Thursday, April 14, 2016

Colombian High Court Continues Push to Expand Gay Rights

Thus far Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay were the only three Latin American states to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Colombia could soon be added to that list depending on the actions of the country’s Constitutional Court (CC).

According to reports from the Colombian press, CC judge Alberto Rojas Ríos is planning to introduce for debate a project that would recognize same sex marriages. The measure would also reaffirm an April 7th high court decision stating that marriage doesn’t apply exclusively to unions between men and women, and established a path that would allow Congress to legalize same sex marriage.

Rojas’ project argues that the decision last week is constitutional and based on a 2011 CC edict recognizing homosexual couples as a family and ordered the legislature to create rules to ensure the non-discrimination of civil unions for gay and heterosexual couples. Congress failed to do so, however, which led to confusion starting in 2013 among public notaries designating civil unions as marriages or refusing to do so.

One of the main points for debate in the plan by Rojas is interpreting marriage, be it by couples of the same or different sex, as “fundamental right” based on the constitution allowing for the right to create a family. Doing so would not only grant greater leeway for Congress to reform marriage laws but also recognize marriage as beyond the religious framework exclusively as a method to facilitate procreation.

Additionally, the project would contend that the CC must guarantee the basic rights of gay Colombians taking into account twenty-one legislative bills on the subject of same-sex marriage. The document would also support gay marriage based on the continued jurisprudence by the high court in favor of protecting the rights of minority groups.

In the historic high court ruling last week, Rojas highlighted “All human beings ... have the fundamental right to be married with no discrimination.” LGBT rights activists also lauded the decision though acknowledged that obstacles remain in order for gay marriage to be officially legalized. Nevertheless, court rulings since 2011 have helped advance gay rights including a move last year allowing homosexual couples to adopt.

Unsurprisingly, conservative campaigners against same-sex marriage and Catholic Church officials blasted the decision. Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez accused the high court of “threatening the country’s traditions”, while Colombian Catholic diocese chief José Daniel Falla Robles claimed the constitution only allows for marriage between heterosexual pairs.

Gay marriage is a divisive topic in many countries worldwide and deeply religious Colombia is not an exception. A May 2015 poll showed 62% of Colombians opposed to same-sex marriage, which is a 16% decline compared to 2013. Meanwhile, some legislators last month have tried to rollback the CC’s actions regarding gay couples adopting:
A petition signed by over 2 million Colombians against same sex couples adopting children, was presented to Congress on Tuesday in an attempt to rewind legislation allowing gay couples to adopt…

“Studies in more than 13 countries say that children who grow up in more stable homes where there is a man and a woman do better in school, are less likely to fall into alcoholism, into drug addiction, and are at less risk of teen pregnancy and juvenile delinquency”, (petition sponsor Sen. Viviane Morales) says…

(LGBT rights activist Elizabeth) Castillo says dispelled the claims and believes that the initiative has no future.

“With the initiative they want to limit the rights of the homosexual population. We can already adopt, can form a family. If it were to be processed in Congress, the Constitutional Court will not accept the initiative because it is contrary to all principles of sexual diversity.”
YouTube Source – AJ+

Online Sources (English) - ABC News, The Guardian, Colombia Reports

Online Sources (Spanish) – Caracol Radio, El Tiempo, El Espectador, RCN Radio

No comments: