Colombia’s Constitutional Court voted in favor of legal marriage equality today, in a 6-3 decision, reports Spanish-language Colombian LGBT media outlet EgoCity. The ruling takes effect immediately, meaning same-sex couples can now marry throughout the South American nation.
The decision was not wholly unexpected, as the court had long been considering a case filed by four same-sex couples who argued that the state was required to provide equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
In 2011, the Constitutional Court ordered the national congress to create a law establishing marriage equality by June 20, 2013. Lawmakers failed to meet this deadline, which means same-sex couples in Colombia have technically been able to legally recognize their relationships since 2013, though to do so couples were required to seek out a notary or judge to formally solemnize their commitment. Because there was no definitive policy regulating these unions, many same-sex couples were turned away by judges and notaries. Four such couples filed the lawsuit that was decided today, which determines that no judge or notary can legally refuse to marry a same-sex couple.
Colombia becomes only the fourth Latin American nation to fully embrace marriage equality. Same-sex couples have been able to wed in Argentina since 2010, and in Brazil and Uruguay since 2013. Several Mexican states have embraced marriage equality — beginning with Mexico City in 2010 — and that country’s high court has ruled those marriages must be recognized nationwide.
Moments after the court’s decision was made public, equality advocates gathered outside the Palace of Justice, which houses the court, in Bogotá. Wearing rainbow flags and carry pro-equality signs, demonstrators chanted “Iguales en impuestos, iguales en derechos,” according to video (below) from Colombian newspaper El Espectador. The chant translates to: “Equal in taxes, equal in rights!”
The Human Rights Campaign celebrated today’s ruling in a statement attributed to Jean Freedberg, deputy director of HRC Global:
“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. Following victories for LGBT advocates in Ireland in May and in the United States in June, today’s ruling makes clear that global momentum for marriage equality has continued to grow, and we’re hopeful that other nations will provide same-sex couples the right to marry the person they love in the year ahead.”