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| 7/26/2011 12:00:00 PM

If the court says yes

¿Why Colombia should be the country number 13 in the world to recognize gay marriage?

This week the Constitutional Court will decide if homosexual couples have the right to marry. If they approved it Colombia will become the thirteenth country in the world to end discrimination against gay marriage. Otherwise, the Article 113 of the Civil Code will remain in force, since 1887 it states that marriage "is a contract by which a man and a woman join to live together, procreate and help each other", definition that the conservative sectors of the country, leaded by Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez (and some judges of the highest court), believe that it should not be changed. But that definition is 124 years old and belongs to a country and a world gone by. So the best thing that can happen is that the Court says yes to the gay community.

The Court examines a lawsuit filed last November at the request of Colombia Diversa, the NGO that defends the rights of the LGBT community, and the Center for Law, Justice and Society (DeJusticia), which calls for a change of the article. This is the second lawsuit, last November, with the positive dissertation of Main Judge Maria Victoria Calle, Court decided to abstain, but the plaintiffs insisted. This time the dissertation of Main Judge Gabriel Mendoza is negative. The decision of the nine Main Judges will be taken on July 26th. It is known that three of them are against and four in favor, so the vote of one of the remaining two judges, Humberto Sierra or Mauricio González, will be decisive.


With the LGBT rights it has happen the same thing that with other fundamental rights in Colombia: the Constitutional Court, through their judgments, and not Congress, with its laws, is the one that has introduced them in the society, although in this case, only very recently. With discrimination and almost medieval ostracism, homosexuals came to enjoy, thanks to four decisions of the Constitutional Court, issued between 2007 and 2009, the right to stop being discriminated in important areas. Now, the people can afiliate their partner to the contributory scheme for health and special scheme for health and pensions of the Armed Forces. The partner is entitled to survivor's pension, to acquire the Colombian nationality, and even take up residence in San Andres and Providencia if eligible. At the same time, the members of the couple are imputable for crimes such as food absence, the misappropriation of family funds or domestic violence. They are entitled, like any couple, to not incriminate their partner in criminal matters, to the establishment of truth, justice and reparation, and protection measures when your partner is the victim of heinous crimes.

Consecrate gay marriage is the missing step. Homosexual couples have purchased several of the rights that their straight counterparts have, married or living together, but not given full legal status as marriage or cohabitation. Having the legal status irks conservatives, who see any progresson in certain issues -abortion, rights of minorities- as a threat to tradition. But that homosexuals can marry, is not an attack against the family. The other way around, allows many gay couples which are part of society, to be constituted as legal families.

Doing so, would put Colombia in advance-guard. There are 12 nations that recognize the marriage or cohabitation of homosexuals, eight states of United States and the capital of Mexico. Among them are names you would expect, such as Holland, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Sweden or Norway, but aswell some residents of the neighborhood, such as Ecuador, Uruguay (whose constitutions give the union made the same status as marriage) and Argentina. If the Constitutional Court says yes to gay community it would make of Colombia a more modern and inclusive country.
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