiempo, 2009-01-29. Retrieved on July 02, 2009
- (in Spanish)El Tiempo. Corte explica por qué matrimonio homosexual es decisión del Congreso. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
- Top Colombian court affirms gay couples' right to joint health plans, International Herald Tribune
- (in Spanish) Union marital de hecho
- DECISION C-577/11 The homosexuals have the right to form a family
- "Colombian court says Congress must decide on gay marriage". CNN. 2011-07-27.
- (in Spanish) Se disparan uniones entre homosexuales en el Caribe colombiano
- Forero, Juan (2007-07-16). "Colombia to Recognize Gay Unions With Extension of Health, Other Benefits". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- Goodman, Joshua (2007-07-21). "Colombia Conservatives Derail Same-Sex Couples Bill". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- Ceaser, Mike (2007-04-26). "Gay rights grow in Colombia". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- (in Spanish) Benedetti radica paquete de proyectos que no dan espera para ser debatidos
- (in Spanish) N° Senado: 141/15
- (in Spanish) Proyecto de matrimonio y adopción gay divide a la Unidad Nacional
- (in Spanish) POR MEDIO DE LA CUAL SE REGULA LA UNION CIVIL ENTRE PAREJAS DEL MISMO SEXO Y SE DICTAN OTRAS DISPOSICIONES
- (in Spanish) Proyecto de Ley “Por medio de la cual se regula la Unión Civil entre parejas del mismo sexo”
- (in Spanish) POR MEDIO DE LA CUAL SE REFORMA LA LEY 1098 DE 2006 EN RELACIÒN CON LA MEDIDA DE PROTECCIÒN DE LA ADOPCIÓN Y SE DICTAN OTRAS DISPOSICIONES
- (in Spanish) Proyecto de Ley “Por medio de la cual se reforma la ley 1098 de 2006 en relación con la medida de protección de la adopción y se dictan otras disposiciones”
- (in Spanish) Hay cuatro proyectos para reglamentar la unión homosexual en el país
- (in Spanish) "Matrimonio gay" empieza a ser tramitado en Senado
- Eduardo Garcia and Carlos Vargas (24 April 2013). "Colombia lawmakers reject controversial gay marriage bill". Reuters.
- "Gay marriage bill passes first hurdle - Colombia Politics". Colombia Politics.
- (in Spanish) Por primera vez una comisión del Congreso aprueba el matrimonio gay
- "Colombia Senate rejects gay marriage bill". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.
- (in Spanish) Matrimonio igualitario se hunde en Senado
- (in Spanish) El Espectador. Notarios no podrán argumentar objeción de conciencia en uniones homosexuales. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- (in Spanish) Notarios alistan contrato para la formalización de matrimonios gay
- "Colombia's notaries draft legal document for same-sex civil unions".
- (in Spanish) Homosexuales rechazan unión solemne en notarías y juzgados. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
- (in Spanish) Parejas gay acuden a juzgados para pedir que sean unidas en matrimonio. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
- (in Spanish) Juez aplica norma del matrimonio civil a pareja gay y cita a contrayentes con dos testigos. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
- "Carlos y Gonzalo, la primera pareja gay "civilmente casada", pero sin matrimonio" (in Spanish). RCN Radio. 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- Andrew Potts (2013-10-01). "Judges allow first same-sex marriages in Colombia". Gay Star News. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- "Rechazan tutela que tumbaba primer matrimonio gay en el país". Eltiempo.Com. 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- "CM& la noticia".
- (in Spanish) El ‘viacrucis’ del matrimonio gay
- (in Spanish) Corte Constitucional iniciará discusión que anula matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo
- (in Spanish) Colombia: en unos 30 días se conocerá fallo matrimonio gay
- "Colombian Government Expresses Support for Gay Marriage". The New Indian Express. 15 May 2015.
- (in Spanish) Radican proyectos sobre matrimonio igualitario, adopción gay y eutanasia
- (in Spanish) POR LA CUAL SE ESTABLECE LA INSTITUCIÒN DEL MATRIMONIO PARA PAREJAS DEL MISMO SEXO, SE MODIFICA EL CODIGO CIVIL Y SE DICTAN OTRAS DISPOSICIONES
- (in Spanish) Proyecto de ley "Por la cual se establece la institución del matrimonio para parejas del mismo sexo, se modifica el Código Civil y se dictan otras disposiciones"
- (in Spanish) Congreso inicia esta semana debate del proyecto sobre matrimonios gay
- "Registran en Colombia el primer matrimonio de pareja del mismo sexo celebrado en el exterior". RCN Radio.
- Lavers, Michael K. (7 April 2016). "Colombia high court rules in favor of same-sex marriage". Washington Blade. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- "Colombia Legalizes Gay Marriage, Huge Victory for LGBTI Rights". TeleSUR. 7 April 2016. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- "Comunicado 7 de Abril de 2016" (PDF). Constitutional Court (in Spanish). 7 April 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- "Las claves para entender la histórica decisión sobre el matrimonio gay". El Tiempo (in Spanish). 7 April 2016. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- Brodzinsky, Sibylla (April 8, 2016). "Colombia's highest court paves way for marriage equality in surprise ruling". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- "Corte Constitucional aplaza el fallo sobre matrimonio igualitario". El Heraldo. 21 April 2016.
- "Colombia legalizes same-sex marriage". Deutsche Welle. 28 April 2016.
- "Corte legaliza el matrimonio entre parejas del mismo sexo". W Radio. 28 April 2016.
- "Colombia legalises same-sex marriage". BBC News. 28 April 2016.
- "Listo el formato para el matrimonio de parejas homosexuales en notarias". Caracol Radio. 28 April 2016.
- (in Spanish) Sentencia SU214/16
- "Meet the First Same-Sex Couple Married in Colombia". Advocate. 25 May 2016. Archived from the original on 31 May 2016.
- (in Spanish) Corte Constitucional rechazó petición para tumbar el matrimonio igualitario
- Colombian High Court Rejects Appeal To Null Same-Sex Marriage
- (in Spanish) Luego de aprobado el matrimonio gay, solo se han registrado 47 de estas uniones en el país
- (in Spanish) En 2016 se casaron 117 parejas del mismo sexo en el país
- (in Spanish) Los habitantes de Bogotá aprueban el matrimonio homosexual, según encuesta
- "Jóvenes rechazan legalización de drogas, aborto y matrimonio gay". 28 November 2012.
- "Social Attitudes on Moral Issues in Latin America - Pew Research Center". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 13 November 2014.
- "Appendix A: Methodology". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 13 November 2014.
- "Gallup: El matrimonio civil entre parejas homosexuales" (in Spanish). Scribd. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
- "Sentencia SU214/16". Constitutional Court of Colombia (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 July 2016.