Monday, June 18, 2007

Columbia Gives Gay Couples Same Rights as Marriage

Colombia Gives Gay Couples Same Rights As Marriage
by 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 married couples.

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.

© 2007

No comments: