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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages, civil unions, etc.

Activities in Colombia leading to the
recognition of same-sex relationships

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Activities in Colombia:

Colombia is a state in the North West corner of South America. It is to the East of Venezuela, North East of Brazil and North of Peru. Its population is expected to exceed 50 million by 2015. It has no state church, although about 81% of the population are at least nominally Roman Catholic. Some recent developments that may lead to marriage equality are:

  • 2009-JAN-29: Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples can be recognized as "uniones de hecho" (de facto unions, similar to common-law marriages in Canada and in some U.S. states) after having lived together for two years. This form of recognition was previously only available to Colombia's opposite-sex couples. If the couples wish, they must be able to have their union registered before a notary or judge.

  • 2010-JAN: A public opinion survey found that 63% of adults in Bogota, the capital city, favored marriage equality while 36% opposed it. 1

  • 2011-JUL-26: Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that any loving, committed same-sex couple constitutes a family. In doing so, the court ignored the requests of several Churches who wanted such couples recognized only as "legal strangers" -- as roommates -- without benefits and protections for themselves and their children -- advantages that are enjoyed by opposite-sex couples in de facto unions or marriages. The court ruled that there is a "deficit of legal protection" for such couples under current law. They ordered the Colombian Congress to eliminate that deficit by 2013-JUN-20. If they fail to do this, then same-sex couples will be able to formalize their relationships before a notary couple even without the law having been passed.

    The Colombian Constitution and the American Convention on Human Rights signed by Colombia both require that people be treated equally before the law.

The Towleroad web site comments:

To allow marriage equality is to reconcile the marriage and equality clauses [of the Constitution]; to prohibit same-sex marriage is to ignore the equality clause altogether and to invent an intention for the family clause that never existed. 2

Diana Guzman, a lawyer for a Colombian LGBT equality group said:

"We would've preferred for the court -- as guarantor of rights of minorities and in particular guarantor of equality -- would have itself extended marriage to same-sex couples. Nonetheless, we think this ruling is a step forward." 3

  • 2012-NOV-04: With a vote of 10 to 5, a Senate committee passed a bill to legalize SSM in the country. Senator Armando Benedetti, of the ruling Social Party of National Unity said:

    ‘The marriage of couples of same-sex couples is a clear manifestation of respect and non-discrimination of groups that have been permanently marginalized. With this initiative we seek to bridge the gap of inequality and respect the provisions of the constitution and the rulings of the constitutional court."

Conservative party spokesman, Senator Hernán Andrade apparently believes that elementary civil rights, such as the right to marry, must be first subject to majority approval. He called for a national referendum on SSM before it is approved. He said:

"We must think about legislating [SSM, because only] 26% [of the public] ... is in agreement with these issues, while the majority have to keep silent. This is the dictatorship of the minority." 4

The source of his datum is unknown,

This is not a novel situation in civil rights conflicts. In the U.S., there have been two main occasions when marriage was redefined to let groups marry who had historically been discriminated against. These were: in the 19th century when African Americans were allowed to marry other African Americans, and in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage. In both cases, the majority of Americans opposed such marriages at the time. In both cases, a substantial majority of Americans support these decisions today.

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  • 2012-NOV-22: At a discussion of the SSM bill in Congress, Senator Roberto Gerlein said that sex between men is:

    "... dirty, repulsive. It is sex that deserves condemnation and is excremental sex. ... The homosexual has a smaller hypothalamus (a portion of the brain). It is a condition that comes imprinted in the biology of the homosexual. He has no way to remove it. He can visit all the psychiatrists and will still have no way to take it out. It is bad luck that nature imposes this burden on someone, because being homosexual is a burden. 5

In the second part of his statement, he is supporting the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church who teach that having a homosexual orientation is not a choice, and that it is a burden for many gays and lesbians.

He also said that lesbian sex is "inane" -- presumably because it cannot cause conception.

  • 2012-NOV-04: Senator Edgar Espíndola of the conservative National Integration Party said:

    "Today in the world there are many countries where bestiality is practically a sexual preference for some, or necrophilia, or pedophilia. ... We can’t copy those models." 6

He appears to be saying that if the people of Colombia accept what he calls "modernism" and allow loving, committed same-sex couples to marry, that the result will be a drastic increase in adult humans having sex with animals, with other humans who have died, or with children. We are not aware of any evidence of a linkage between same-sex marriage and these paraphilias.

  • 2013-MAR-08: The Colombian Constitutional Court responded to an earlier brief filed by the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General had disagreed with the court's ruling that same-sex couples had a right to their partner's survivor pensions. The court reiterated its support for marriage equality. On MAR_08, the Court said that:

    "Survivor pension protection extends to life partners of the same sex."

The court also urged the Congress to pass: "comprehensive, systematic and orderly legislation" before JUN-20 that would provide more rights to LGBT couples. The Court's web site stated that:

"The ruling held that the phrase ’man and woman’ in the definition of marriage is in conformity with the Colombian Constitution, but the justices were of the view that such a phrase does not imply a prohibition against a legal bond between homosexuals, similar or equal to that of the heterosexual couples." 1

  • 2013-APR-17: The Colombian Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill to recognize same-sex relationships.

It is unclear from the reporting by the media on this topic whether the Constitutional Court would accept a system of civil unions that would grant same-sex couples all the rights, advantages, benefits, and protections of marriage except what is often to couples the most important right of all -- the right to call their relationship a marriage. Wherever civil unions have been tried in the U,S, such separate and equal arrangements have proven to be separate but very unequal.

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References used: 

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jason St. Amand, "Colombian High Court Stands Firm On Gay Rights Support," Edge of the Net, 2013-MAR-13, at:
  2. "Colombian Senate to vote on marriage equality today," Towleroad, 2013-APR-17, at:
  3. Dann Littauer, "Gay marriage bill passes first vote in Colombia," GayStarNews, 2012-DEC-05, at:
  4. Scott Roberts, "Colombian politician says gay sex is ‘dirty and repulsive’," Pink News, 2012-NOV-22, at:
  5. "Colombian senator: Same-sex marriage would lead to bestiality or necrophilia," Pink News, 2012-DEC-06, at:
  6. Matthew Jenkin, "Colombian senator likens gay marriage to bestiality and necrophilia," GayStarNews, 2012-DEC-06, at:

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Site navigation: Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > here

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Copyright © 2002 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-SEP-24
Latest update: 2013-APR-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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