After nine hours of debate, Colombia’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for same-sex couples to legally adopt children.
Last year, the court authorized adoption rights for gay couples in which one member is a biological parent. But this time, the court voted 6-2 to change three clauses in the law that protects infants and adolescents, ruling that all minors have a right to some type of family.
Everyone is now equal when it comes to initiating adoption papers”
Rights activist Marcela Sánchez
President Juan Manuel Santos’ government and various NGOs have supported the new changes. But the Catholic Church, which wields considerable influence throughout mostly conservative Colombia, had come out against the measure days before the court heard arguments.
“It could stop all the government’s bills and projects related to protecting [infants and adolescents],” said Pedro Mercado, a priest who serves as secretary for state relations at Colombia’s Episcopal Conference.
Marcela Sánchez, director of the NGO Diverse Colombia – the country’s biggest LGTB rights defender – called it “a historic step.”
“As of now, homosexuality is irrelevant and everyone is equal when it comes to initiating adoption papers,” Sánchez said.
Germán Humberto Rincón Perfetti, lawyer for a lesbian couple who won last year’s court case to legally adopt one of the woman’s biological daughters, said it was “constitutionally absurd” for anti-rights activists to propose presenting the issue for a public vote.
“If this were to happen, the majority would trample over a minority in a blow against democracy,” he said.
Colombia now joins its Latin American neighbors Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil, which have similar same-sex adoption laws.
The gay community in Colombia has made small steps in recent years for civil protection, such as inheritance and health rights and sharing their partners’ pensions.
Same-sex couples can formalize their unions before a public notary but there is no national law that obligates these officials to accept their registration, and many don’t.
A bill legalizing same-sex marriage is now before Congress.
English version by Martin Delfín.