Colombia’s Constitutional Court has held several hearings on whether Civil Registries and notaries should recognize “solemn unions” as marriages since a case was brought before them in 2013. The issue stems from a previous Court ruling allowing same-sex partners legal recognition through a judge or notary, but never specifying if the couples could be deemed as spouses. On Thursday, the Court will hold another hearing.
A 2011 Court ruling stated that same-sex couples constituted a family and shall obtain contracts with the same rights as marriage if Congress fails to pass a law within two years. As Congress did not pass any law by 2013, the Court’s ruling gave gay couples legal recognition on par with heterosexual marriages via “solemn unions”. After several civil court judges began using the ruling’s vague language to register couples as spouses, the Inspector General argued that all same-sex marriages must be annulled and brought the marriage issue before the Constitutional Court.
The Court will once again convene next week and the media has speculated that the votes are there to guarantee gay couples the right to marry. The public will have to wait and see whether a verdict is revealed that day.
LGBT in the country have made great strides through the Court system in recent years, such as making Colombia one of the places to enjoy full adoption rights before the right to marry, and having one of the simplest forms of changing legal gender in the world.
Over the years, several gay marriage bills have not succeeded in Congress, though the Government has announced its support. The effort to stop gay Colombians from marrying is being spearheaded by the Inspector General who insists that any changes to Colombian marriage laws must come from the Legislature.
A conservative Court Justice agrees with the Inspector General and has written an opinion that same-sex couples may only marry if Congress changes the law. The Court’s plenary must now vote on whether to uphold his opinion or counteract it. If the Court rules for gay couples then Colombia will become the fifth South American nation with same-sex marriage.
For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Colombia, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Colombia