Colombia paves way for same-sex marriage

Colombia’s highest court is laying the foundation for marriage equality in the conservative Roman Catholic nation.

Same-sex couples in the country are currently permitted to form civil unions, with many benefits of marriage including inheritance, pensions and health benefits.

However, the right to marry has so far been denied.

This may be due to change, after the Constitutional Court took a giant step in settling the controversy surrounding the subject.

On Thursday, the court rejected a justice’s opinion that would have prevented public notaries from registering marriages instead of civil unions.

In the next few weeks, a new ruling is expected to be approved, making same-sex marriage legal.

The majority of the country approve the law and see current legislation as discriminatory, although the ruling faces stiff opposition from anti-gay Catholic groups.

“Love triumphed,” said 25-year-old David Alonso, one of many LGBT activists who gathered outside the court to celebrate the ruling.

“This is a historical debt that is finally being settled.”

The ruling was also celebrated by campaigners including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

“Today’s ruling by Colombia’s Constitutional Court marks an important moment for LGBT Colombians, and we congratulate the country’s many LGBT advocates who helped make this day possible,” said Jean Freedberg, Deputy Director of HRC Global.

President Juan Manuel Santos’ government echoed activists by reaffirming its support of marriage equality, taking on opposition from the powerful Catholic church and the country’s independent Inspector General.

“Today we’ve won our constitutional rights, now we need to fight on the streets and inside people’s homes,” a statement for the government read.

The court in November lifted a ban on same-sex couples adopting children.

Earlier this year, Colombia also adopted a new gender recognition law – that allows trans people to gain legal recognition without undergoing surgery or seeing a psychiatrist.