Colombian Gay Couples Unsure About Legal Rights After Court’s June 20 Deadline

In 2011, the Colombia Constitutional Court ruled that the nation's congress had to provide full legal recognition of same-sex couples by June 20, 2013.

However, the Congress rejected gay marriage legislation in April. And now that the June 20 deadline has passed without any legislation prescribing to how proceed, Colombian gay couples are confused about how to go about securing legal recognition of their relationships.

The Washington Blade reports:

ColumbiaIt remains unclear whether gays and lesbians can actually tie the knot in Colombia because the court’s ruling did not contain the word “marriage.” The judges instead said same-sex couples could go before a notary or a judge to “formalize and solemnize their contractual link.”

The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo on Thursday reported that Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre Lynett said notaries and judges are free to interpret the court’s decision because there is no law that specifically addresses the issue of relationship recognition. Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez Maldonado and other Colombian officials have said the 2011 ruling did not extend the possibility of marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Some notaries had said before the June 20 deadline that they would not marry same-sex couples, but rather allow them to enter into a “solemn contract” that is similar to an agreement into which two people enter when they buy a house together.

The article goes on to quote Colombian LGBT advocate Wilson Castañeda Castro as rejecting "solemn contracts" and demanding nothing less than marriage from judges and notaries.


  1. Jere says

    Perhaps someone with more expertise can explain, but I do not understand how the Supreme Court in Columbia can order something to be done and the legislature not follow through? What is the point of the court if another branch of government can simply ignore the ruling? Also, the ruling from the court provides perfect cover for legislators who either don’t care or who believe in equality, but are scared of their constituents or church. So what’s the problem? And what does the winning side in the court case do next?

  2. Andrés Duque says

    Congressmembers who voted against marriage equality in April now argue that they did as the Constitutional Court said and took action on the issue by voting ‘no’ on the issue (completely disregarding the fact that the Court ordered them to legislate equal rights for same-sex partners whether the norm was called “marriage” or something else but did not give them room to evade responsibility by voting ‘no’ which is exactly what they did).

    To observers, this is a direct contradiction which is why this will end up back in the Constitutional Court sooner than later. In their 2011 ruling the Constitutional Court shied away from calling it civil marriage. With same-sex couples asking for nothing less than marriage, the Court will have to cross that bridge when it lands on their desk.

    Also, justices serve terms in the Constitutional Court and the current court is not as progressive as the 2011 court. There is the risk that by taking the issue back to the court, they will restrict the previous court’s interpretation.