Colombia Gives Gay Couples Same Rights As
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 15, 2007 - 4:30 pm ET
(Bogota) Colombia's Congress has passed
legislation giving same-sex couples most of the same rights as opposite-sex
President Alvaro Uribe has said he will sign the
bill into law.
Under the legislation same-sex couples would have
to register as partners. They would have to have lived together for more
than two years and be of legal age.
In return they will receive the same social
security and inheritance rights as married couples.
Supporters of the bill had tried four times since
1999 to pass the legislation, but each time it failed after opposition from the
Roman Catholic Church.
Its success this time is attributed to a February
Constitutional Court ruling that gay and lesbian couples must have the same
property rights as opposite-sex couples.
The court struck down the definition of
cohabitating couples as "men and women" in a 1990 law that allowed
unmarried couples property rights including joint ownership of land and rights
when one partner died.
The court said the law must be gender neutral.
Under the law same-sex couples who wanted to
share their property had had to create a business, put the property in the
company name, and list the domestic partners as joint shareholders in the
company. But, even that did not always guarantee that in the case of death
of one of the partners the shared possessions would go to the surviving one.
In its ruling the court carefully noted the
decision did not automatically permit civil unions. That issue it said was
up to the Congress. But the ruling clearing indicated for the first time
that the court favored gull recognition of same-sex relationships.
"This makes Colombia a more democratic, more
open place," LGBT activist Virgilio Barco told the Reuters news service.
"It marks the first time that legislation
like this has passed at a national level in Latin America," Barco said.