Gay Colombia News & Reports 2001-10

Gay Columbia web sites:
Quia Gay Colombia

Poor Bu Hhappy
Miss Colombia Gay Medellin

Most of the LGBT clubs and bars in Bogotá are in the Chapinero area, including the only LGBT Community Center in the country, which opened in September 2006, and is sponsored by the Office of the Mayor of Bogotá.
Best clubs:
Theatron: Located in Bogotá, is considered the largest gay nightclub;
Medellín nightclubs: Feathers, Splash
In Barranquilla Studio 54 and Sky bar among others

1 Homosexual Partnership Rights Recognized 11/01

2 Editorial: The right to be "gay" 11/01

3 Out of the Closet 11/01

4 Congress Says Gay Issues Must Wait 1/02

5 Colombia: Landmark Victory In Marta Alvarez Case 11/02

6 Rights for Colombia gay couples 2/07

7 Gay rights grow in Colombia 4/07

8 Colombia set to introduce national gay rights 6/07

9 Colombia Senate rejects gay rights measure 6/07

9a Gay Pride in Latin America 7/07

10 Gay rights law rejected 7/07

11 Persecution still runs deep 8/07

12 Colombia: Court Extends Benefits to Gay Couples 10/07

13 El plan: Bogotá Open Mind. El valor: Desde US $800 1/08

14 The green light to same-sex partner pensions 4/08

15 Fuera de clase por preferir su mismo sexo 4/08

16 lesbian students are heckled by student body, school principal 4/08

17 "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity" Resolution approved1/09

18 Colombia Establishes Equality For Gay Couples 1/09

19 An Interview with Marcela Sánchez of Colombia Diversa 2/09

20 Increased rights for Colombian same-sex partners "not automatic" 3/09

21 Colombia: Protest the Murder of LGBT Human Rights Defender 3/09

22 Court says gay man has right to equal share of property in separation from partner 8/10

23 Sixty-Three Percent Of Bogota Residents Support Gay Marriage 8/10

24 Colombia’s High Court Rejects Gay Marriage Challenge 11/10

November 22, 2001 – El Tiempo

Homosexual Partnership Rights Recognized

(English translation by Andres Duque,
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia – The First Commission of the Senate agreed that the unions made by couples of the same gender will be recognized and protected by the nation, which will give them access to social security, the right to mutual nourishment and to merge their patrimonial belongings.

The project was approved by a vote of nine to one (that of Vivianne Morales), and it was accorded that permanent homosexual partners that decide to merge their patrimonies will have to draft a public statement. The senators clearly indicated that "the members of that type of partnerships will have the obligation to provide nutritional support for each other and social security." It was also accorded that ‘same sex partnerships’ will be recognized as long as they are made up of stable and free unions between two adult persons that have lived together for at least two years and that have registered their partnership.

Six articles were withdrawn from the original draft of the project presented by Senator Piedad Cordoba including one that asked for the elimination of all content that was found to be sexually discriminatory from scholastic texts and programs and another that would have criminalized discrimination [against gays] with sentences of one to three years. Nevertheless, Colombia still has a great deal to do to reach the same levels of tolerance of countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, the provinces of Catalonia and Aragon in Spain, and the state of Vermont in the United States, where partners of the same sex are afforded an absolute legal recognition.

In Colombia, despite the advances, there is strong opposition to the approval of projects of law such as the civil union between partners of the same sex.

Yesterday, the presidential candidate Luis Eduardo Garzón said that although "the Constitution does not allow homosexual unions, in terms of the freedom of each human being to choose his sex, this seems absolutely valid to me." The liberal party candidate Horacio Serpa assured that he was not against the debate and study of the project of the Senate. The independent candidate Noemí Sanín was emphatic: "Of course that homosexuals must have the same civil and patrimonial rights," she said. "It is not easy to be gay in this country.

Our culture is constructed on ‘machista’ attitudes in which the man has been considered superior," says Mariano, a young person who feels proud of being a man, but who feels attracted to people of his gender. To the director of the ‘Acentó’ magazine, who asked that his name not be published, it feels "ridiculous that, when everyone is trying to fight marriage as an institution, we are trying to fight for it. Us gays have not been able to rid ourselves of paradigms created by other cultures."

November 26, 2001 – El Tiempo

Editorial: The right to be "gay"

Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia – (English translation by Andres Duque, )
As long as the law does not recognize their partnerships as equal, homosexuals will continue to be officially discriminated. The project of law to give legal recognition to homosexual partnerships presented by Senator Piedad Cordoba and approved in the first round of Senate debate, reflects a reality that should be accompanied by a legal framework to provide real guarantees and safety. The fundamental problem is not in the law; it is not even in the Victorian opinions that some authorities continue to use as arguments.

It is in the Constitution. There are still three debates left – and an electoral campaign – before the project can become law. If approved, it will give same sex partners that register before a notary the right to create a patrimonial society, the obligation to provide mutual nourishment and access to social security benefits. Although several important points were eliminated, including criminalizing the discrimination against homosexuals and giving them the right to inherit from their partners, this law would make Colombia one among a dozen of nations where the rights of homosexuals are protected by law.

There are more than a few instances in which after a homosexual couple have shared most of their lives, one of them dies, and the deceased partner’s family – who repudiated that same person while alive – throw themselves like hyenas at what the person left behind, having no moral or emotional rights to the belongings but all the legal rights to claim them. As many prejudices as are held against homosexuals, this is an unjust situation. There are reports that in zones controlled by paramilitary and guerrilla forces, homosexuals are forced to leave or are harshly persecuted. But armed groups are not the only ones that act against them. Under the antiquated morality that reigns among important levels in our society, they are tolerated as long as they remain hidden, but when they come out, they are discriminated without a second thought.

Blinding ourselves to the reality represented by nearly two million homosexuals is akin to covering the sun with our hands. Even if each person as an individual can think whatever regarding homosexuality, in a modern democratic nation the law has the obligation to protect their rights. Even more so if we are dealing with a minority that in Colombia’s case – where ‘machismo’ and ‘pacatería’ still prevail in our society – still lives under unacceptable levels of discrimination. This is why Senator Cordoba’s project aims to address an oversight that has gone on for many years. The Constitution of 1991 was the one who chose to hide its head as if it were an ostrich, perhaps under the influence of the false moralities surrounding this issue. Despite the fact that Article 13 considers all Colombians to be free and equal, Article 15 protects their right to privacy and Article 16 provides for the freedom to develop one’s personality, Article 42 affirms that a family is constituted by a couple who are "a man and a woman."

If the pair is of the same gender, they are neither considered a couple nor family. Consequently, neither they nor their rights as such exist legally. Fears about the integrity of the traditional family are understandable. But not even the most vociferous critics can explain how granting legal rights to homosexual couples can affect the heterosexual family. Even the Catholic Church, in the midst of the debate on this project, accepted the idea that they can form limited societies that can be registered before a notary.

The real debate is whether the nation should or should not protect the rights of minorities that are discriminated by society. That there are those who think that to be a homosexual is a perversion, it is known and it happens. But for a nation – in charge of providing equal protections to all its citizens – to see it in the same way is unforgivable. The Constitution can dictate that all Colombians are free and equal under the law. But as long as it does not extend that equality to homosexual couples, it will be in fact sponsoring the same discrimination it condemns in written words.

November 27, 2001 – Semana

Out of the Closet

Bogotá, Colombia – (English translation by Andres Duque )
A majority vote in the Senate gives the possibility that the nation will recognize homosexual partners. Last week a decision made by the First Commission of the Senate made the two million homosexuals estimated to live in the country very happy and put frowns on the faces of the leadership of the Catholic Church and the Justice Minister.
On November 21st, nine senators voted in favor of a project of law that would recognize homosexual couples as such by the State. This would extend the same rights enjoyed by heterosexuals in regard to their social security and patrimony benefits. For example, in the event of the death of one of the members of a registered gay partnership, the partner would have the possibility to inherit the belongings and the pension benefits.

This project was drafted by the liberal party senator Piedad Cordoba, with the support of organizations that defend sexual diversity and presented before the Commission by the independent senator Jesus Enrique Piñacué. It also was decisively supported by progressive legislators such as Cecilia Rodriguez from the Oxigen Party and the Liberal Party’s Dario Martinez from Nariño. The resulting vote tally was an event without precedent in this country since until now the rights of homosexuals had only been recognized through sentences made by the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless the debate revealed that there are certain sectors that are reluctant to recognize any type of equality to the members of this group, which they consider to be against nature. For example, Mr. Rómulo González, the Justice Minister, finished his presentation before the Commission by telling an anecdote to illustrate his position. González said that two years ago, during the debates that led to the adoption of the Civil Pact of Solidarity (PAC) in France, which established the rights and obligations that can be shared by two people whether they are of the same gender or not, a congressmember left the site and, while holding his head in both hands, shouted: "In 1920 homosexuality was a crime, now it is legal and in a few years it will be mandatory."

None of the senators from the traditional parties that hold a seat in the Commission ran away in the same manner as their French colleague. But five Conservative Party members did not attend and two from the Liberal Party left before voting. The only vote against the project came from the Liberal Party member Viviane Morales, who argued that Congress could not occupy itself with drafting laws that protect the right of particular groups but instead should guard the way that laws that protect universal rights are applied. It is at least peculiar that this senator was the same one who fought so zealously for the so-called ‘law of quotas,’ which would benefit women in particular, by establishing equal opportunity guarantees to women employed in public posts.

This senate debate forced the country to recognize a reality that it has tried to maintain hidden. "The issue is not that we should be allowed to contract matrimony through the church. That is the least of it. What matters is that an antiquated and myopic part of Colombia accepts that homosexuality is a reality that is older than they have dared to admit," said a gay that assumes his sexuality with pride to SEMANA. This project is the tip of the arrow that will make Colombian legislation move at the same velocity on these issues as other democratic countries. Europeans have set the standard during the last decade on issues related to the human rights of sexual minorities. Holland is in the lead with their legalization of gay marriage. Followed by Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Hungary where the rights of a homosexual couple are recognized.

What is certain is that Colombia is not Europe and that this project has scandalized the most traditional of sectors. Leaders of the Catholic Church were against the proposal. This was their mandate as manifested in a letter dated 1986 written by the Doctrine of Faith Congregation: "To choose to have sexual activity with a member of the same sex is equivalent to eradicating the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the intent, of the Creator’s design in regard to the reality of sexuality. Homosexual activity does not convey a complimentary union able to transmit life and, as such, contradicts the calling to a life lived in this form of self sacrifice that, according to the Gospel, is the key essence of a Christian life."

There are three debates left for the project to be approved by Congress, before having to be sanctioned by the President. The project can be buried in any of these stages. Nevertheless what took place constituted in itself a debate of the highest order on this issue in a country in which ‘machista,’ family, and religious traditions has socially excluded those that opt to be different. For now what is left is to hope and wait that those that write the country’s laws in the name of democracy recognize that homosexuality is not a threat to society. On the contrary, it is one more condition that enriches the diversity and, therefore, the development of society.

January 22, 2002 –

Colombia: Congress Says Gay Issues Must Wait

by Yadira Ferrer
Bogota (IPS) – Colombian homosexuals will have to wait until the next legislative session for lawmakers to vote on legalising same-sex couples, and whether this should give gays inheritance rights and social security benefits. While the spotlight has been focussed on the government and the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who have been to the brink of war and back, and are now engaged in peace talks, other political matters have not disappeared. But some have been postponed – if for unrelated reasons.

Congress decided to leave debate on a homosexual rights bill for the next legislature. If the bill survives the numerous parliamentary hurdles on the way to becoming a law, it would benefit approximately two million homosexual Colombians, half of whom live in stable relationships, according to social researcher José Fernando Serrano.

The legislation, which also covers inheritance rights and prison visit rights, was approved by the First Senate Commission. The full session of Congress is slated to take up the measure during the next legislative session, which begins in March. The text approved by the commission includes just 20 percent of the points proposed in the original bill, presented by Senator Piedad Córdoba, of the opposition Liberal Party. "Despite the cuts made by the commission, the bill came out well. We have to begin little by little to open the political space" for homosexual rights, Manuel José Bermúdez, member of the gay community and a leftist candidate for the Senate in the mid-2002 elections.

Bermúdez explained that the law would provide for the legal registration of same-sex couples, covering the property rights of the two parties as well as social security benefits. Senator Córdoba, also a human rights activist, commented that the bill she proposed responds to the fact that in this country of 40 million people, "in nearly all households there is a homosexual, whether it is a son or daughter, aunt or uncle, or neighbour." However, the legislative initiative has run up against strong opposition, with some politicians referring to gay couples as "pseudo-families". Justice Minister Rómulo González Trujillo objected to the gay rights bill saying it violates Article 42 of the Constitution, which consecrates the family as a heterosexual institution. The Constitutional Court utilised the same argument in rejecting the petitions of homosexuals seeking to adopt children or to register a partner for health insurance benefits.

The court did not recognise these rights because homosexual couples, as such, "are not families" and therefore may not claim the same benefits, according to the ruling. But Eduardo Cifuentes, the People’s Defender (Ombudsman) – a governmental post – interprets the Constitution differently. The law gives legislators the authority to protect the free exercise of minorities’ sexual rights, he explained. Germán Rincón, an attorney specialising in gay rights, said, "by failing to recognise that we, too, can live in stable couples, the justice authorities assume that we live in permanent promiscuity and that we cannot maintain solid relationships."

In 1970, Colombia’s first gay liberation movement began, and a decade later the law that criminalized homosexual acts was annulled. Such punishment, however, remains on the books in at least 70 countries worldwide. The first legal inscription of gay couples by notary’s offices began in 1999, and is now a widespread practice. The Colombian civil war is not outside the scope of the gay rights controversy. Right-wing paramilitaries and leftist guerrillas have forced homosexuals out of the areas under their control stating that gays are enemies of their political values.

Last year, a jury in Pereira, capital of the western department of Risaralda, denied a petition presented by a lesbian in prison who requested a conjugal visit for her partner. The proponents of the gay rights bill wonder why this country, whose laws recognise diversity, equality and basic rights, upholds discrimination based on sexual orientation. "In Colombia, one can be homosexual, but must be quiet about it," said Bermúdez in reference to this double standard. The candidate for Senate says Congress is unlikely to pass a law that allows same-sex legal unions because the debate has entered the moral arena, meaning the Catholic Church could step in and block legislative action on the bill.

"It is a legal debate, not a moral one, which is why the discussion must be taken out of bed, out from between the sheets, and placed among civil rights," Bermúdez said. Nevertheless, he pointed out that the bill came at an opportune moment and has prompted a much-needed debate. The candidate said it was "very positive" that indigenous Senator Jesús Piñacue had become one of the initiative’s leading proponents. Piñacue "is a brother who has been marginalized, and the position he has taken is wonderful. This is a demand for the rights of a group, something he is familiar with because he fights for the rights of indigenous communities," said Bermúdez.

He says that if he wins the elections, he will work to remove the sensationalism surrounding gay issues in the Senate. He is running on the ballot-list of presidential candidate Luis Eduardo Garzón. The three pillars of the Bermúdez campaign are: a negotiated end to the civil war, the search for an economic "third way" that makes globalisation compatible with the Colombian economy, and a political reform to eradicate the institutional system’s vices. "The country will see a homosexual working on serious issues, which will be a major contribution towards changing the image we have.

After working to improve the country, we will focus our efforts on the matters affecting the gay community," he said. Garzón has made the gay rights cause part of his presidential campaign, saying societies that ignore this reality are discriminatory. "Colombia can no longer afford to generate phobias of difference, which have already cost us hundreds of deaths," Garzón said.

November 23, 2002 – International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commisssion

Colombia: Landmark Victory In Marta Alvarez Case

Lesbian Inmate Finally Granted Visitation RightsMarta Alvarez is a lesbian who is in prison in Colombia. Since 1998, she has been fighting to obtain visitation rights for her partner – a right that heterosexual men and women enjoy in Colombian prisons. Her landmark case was brought to the Interamerican Human Rights Commission in 1999. It was the first time that the IHRC agreed to mediate a case involving discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, negotiations between Marta and the Colombian government were difficult and no advancements were ever made.
Marta Alvarez was defended by feminist lawyer Marta Tamayo, a member of the Colombian Women’s Network who fought tirelessly–and, most of the time, pro bono–for this case, which she considered could set an important precedent for lesbian equality in the region.

As punishment for raising her voice, Marta Alvarez was transferred nine times from one jail to another during the last three years. She has also been held in solitary confinement and in men’s pavilions.

Currently she is imprisoned in Caldas, and her partner in Manizales. Two months ago, Marta Tamayo managed to enlist the support of the Ombudsman Office in Manizales and submitted a joint appeal to the local judge, demanding visitation rights for Marta Alvarez and her partner. On November 21, 2002, the judge granted the petition, invoking both women’s rights to equality, privacy and free development of their personalities

If you wish to send a message of congratulations to Marta Alvarez and Marta Tamayo for this landmark victory, please write to:

February 8, 2007 – BBC NEWS

Rights for Colombia gay couples

Homosexual couples in Colombia should have the same property rights as their heterosexual counterparts, the nation’s Constitutional Court has ruled. The decision applies to those who have been living together for two years. A gay rights group, which had sought the clarification from the court, said at least 100,000 couples would benefit. A court source said it did not mean same-sex civil unions – which are part of a bill currently being debated in Congress – had been approved.

‘Great step’
The court said the expression "men and women" used in a 1990 law which gives property rights to de-facto couples was unconstitutional. The head of gay rights group Colombia Diversa, Marcela Sanchez, described the ruling as "a great step". Until now, same-sex couples who wanted to share their property had had to create commercial partnerships to guarantee that in the case of death of one of the partners the shared possessions would go to the surviving one, she said.

"Laws are not enough, an important cultural shift is needed… for discrimination to end," Ms Sanchez added. Wednesday’s ruling was condemned by some lay Catholic groups, which described it as "going against the family and matrimony".

April 26, 2007 –

Gay rights grow in Colombia: Legislation pending to extend benefits to same-sex couples

by Mike Ceaser, Chronicle Foreign Service
Bogota, Colombia – Sebastian Romero had a nasty gash above his lip and several fractured teeth from a pistol-whipping he received by an off-duty police officer who nearly ran down him and his partner, Arturo Sanjuan, in a city park last year. Had he been heterosexual, says Romero, a then-unemployed biologist without health insurance, his partner’s medical plan would have taken care of his subsequent surgery. He and Sanjuan, a university professor, have been together for six years — four more than are required by Colombian law for straight couples involved in a stable relationship to receive benefits.

Because Colombian law at the time didn’t recognize such benefits for same-sex couples, Romero went into debt to pay his hospital expenses. "It’s structural discrimination," the 28-year-old said. "Otherwise, I would have paid 10 percent of my medical bills." Romero, Sanjuan and gay rights leaders expect legislation advancing through Congress to provide same-sex couples not only health benefits but social security and pension rights — legal changes that were unthinkable a decade ago. A Supreme Court ruling in February has already granted same-sex couples who have lived together for more than two years the same inheritance rights as married couples, pushing this traditionally conservative Roman Catholic nation into the forefront of the gay rights movement in Latin America.

"The Colombian Supreme Court’s ruling is a pioneering decision in the region," said Marcelo Ferreyra, Latin America and Caribbean coordinator for the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which until 2003 was headquartered in San Francisco. "Its arguments are very radical, on the vanguard." The Colombian court ruling comes in the wake of other advances for gay rights in the region.

Last year, Mexico City recognized inheritance and some pension rights, while same-sex civil unions are now legal in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. The southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and the Argentine province of Rio Negro have also legalized same-sex civil unions. The Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo allows same-sex couples to adopt children, while Rio de Janeiro grants public employees who are in stable same-sex relationships the same rights as married civil servants. Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, grants same-sex couples the right to enter into civil unions and receive social security and inheritance rights. But Colombia is the first Latin American country to establish same-sex benefits on a national level.

"Colombia recognizes (same-sex) couples, even if it’s only for one right," said Marcela Sanchez, president of Diverse Colombia, a coalition of gay, lesbian and transgender groups. "That sends a message that the state is legitimizing these couples and starts us down the road" to equality. A proposed law before the Lower House that would give same-sex couples pension, health and social security benefits is expected to pass later this year. It has already passed the Senate by a 49-40 vote. President Alvaro Uribe — a close ally of President Bush — says he will sign it into law. Last year, Uribe surprised many voters during his re-election campaign by supporting the benefits legislation. But the conservative politician would apparently veto future gay rights bills. "No to gay marriage, no to adoption," Uribe has said. "Yes to health and pension benefits; yes to social security rights."

Angel Alberto Duque, 53, whose partner of 10 years, Jhon Oscar Jiménez, died of AIDS six years ago, is angry that inheritance benefits for same-sex couples has yet to become law. Like many same-sex couples in Colombia, Duque and Jimenez used subterfuge and deception to purchase an apartment. Jiménez, an official with the national tax agency, asked a female friend to pose as his wife when he and Duque purchased an apartment. After Jimenez died, the "wife" claimed to be the owner of the apartment and, until recently, battled Duque in a lawsuit before losing the case. Jimenez’s family also carried off what they considered to be their son’s belongings, even though the couple had purchased many of the items together. Duque, a part-time waiter who is HIV-positive, is angry that he is not covered by his late partner’s health plan.

"When I get sick … I’ll have to go to a charity hospital and wait for the moment" to die, he said while sitting in his apartment’s tiny living room. Most observers say the root of the Supreme Court ruling and legislation promoting gay rights stems from constitutional reforms in 1991 that ended Catholicism as the official religion and added the right to "free development of the personality." These same observers also point to shifting mores — a 2005 census showed that nearly as many heterosexual couples live together as are married. Yet Colombia is still a conservative nation — especially in the countryside and small cities — and many Colombians harbor negative opinions about gays and lesbians. A recent survey in Bogota by the nongovernmental organization Promoting Citizenship found that 6 in 10 schoolchildren ages 11 to 19 admitted ridiculing classmates they considered gay, and 49 percent of adults said they wouldn’t permit their children to be taught by gay teachers.

"Colombian society continues to be highly conservative," said Lina Medina, a sociologist at the Jesuit-run Javerian University in Bogota. "We are still very far from legitimizing (gay) sexual practices." But few deny that the Supreme Court ruling and Senate vote are landmark decisions, and that the gay rights movement, which didn’t exist a decade ago, is emerging as a powerful political force.

Bogota’s annual gay pride march has blossomed from a few dozen participants a decade ago to hundreds of thousands. Once-routine expulsions of gay high school students have become rarities, according to activists. Most newspapers no longer use lurid headlines to report gay issues. Soap operas include gay characters and even transsexuals. Moreover, Bogota’s Chapinero neighborhood has become Colombia’s equivalent of the Castro district — it has 100 bars, nightclubs, saunas and video stores that cater to gay customers. Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzon has openly championed gay rights, participating in the annual gay pride parade and financing a center that specializes in health, legal and psychological services for gays and lesbians. Despite the recent legal inroads, gay community leaders say they plan to go slowly in their drive for total equality, since they still face strong opposition from the Catholic Church and conservative politicians. "I think a lot of debate will be necessary for marriage rights," said Sanchez of Diverse Colombia.

16th June 2007 – PinkNews

Colombia set to introduce national gay rights

by writer
Colombia’s conservative President Alvaro Uribe has given his backing to the country becoming the first in Latin America to nationally give gay couples full rights to health insurance, inheritance and benefits. The plan was passed by Congress this week. The proposed changes that are opposed by the Catholic Church will give gay couples many of the same rights as heterosexual couples.

"This makes Colombia a more democratic, more open place," said Colombia Diversa activist, Virgilio Barco, son of former Liberal President, Virgilio Barco Vargas. "It marks the first time that legislation like this has passed at a national level in Latin America. While some states, regions and cities in Latin America have passed similar laws, they have never been proposed on a national level. 300,000 gay couples in Colombia are set to benefit. The lower house of Colombia’s Congress passed the bill 62-43. Alfredo Cuello Baute, the president of the lower chamber said: "I hope photos don’t turn up showing some of our colleagues dressed as drag queens on Caracas Avenue."

The change in attitudes over sexuality marks a change for the country long marred by Guerilla conflict. Elizabeth Castillo, a gay rights lawyer said: "This argument was never based on moral or religious grounds, even though the detractors always went to the religious and moral arguments." In February 7, 2007, the Colombian Constitutional Court awarded common-law marriage inheritance rights to same-sex couples. The country did not ever legally ban gay sex. However, there remain risks for gay men in particular in Colombia with frequent attacks.

June 21, 2007 – Spero News

Colombia Senate rejects gay rights measure

by CNA
Colombian Senate rejects bill to make homosexual unions equal to marriage. The measure would have granted financial rights to homosexual couples and make homosexual union equivalent to traditional marriage. Despite having been approved by the House of Representatives, the Colombian Senate definitively rejected a bill that would have granted financial rights to homosexual couples as part of a measure to make homosexual unions equal to marriage. The bill, which would have granted inheritance rights and social security benefits to homosexual couples, failed during an attempt to reconcile the two versions of the bill.

The vote of 34-26 against the bill means it will not be sent to President Alvaro Uribe, who would have had the final word on whether or not to sign the bill into law. Several leftwing senators decided to vote against the measure even though it was sponsored by a pro-homosexual activist, Senator Armando Benedetti. The House of Representatives in Colombia approved its own bill on June 14. However, the Senate version differed in some aspects, which provided pro-family Senators the chance to explain to the public why the bill should not be passed. The measure was promoted by the organization “Diverse Colombia,” which has announced its mission is to achieve full recognition of gay marriage in Colombia.

July 02, 2007 –

Gay Pride in Latin America: Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, El Salvador, Chile & Colombia

You might have seen coverage of pride marches in Spain and Brazil elsewhere so we’ll skip those (just Google both and see what comes up or, better yet, browse for related stories). We have already written about last week’s rally in the Dominican Republic. Here is a look at other pride marches and events in Latin America that took place over the weekend that might have received less attention in these latitudes. Cochabamba, Bolivia: Santa Cruz and the capital city of La Paz might have observed gay pride events in previous years but this year it was the Andean city of Cochabamba to launch their first pride event ever (abuove-right press conference image taken from Los Tiempos).

On Sunday, Los Tiempos reported that the previous day’s gathering at the city’s main plaza was attended by thousands of individuals who "danced with transsexuals, gays and lesbians." "I didn’t know Miss Cochabamba was so tall!" said an older woman as she posed for a photo with the Queen of the Gays, stated the reporter. The paper took note of the visible trans presence and the lack of confrontations or disruptions that have marred pride events in other Bolivian cities.

Guayaquil, Ecuador. El Comercio reports that 300 people showed up for an afternoon of artistic shows at an outdoor plaza on Thursday, June 28th. The event, which began last year, was organized by the Friends for Life Foundation under the theme of "The problem is not homosexuality… The problem is homophobia." The Foundation has posted images of the event over on their blog here and here. Panama City, Panama. The Association of New Men and Women of Panama (AHMN), observed pride by releasing their first ever "Top Ten Most Homophobic Panamanians" list which included television personalities, religious leaders and politicians. At least one of the nominees expressed surprise at being nominated: Critica Libre columnist Julio Cesar Caicedo told the AFP "I am not a homophobe."

San Salvador, El Salvador. EFE reports that hundreds of people, including representatives from half a dozen HIV prevention and gay rights organizations participated in a gay pride march through the streets of San Salvador. Under the theme of "Diversity in Action" well-known gay-right activist William Hernandez stated that there was a lack of funding and institutionalized support for anti-homophobia trainings or campaigns or for HIV prevention campaigns specifically targeting the gay community. Santiago de Chile, Chile. Last week the Chilean arm of Amnesty International said that two leading gay rights organizations, MUMS and MOVILH, had received anonymous threatening messages through the internet in advance of Sunday’s pride fair. In June MOVILH’s website had also been hacked twice also by unknown put self-proclaimed skinheads who posted offensive messages and images instead of the usual content.

Fortunately MOVILH’s portal is back in MOVILH’s hands and they report no incidents of violence at Sunday’s cultural fair which celebrated both LGBT pride as well as the organization’s 16th anniversary. They also have a photo gallery of the day’s proceedings here (if people seem a bit bundled, keep in mind that it’s currently winter down in Chile). La Nacion had perviously reported that, parallel to the day’s events there would also be a second annual "kiss-a-thon" organized by MUMS in a show of support for anti-discrimination legislation.

Bogota, Colombia. Organizers of Bogota’s pride march also denounced internet-based threats from anonymous self-described "skinheads" on the eve of Sunday’s event. Fortunately, the march drew an estimated 10,000 participants despite cold rainy weather and there were no reports of any disruptions or clashes although a group of pro-gay skinheads did participate.

Organizers of the event, led by the Colombian LGBT rights advocacy organization Colombia Diversa, had planned to wear black shirts in protest of last month’s 12th hour defeat of a landmark bill that would have given same-sex couples in Colombia some partnership rights. But on Sunday the black banners and shirts also served as a powerful symbol that the LGBT community in Colombia stood together with the rest of the country in mourning the death of 11 councilmembers who had been held in captivity for five years by the FARC guerilla organization (the FARC say that the kidnapped men died in a confrontation with armed forces while the Colombian government has categorically denied any rescue mission or military activity against the FARC in the area).

In addition to those visible expressions of sadness, Fabian David, a young man who marched along with his boyfriend, noticed another key difference from marches in years past: "The majority of are not wearing masks," he told El Tiempo, "This is because there is a sense of increased comfortability with the issue.

July 20, 2007 – LatinAmericanPress

Gay rights law rejected

Colombia – Colombia’s gay community was outraged after the country’s Senate rejected a bill on June 19 that would give homosexual couples access to social security benefits.The Senate voted 34 against and 26 in favor of the bill, which had been approved five days earlier in the lower house. The initiative was based on a landmark decision in the Constitutional Court earlier this year that gave homosexual couples property rights. On July 1, Gay Pride Day, Bogota’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population marched through the streets in protest. “We pay taxes. Why can’t we enroll our partners in social security?” read a banner from the gay rights group Colombia Diversa.

August 4, 2007 –

Persecution still runs deep

by Travis Lupick
Josué has been living in single­-room accommodation in a cheap hotel on Granville Street for the past five weeks. The carpet is dirty and cut in several places, the paint chips from the walls, and what little food there is in the refrigerator was donated by a local charity. "Sometimes I cry because I really cannot go back to my country," Josué (not his real name) told the Georgia Straight . "I really cannot go back, because I know that they will kill me." Josué has applied for refugee status in Canada. He uses a pseudonym on the advice of his lawyer, Rob Hughes, because his claim remains under review. According to the personal-information file Josué submitted to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada , he is afraid to return to his country of origin because he believes he will be killed for his sexual orientation. Born and raised in Colombia, Josué loved his home there. But Josué is gay. He says he was forced into hiding and to run for his life.

Generally speaking, if you are gay the world is not an easy place to find peace. "There are many, many places where it is very, very dangerous to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered," barbara findlay, a human-rights lawyer, told the Straight . "I got in a lot of trouble with my family because they did not want to have a gay son," Josué said. He moved in with his partner when he was 16 years old, and the two lived together, under various circumstances, for 12 years. "He made me the person that I am now. He made me, he taught me, he showed me the world and life," Josué said.

In Colombia, Josué said, he had an apartment, he ran a small business, and he owned property that he rented for a modest sum. For a time, life was comfortable. Then one day Josué’s brothers came asking for a favour. He said they forced him to use the property he owned as collateral for a loan. The loan was never repaid and Josué lost everything. When he went to the police, the rest of his family turned on him. "My mother told me that she would send somebody to kill me," he said. Josué claimed his family tried to follow through with the threat. As he moved around the country in fear, people followed. They left messages on Josué’s phone and sent e-mails promising to find him and make him pay for being gay.

"What were you thinking you fucking bitch gay? We know that you moved from the apartment on 48th street. We are going to take you.…We are looking for you again," one e-mail read. The Colombian police, Josué said, whether for lack of resources or lack of will, would not help. Last March, he said, the men his family had hired caught up with him. "For about three weeks I was inside because I couldn’t go out. The murderers were outside my home," Josué said. "I was afraid. I called the police many times. But they never came." That was when Josué knew he would have to leave.

Findlay said that in many countries, one of two things happens: "Either there are laws which make it illegal to be gay, or even without laws, the police harass queers and they do so with impunity."

Michael Battista, a Toronto immigration lawyer, told the Straight in a phone interview that Canadian refugee claims made on the basis of sexual orientation come from all over the world. He noted that the successful ones are made from countries with well-documented histories of persecution. "So we’re looking at the Middle East, Africa, countries in Asia, South America…" he said, trailing off. "There really isn’t any corner of the globe that escapes allegations that they’re persecuting lesbians and gays." Battista recalled the emotional story of an old Iranian man’s arrival in Toronto. An immigration official asked him on what basis he was making a refugee claim. The old man was speechless, Battista said. "So, eventually, the immigration officer at the airport suspected his sexual orientation and said, ‘Is it because you’re gay? Is that why you’re here?’ And he burst into tears because it was the first kind of public acknowledgment of who he really was."

And there are stories like that of a man from Zimbabwe who escaped to Canada after the president there, Robert Mugabe, ordered gays to be rounded up "like pigs and dogs", Battista said. Closer to home, Jamaica was recently condemned by Amnesty International as a country particularly dangerous for gays. A public statement issued by AI in April 2007 reads: "The organization is particularly concerned by reports of mob violence against persons perceived as homosexuals who are targeted because of their appearance or behavior, which seems to be increasing in frequency." Alan Herbert, a gay former city councillor and long-time participant in Vancouver’s Pride Parade, told the Straight in a phone interview that even relatively liberal countries such as the United States still need to improve the way people of different sexual orientations are treated.

"Gay men and women are, in law, second-class citizens in the U.S.," Herbert said. He argued the U.S.’s Defense of Marriage Act, which "expressly and explicitly forbids any kind of civil union, marriage, or domestic partnership [between persons of the same sex] in the majority of states in the U.S.", lowers the status of gay individuals to a point where they are less human than heterosexuals. "If you are a gay man living in the United States, you are decidedly second-class under law," he said. One theme of this year’s Vancouver Pride parade is human rights. John Boychuk, president of the Vancouver Pride Society, told the Straight that with gays still being persecuted around the world, "We realized that there was something that we could do as a role model with Vancouver Pride Society and as a community at large." He said that with this year’s parade, the Pride Society is reminding the gay community where it came from, what it has been through, and where it still has to go.

The Immigration and Refugee Board does not keep statistics on the number of refugees admitted to Canada on the basis of sexual orientation. However, according to lawyer Hughes–who specializes in representing gay and lesbian refugee claimants–hundreds of such claims are made to Canada every year. A Vancouver spokesperson for the IRB, Melissa Anderson, agreed with that estimate. Anderson said, however, that it is difficult for the board to maintain statistics on refugee claims made on the basis of sexual orientation because those claims are lumped into a more general category called "membership in a particular social group".

Colleen French, a communications coordinator for the Canadian Council on Refugees, told the Straight from Montreal that Canada has a very good reputation abroad for accepting refugee claims made by gays and lesbians escaping persecution. "Particularly if we compare with other countries," she noted. "But the problem in Canada is that the decision-making is very uneven," French added, "largely due to the fact the government has not put into place the IRB Refugee Appeal Division."

Hughes explained that the appeal division should have been implemented in June 2002, when the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act came into effect. "But the government of the day said they needed a year to implement the provisions," Hughes said. "Well, it’s been five years." As things stand now, once an individual’s refugee claim is denied, there is little hope he or she will be able to remain in Canada. In May 2006, Bloc Québécois MP Nicole Demers (Laval) introduced an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to ensure that an appeal division will exist in the near future. The bill has since passed through the House of Commons and will go before the Senate for a second reading after the 2007 summer break.

JOSUÉ made it to Vancouver in May through work with a cruise line. After the job was finished, he was escorted to Vancouver International Airport for his flight home. Josué said he found a customs agent and told him: "Sir, I cannot go back to my country.…Sir, because I’m gay and because they want to kill me." A Canadian immigration official fed Josué and promised to help him. "Her name was Rachel," Josué recalled. "I will never forget that name, because she was like my angel." Josué was taken to a Citizenship and Immigration Canada office in downtown Vancouver, where he was interviewed for several hours. Then he was granted refugee-claimant status, given documents for his referral to the refugee-protection division of the IRB, and told he could go.

"And then I was out in the city with my new life," Josué said. "At that moment, I felt very safe. I felt happy." Today, he waits for his refugee hearing, when he will be interviewed by an IRB member who will decide his fate. If his claim is approved, he will be permitted to file for permanent-resident status in Canada as a refugee on the basis of sexual orientation.

October 6, 2007 – The New York Times

Colombia: Court Extends Benefits to Gay Couples

by Reuters
The Constitutional Court ruled that homosexuals may include their partners in their health insurance plans. It is the first nationwide law of its kind in Latin America. A bill granting the benefit was passed by Congress in June but thrown out when a group of senators changed their minds. The bill’s backers then appealed to the court.

12 de enero de 2008 –

El plan: Bogotá Open Mind. El valor: Desde US $800.
Días aproximados: cuatro. Dirigido a: Parejas gay y lésbicas. Incluye: Estadía en hoteles cinco estrellas, desayunos, almuerzos, traslados, tour cultural por toda la ciudad, salida de compras por los principales centros comerciales, sesión de relajación en un centro de estética-spa y entradas a discotecas gays como Cavu, Lottus o Theatron.

Como este, un nutrido y colorido abanico de más de 10 planes turísticos se comercializan por la página web de Duo-Travel, una agencia de viajes colombiana que busca poner formalmente a Colombia en el mapa turístico internacional de la comunidad LGBT (Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales y Transexuales). Esto gracias a su asocio con el grupo International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (ILGBT), la organización con sede en la Florida (EE.UU.) que promueve en más de 250 países el turismo gay y lésbico por medio de sus más de 1.300 asociados desde hace 25 años.

Una movida con la que Bogotá se pone a la altura de la tradicional Calle de Castro en San Francisco, The West Village en Nueva York, el Marais de París, Soho de Londres, Gayxample en Barcelona, Callao y San Telmo en Buenos Aires o el barrio Chueca, en Madrid, los nuevos íconos del turismo y la diversión mundial LGBT en el mundo. Una estrategia que permite a estos escenarios de diversidad cultural recibir anualmente cerca de 45 millones de viajeros occidentales de esta comunidad que son potenciales y constantes consumidores de turismo internacional.

Según estadísticas de ILGBT y de centros de estudios europeos dedicados a este creciente nicho de mercado, como el Business Axel Consulting, en España, las ganancias de los negocios enfocados a la comunidad gay superan los US$ 70.000 millones por año. Sólo México mueve más de US$ 4.500 millones anuales y en países como Gran Bretaña la cifra salta hasta los US$ 5.900 millones.

En Colombia, el segmento del turismo ya está dando sus primeros pasos. Luisa Mahecha, gerente comercial de Duo-Travel, aspira a mover dentro de los próximos seis meses más de 300 pasajeros por mes y lograr beneficios por el orden de los $1.000 millones a finales de este año. “Aunque el negocio apenas comienza, los movimientos registrados en diciembre, que llegaron a los $ 100 millones, nos muestran una buena perspectiva”, dice Mahecha.

La industria turística nacional también tiene dentro sus objetivos un nicho comercial bastante alto, el de la llegada de cruceros, un segmento que otros países ya han identificado como rentable. Uno de los ejemplos a seguir es el “Crucero gay”, que en febrero de 2006 llevó al puerto de Buenos Aires a 684 pasajeros, quienes por día gastaron, en promedio, US$ 220 por persona durante la semana que estuvo allí la embarcación.

Algo para lo que parece que ya Bogotá está preparada, pues “hemos desarrollado un modelo de gestión que es realmente pionero en toda América Latina”, comenta Elizabeth Castillo, directora del centro comunitario LGBT de Bogotá. “Estamos preparados para recibir turistas del mismo sexo sin ninguna dificultad y sin ningún tipo de discriminación. Para eso están los más de 200 establecimientos, entre discotecas, cafés, bares, saunas y boutiques especiales para gays que tiene la capital”.

Viajes para dos
El segundo plan apetecido por la comunidad LGBT en Colombia es el crucero por el Amazonas. Sus tarifas van desde los US$ 750 por persona y es más conocido como el “Crucero 100% gay”. El plan incluye los traslados desde el aeropuerto hasta el buque, situado en Iquitos; cuatro días y tres noches, todas las comidas tipo buffet, cabinas con aire acondicionado, baño privado, fiestas homosexuales todas las noches con strippers, bar abierto las 24 horas con las mejores marcas de licor, espectáculo de Drag queens y búsqueda de delfines rosados en la noche.

Aunque ya son varias las agencias de turismo que ofrecen este tipo de servicios para la comunidad gay en el país hacia ciudades como Cali y Cartagena, solamente tres fueron las aceptadas por ILGBT, “pues deben ser compañías serias y que demuestren una gran trayectoria en el negocio del turismo, contar con algún tipo de experiencia en el segmento gay y estar en un país que acepte a la comunidad sin discriminación alguna”, comenta Ylan Chrem, representante para Latinoamérica de la asociación. “Las elegidas fueron Viajes Chapinero (propietaria de Duo-Travel), Quimbaya Tours y Over Balboa Viajes”.

El costo para ser parte de la organización es de US$ 250 a US$ 550 anuales, de acuerdo con la cantidad de empleados que tenga la empresa, pues cada uno de ellos puede ser usuario de los beneficios que trae hacer parte de esta organización. Sin embargo, para Latinoamérica “hemos rebajado el precio a US$ 175 anuales, sin importar el tamaño de la misma”, asegura Chrem. El objetivo es que las distintas capitales de América Latina estén a la altura de Río de Janeiro y Buenos Aires, que ya se han convertido en íconos para el mundo gay.

Prueba de ello es el Axel Hotel de Buenos Aires, un sitio de cinco estrellas para la comunidad gay abierto en octubre del año pasado, en el que se invirtieron 5 millones de euros y que se ha convertido en el emblema comercial gay de todo el Cono Sur. Allí fueron hospedados los participantes del Mundial Gay que se jugó en la capital del país austral y en noviembre tuvo una ocupación del 100% cuando se llevó a cabo el Festival Internacional de Tango Gay.

Chrem apunta: “El pasajero gay tiene dinero, tiene un gusto sofisticado, van donde se sientan cómodos y donde encuentren atractivos culturales, históricos, arqueológicos o de gastronomía y del buen vivir. Además, les encanta ir de compras cuando están fuera de su casa. Por eso, en los últimos años Latinoamérica, comenzando por Brasil y Argentina, ha posicionado destinos muy interesantes, como Machu Picchu, en Perú, y Galápagos, en Ecuador, además de lo que ofrece Colombia. Los destinos que cumplen con ese perfil turístico son los que estamos buscando, convirtiéndolos en sitios donde la comunidad quiere estar”.

Entre tanto, Duo-Travel también ofrece planes internacionales para las parejas colombianas y entre los que más se han pedido aparecen Río de Janeiro, Montevideo, Punta del Este, Buenos Aires, Aruba, Lima y Machu Picchu. Planes a los que han llegado interesados mayoritariamente hombres entre los 30 y 50 años y que también han preguntado reiteradamente por destinos en la India y China, sitios en los que la ILGBT también tiene asociados.

Un negocio que está subiendo como la espuma y que cuenta con el respaldo de cadenas internacionales de hoteles como la Marriott, aerolíneas como American Airlines y Delta, rentadoras de autos como National y cadenas de almacenes como Macy’s.

Es un mercado con un potencial tan grande que, al parecer le permitirá a Colombia no sólo estar ante los ojos del exclusivo mundo de turistas gays, sino que le permitirá recibir los dividendos de una comunidad que año tras año gasta proporcionalmente más que el mismo público heterosexual turista de todo el mundo.

April 17, 2008 – Colombia
From: "Germán H. Rincón Perfetti"

The Colombian Constitutional Court gives the green light to same-sex partner pensions

Colombia has once again made news in its search for social justice on planet earth, with this decision of the constitutional court. The court considered that the same pension system presently in force is applicable to same-sex couples. With this decision, the court has continued down the road it started on last year, when it made man-woman couples that lived together the same as same-sex couples; and later with the affiliation of the same-sex partners into the national general health insurance system; and now again with the subject of pensions. This is a new high impact activist strategy in which organizations and activists together with Academia (a public interest group at the Universidad de los Andes – Colombia Diversa), have drawn as a roadmap, calculating the interventions, etc., step by step.

With this decision, Colombia has complied with the decision of the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations. (The case of Mister X against Colombia) who by means of communique 1361/2005" CCPR/c/89/d/ 1361/2005 available in Spanish at http://www.bayefsky .com/./pdf/ colombia_ t5_iccpr_ 1361_2005_ sp.pdf and in English at http://www.ohchr. org/english/ bodies/hrc/ which asked the country of Colombia to solve this problem throughout the country.

It sets out the arguments which we raise, that it precisely the country of Colombia that has the obligation, having ratified the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights Which 99% of the countries of the world are members of. The organizations or persons that desire support from the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations can turn to me, and I will be glad to collaborate with them taking into account my experience as the attorney of Mister X. In the same manner, before the Interamerican Commission of Human rights where I have filed a similar case.

German Humberto Rincon Perfetti (rinconperfettigerma n@hotmail. com)
G&M de Colombia Abogados
Asociacion Lideres en Accion
Calle 71, No. 6-57, Office 302
Telephones: +571-210-2530 or +571-210-2534
Bogota – Colombia – S.A.

Fuera de clase por preferir su mismo sexo (Story in Spanish about two lesbian students expelled from high school)

La Secretaria de Educación Municipal dice que por ninguna circunstancia debe retirarse a un estudiante del plan escolar por ese motivo. La rectora afirma que salieron de la institución porque tuvieron mala disciplina. Controversia.

Luisa Fernanda Mejía

Redactora/La Patria*


Durante las tardes de esta semana las dos jóvenes se han desatrasado de todas las materias. Ellas son pareja desde hace 16 meses y dicen que no pudieron volver al colegio porque las directivas decidieron no dejarlas matricular, debido a su condición sexual. Sin embargo, en el plantel educativo de Manizales afirmaron que el problema de ambas es la indisciplina. Frente a esta situación la Secretaria de Educación de Manizales, María Constanza Montoya Naranjo, manifiesta que en cuanto a la discriminación de los niños por diversos motivos (religiosos, sexuales, aprendizaje) se encuentra a disposición la Unidad de Cobertura en la que existe un jefe de núcleo para atender este tipo de dificultades.

“Es bueno que los casos en los colegios se denuncien en la Secretaría de Educación Municipal. Hay que recordarle a la comunidad y a los rectores que deben defender la permanencia de los estudiantes en las instituciones”, comenta la funcionaria. Montoya Naranjo explica que antes de retirar a un estudiante de una institución es necesario hacer un análisis de la situación y determinar si el caso tiene el aval de la dependencia. “Existen casos de niños que no pueden vivir en comunidad. Lo cierto es que ningún alumno debe quedar por fuera del sistema escolar. Ya es decisión de nosotros dónde lo ubicamos y lo asesoramos, pero nunca retirándolo”. La Secretaria de Educación afirma que la dependencia vela porque todos los jóvenes y niños obtengan un cupo independientemente de la edad y cualquier circunstancia. También dice que si la conducta de los estudiantes influye en el desarrollo social de la comunidad entonces no se debe tomar una decisión. “Es necesario acercarse a la Secretaría para saber qué hacer”, puntualiza.

Ese no es el problema
Para ambas ha sido traumática la situación por la que están pasando. Consideran que es bueno esperar para reintegrarse a su institución. Las jóvenes manifiestan que deben ser tratadas como iguales, pero que la rectora del colegio no les da la oportunidad de desarrollarse como persona. “Desde que ella supo sobre nuestra relación nos montó la perseguidora y anotó todo en el libro de observación”. La directiva del colegio se defiende diciendo que la pareja de menores no fue echada por su condición sexual sino por los indebidos comportamientos. “El viernes (de la semana pasada) vino el Defensor del Pueblo con dos abogados y ellos vieron en el observador los compromisos que tenían las jóvenes y no los cumplieron”, sostuvo la rectora.

La directiva comenta que las niñas llegaron algunas veces con olor a cerveza, además de que fumaban con el uniforme puesto. Mantiene su posición de que todo está enmarcado en faltas disciplinarias y no en que lleven una relación siendo del mismo sexo. “Aquí tengo muchas niñas con esa tendencia, pero son personas con buena disciplina”.

La rectora de la institución dice claramente que en caso de que las estudiantes regresen al colegio ella desocupará el plantel. Una de las jovencitas asegura que la directiva le sugirió a su tía que la enviaran a vivir a Medellín, pero la menor no aceptó. La pareja espera que se dé una solución rápida para no perder más tiempo de estudio. Para ellas sería una de las mejores sorpresas que el próximo viernes disfruten de sus 16 meses de relación con la situación definida.

* El nombre de las fuentes e instituciones se obvian por solicitud de ellas.

Con orgullo: son lesbianas
Aunque tuvo varios novios nunca le gustó ser femenina. Desde los nueve años empezó a notar ciertas diferencias con las demás niñas, pues no le gustaba utilizar maquillaje ni los tacones. Las dos jóvenes empezaron siendo las mejores amigas y de repente una de ellas le habló sobre su gusto por la otra. Iniciaron la relación a escondidas de todo el mundo. “Mi tía siempre me ha apoyado y algunas personas de mi familia saben, pero otras ni se imaginan”, dice una de las niñas. Comenta además que en un principio su mamá sospechaba y que después supo la verdad cuando la tía le aconsejó decirle lo que sentía por su compañera de curso. “Para mi mamá fue muy duro porque soy hija única”. Después de todo, en el colegio y en los hogares de ambas han sido aceptadas con su condición sexual. “Los papás de mi compañera nos apoyan demasiado, en cambio los míos lo saben, pero les es indiferente”, menciona la joven. Ella afirma que sus padres están muy preocupados, debido a que no han podido iniciar clases después de un mes de haber empezado el año escolar.

Ser lesbianas ha sido un inconveniente para estas jovencitas y creen que es necesario darle tiempo al tiempo para que las acepten como son. Sin embargo, cuentan con el apoyo de 90 compañeras del colegio quienes firmaron una carta para que sean aceptadas de nuevo en el plantel y no sean rechazadas por ser novias.

Algunos expertos
Un psicólogo, un sacerdote, un pedagogo y un abogado dan sus opiniones con respecto al tema. El sacerdote prefirió no dar su nombre y el pedagogo es del mismo colegio donde se lleva a cabo el proceso.

* El psicólogo manizaleño Antonio Quintero dice que no se puede dejar de lado la realidad sino que hay que aceptarla con normalidad. “Las estudiantes deben ser aceptadas como son, no importa de quién o por qué se fijan en su mismo sexo”.

El especialista afirma que los homosexuales y las lesbianas deben ser incluidos en la sociedad porque son personas normales.

* El abogado Jaime Ospina explica que se debe analizar bien el tema para saber cuál es la verdad. Para el experto en casos de familia lo más importante es respetar los derechos de la Constitución Colombiana como el derecho a la libre personalidad y a la educación.

* Un pedagogo, del mismo colegio donde ocurrió el problema, comenta que al trabajar con personas de tendencias hacia el mismo sexo es una situación que se afronta con normalidad, pero que en muchos casos estas personas se aprovechan de su condición para obtener beneficios.

* Un sacerdote manizaleño explica que es muy complicado dar una opinión según la Iglesia. “Debe haber comprensión más no alcahuetería. La iglesia dice que hay un pecado, pero se acoge con amor, Dios no rechaza al pecador sino al pecado”.

Caso en universidad de Bogotá
El 23 de enero un homosexual presentó una tutela contra la Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia. El caso es de una pareja de jóvenes que convivieron durante 7 años. Uno de los dos falleció y su madre pidió todos los bienes diciendo que había pagado los gastos funerarios. Sin embargo, fue su pareja quien los canceló. Desde el 7 de febrero de 2007, conforme sentencia de la Corte Constitucional, se asimilaron las parejas del mismo sexo que viven sin estar casados.

“Acogiéndose a esa sentencia y como quiera que por ley es indispensable antes de presentar demanda llevar a cabo audiencia de conciliación, el joven llevó al Centro de Conciliación de la Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia una solicitud para citar a la ‘suegra’”, dice el informe. La Universidad Cooperativa desconociendo el fallo de la Corte y prevaleciendo el prejuicio negó tramitar la audiencia por considerar que solo se podía llevar a cabo “entre un hombre y una mujer”.

Con relación a este tema el abogado de la pareja de quien murió manifestó: “La justicia colombiana a través de la Corte Constitucional saldando una deuda histórica de justicia social otorgó beneficios a las parejas del mismo sexo, y ahora quienes deben aplicarla se niegan a realizarlo por homofobia y discriminación. Esto es un absurdo, una vergüenza y un contrasentido”.


La pareja de menores no fue echada por su condición sexual sino por los indebidos comportamientos, según la rectora

April 26, 2008 –

Colombia: Allowed back in school by court order, lesbian students are heckled by student body, school principal

In most Roman gladiator movies there is a scene in which slaves are led to the coliseum to be slayed by Roman fighters or mauled by lions. Usually the camera shows them entering the arena through a passageway as the sounds of the cheering crowd get progressively louder and then emerge into the blinding sunlight to a now-deafening cacophony and the sight of the bleachers filled with hundreds of blood-thirsty spectators. For some reason, that was what came to my mind when I saw the extraordinary images captured in the video above at an all-girls school in Manizalez, Colombia, as broadcast on Caracol News last night (begin watching at the :26 second mark).
Background: On February 10, La Patria broke the story of the expulsion of two girls from the Leonardo Da Vinci High School in Manizalez allegedly because they were lesbians ("Out of classes for preferring their same gender," La Patria, Feb. 10, 2008).

The issue had come to the forefront because María Constanza Montoya Naranjo, the city’s Secretary of Education, said that they had received a complaint of discrimination at the 1,500 student high school and that the city was looking into the claims. Magola Franco Pérez, the school’s principal, argued then that the two girls had been expelled for behavior and not because they were lesbians. She told the reporter that there were many other girls with the same "tendency" at the school but that the others did not have behavioral problems (which, according to the principal, included showing up to school with the smell of beer on their breath and being seen smoking while in school uniform). She said that if the school was ordered to welcome the two students back, she would resign in protest.

The young women, 16 and 17 years of age respectively, had been in a 16-month relationship and told the newspaper they were trying to keep up with their studies on their own while they fought to be allowed back in school. Court rules in girls’ favor: The girls’ parents brought the case to court on April 10th under the Colombian court "expedited ruling" process called tutela and this Thursday a court ruled in their favor. The ruling stated that the school principal had had been "unclear" in the reasons for letting the students go and ordered her to allow the girls to register for classes within 48 hours ("Two lesbian students who had been expelled from a Manizalez school will be reintegrated," El Tiempo, April 24, 2008). The Roman coliseum: The girls and their lawyer returned to school yesterday morning with the court order but even they could not have expected the vehemency of their less than friendly welcome.

Shouting "We don’t want you" (no las queremos, which you can clearly listen in the video) and "We want Magola" (queremos a Magola, in support of the high school principal, also seen later in the video), a large number of Leonardo Da Vinci High School Students clearly expressed where their allegiance lied despite the Principal’s reported congratulations to the students on having won the case as they registered for classes ("Leonardo Da Vinci School follows court ruling," La Patria, April 26, 2008). In the video, the girls’ lawyer, Maria Elena Castrillon, is visibly stunned by the reception and is shown crying. "This appears to be without precedence," she tells Caracol, "A situation such as this it’s inadmissible."

Despite the "We don’t want you" shouts one of the students that organized the protest – who is shown with her face against the camera – insists that the protest is not against the two girls but a defense of the dignity of the school’s students. "They [claim] that we are school purely made up by lesbians, and, no, things aren’t like that," she tells Caracol. She admits that the rally is also in support of Principal Pérez who, in the La Patria article, is said to have been questioned by some civil rights leaders who were present for such a reaction (they requested that Pérez institute a number of trainings on the issue of discrimination for the school’s students). The paper also noted that the protesters had access to school resources including the internal communication network which the protesters used to rally students (the Principal denied any role in allowing students to use the intercom system).

By day’s end, as shown in the video, the Principal was finally talking to reporters and expressing anger that her authority had been challenged not only in expelling the students but also for being taken to task for what she called an impromptu demonstration by students yesterday. Our friends at the Colombian LGBT rights organization Colombia Diversa have supported the girls and their families through the court process and are following up on these developments (that’s their Executive Director, Marcela Sanchez, in the video responding to the atrocious student response). In the meantime, a Facebook group has been formed to fight homophobia in Colombian high schools, and some are calling for an annual Colombian version of the Day of Silence demonstration similar to those that just took place in the United States this week. In the meantime the two girls are supposed to return to class full time on Monday. Let’s see how it goes.

Organization of American States approves "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity" Resolution

Medellín , Colombia
The Organization of American States, at its 38th meeting carried out in Medellín , Colombia , approved, by consensus, Resolution "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity".
The resolution was presented by the government of Brazil , and was approved after three days of negotiations and a mobilization campaign by civilians present there. The English-Speaking Caribbean countries (some countries still criminalize homosexuality) initially resisted and the initial text – although short, was further shortened.

* The decision includes gender identity (a subject considered difficult in many countries and forgotten by many activists in the world) besides sexual orientation, and recognizes the existence of the human rights violations to the ITBLG population.

* This is the result of a strategy of political incidence organized within the regional system of the OAS since 2006 and was designed by Global Rights, Mulabi – Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos e IGLHRC (International Gays and Lesbianas Human Rights Commision) Latin America section.

* We also had an informal session with Mr. Insulza, the Secretary General and afterwards we presented a declaration before the plenary session, finding clear and key support.

* At the end is the text of the resolution in English together with the declaration presented to the General Assembly by Camilo, a young 14-year-old Colombian transsexual (female to male).

* At the end you will find the list of the people that made up the working group ( 20 people – 16 countries)
* I consider that with this resolution we have "come out of the closet before the OAS and that now we exist in that political space".

Germán Humberto Rincón Perfetti
Bogotá – Colombia

Work Group:
Belissa Andia (Instituto Runa – Secretaría Trans ILGA, Perú)
Caleb Orozco (United Belice Advocacy Movement, Belice)*
Camila Zabala ( Aireana , Paraguay ) ***
Camilo Rojas, Sentimos Diverso , Colombia )
Cindy Loren (GATTA, Brasil
Claudia Spelman (Colectivo Travesti de San Pedro Sula,
Edmilson Medeiros (Red Afro LGBT y Articulação Politica das Juventudes
Negras, Brasil)
Germán Rincón Perfetti (Asociación. Lideres en acción, Colombia )
Javier Minnota Minnota ( Afro América XXI, Colombia )
July Betanzes (Colectiva Mujer y Salud, República Dominicana)
Marcelo Ferreyra (IGLHRC, Argentina )
Marina Bernal (Mulabi, México-Colombia)
Michel Riquelme (Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de laDiversidad, Chile )
Natasha Jiménez ( Mulabi , Costa Rica )
Sandra Montealegre (Mesa Joven por la Diversidad Sexual , Colombia )
Sara Hoyos (Activista independiente, Colombia )
Silvia Martínez (Red LAC/Trans, Nicaragua )
Stefano Fabeni (Global Rights, Italia/EEUU)
Tamara Adrian (DIVERLEX, Venezuela )
Tatiana Cordero (Taller Comunicación Mujer , Ecuador
Maurice Tomlinson ( Jamaica AIDS Support for Life , Jamaica )
Vidyaratha Kissoon (Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination
SASOD, Guyana )

Re. Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, And Gender Identity The General Assembly Reaffirming:

*That the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;

*That the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man establishes that every human being has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person;

Considering that the OAS Charter proclaims that the historic mission of America is to offer to man a land of liberty and a favorable environment for the development of his personality and the realization of his just aspirations;

Reaffirming the principles of universality, indivisibility, and interdependence of human rights;

Taking Note with concern acts of violence and related human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity;


1. To express concern about acts of violence and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

2. To request that the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) include on its agenda, before the thirty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly, the topic of "Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

3. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the resources allocated in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

Medellin Declaration of the Coalition of Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals, Travesti, Transsexuals, Transgenders and Intersex of The Americas

Mister Secretary General, Ministers, Members of the Official Delegations, Civil Society Representatives,

We, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, travesti, transsexual, transgender and intersex organizations, convened in Medellin , Colombia on May 29, 30 and 31, 2008, in accordance with directives established by the General Assembly of the OAS in its resolutions AG/RES.2092( XXXV-O/05) which determine a regulatory framework to enhance and strengthen civil society participation in OAS activities and in the Summit of the Americas process, are concerned** that in the draft declaration of Medellín "Youth and democratic values" there are no references to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, even though they were part of the recommendations from the civil society meeting in Washington , from the 10th to the 14th of March, 2008.

Our reality as youth is characterized by the violation of the right to life; we are victims of torture, genital mutilations, forced medical surgery and sexual violence. Our rights to health, education, identity, work and participation are denied. We are constantly victims of stigmatization and exclusion in our families and in society as a whole. Our visibility and the right to our social and legal identities are also denied. All these rights violations are caused by social, cultural and religious prejudices that destroy our dignity as citizens.

All our rights are systematically violated in all countries of the hemisphere.

Since this reality contradicts the essence of the democratic values of the OAS, we recommend:

– That Member States recognize the existence of diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression among young persons. This includes recognizing the rights to change name and sex in our legal documents without requiring genital mutilation.
– That Member States promote the respect for diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in education and media to build a just, equitable and inclusive society.
– That Member States ensure, especially to youth, full access to education, health, employment and occupation without discrimination; in case of rights violations within families and communities of origin to provide services sensitive to the needs of young persons.
– That Member States repeal all criminalizing and discriminatory legislation, and promote cultural, social and institutional changes which are aimed at preventing and punishing discrimination and violence, and thereby fully guaranteeing our rights.
– That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution CP/CAJP-2626/ 08 "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" presented by the Brazilian Delegation, whose initiative we fully endorse. At the same time we urge all Member States to support the above mentioned resolution.
– That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution AG/doc4794/08 "Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance" and that Member States commit themselves to finalizing the negotiation of the draft accepting the substantive progress achieved during the past year.

We believe that, as long as discrimination and intolerance against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, travesti, transsexuals, transgenders and intersex continue unpunished in our societies, there will neither be democratic values for youth, nor will there be democracy for all.

The link to see the video is:
http://www.oas. org/OASpage/ live/show. asp?LocationMMS= http://www. videosasf/ 2008/06/ROJAS_ sociedadcivil_ 1junio019. wmv&wCaption

Thank you
Palabras de Camilo Andrés Rojas, Representante de la Red de Organizaciones por los derechos de personas gays, lesbianas y transexuales

January 29, 2009 –

Colombia Establishes Equality For Gay Couples

by On Top Magazine Staff
Colombia’s Constitutional Court said Wednesday that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to equality. An April 2008 lawsuit supported by a number of human rights organizations sought to alleviate a series of inequalities in Colombia law. Colombia does not offer gay marriage or civil unions for gay couples, but in 2007 the same court extended several common-law marriage benefits to gay couples. Yesterday’s ruling goes farther, giving gay couples all the benefits and responsibilities enjoyed by heterosexual common-law couples.

Gay and lesbian couples can claim common-law marriage after living together for two years. The ruling alleviates discrepancies in the areas of military pensions, social security benefits and property rights. Several prominent lawmakers support giving more rights to gay and lesbian couples, Bogota’s Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzon and prominent Senator Armando Benedetti among them, reports the Washington Post.

Colombia lawmakers have attempted to pass a civil union law in the past, but the effort collapsed under the weight of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the South American country’s near universal religion. Bogota, the nation’s capital and largest city, enjoys a thriving gay nightlife and community, but homophobia in the country of 42 million remains entrenched and violence is widespread. Gay people are often called desechables, which translates to disposable people.

February 20,2009 –

Gay Life in Colombia: An Interview with Marcela Sánchez of Colombia Diversa

Marcela Sánchez is the executive director of the gay and lesbian rights organisation Colombia Diversa. Following a landmark Constitutional Court ruling in favour of civil unions for same-sex couples, she spoke with the City Paper editor Andrew Dier. The interview appears in the February edition of The City Paper and is republished with permission.

City Paper: After the court ruling in January, where does Colombia stand in terms of gay and lesbian rights?

Marcela Sánchez: In terms of same-sex partner rights, Colombia is at the forefront of rights in Latin America. The first country to achieve that in the region was Uruguay, but what we have now in Colombia puts us in first place because of the number of rights we have. There are a handful of countries, of course, that offer same-sex marriage rights and adoption rights.

Has the fight for equality been won here?
Not at all. There are still prejudices among public officials who are reluctant to fulfil their obligations when same-sex couples go to them to take advantage of their rights. Discrimination against LGBT people as individuals still exists, particularly in the workplace, schools and in the social arena.

How was your coming out?
I’m from the department of Caldas, but came out of the closet when I was 20 in Bogotá when I was at the university. That was when I had my first relationship with a woman. With my friends, fellow students and even supervisors it wasn’t a big deal. With my family, it was a slower and progressive process.

What was your first taste of activism?
I was first involved in the feminist movement here, then worked in the health sector to incorporate recognition of rights in that field.

How did Colombia Diversa begin?
It began with a group of activists and academics who had worked together to promote legislation in Congress about same-sex partner rights. When they archived the bill in 2003, we saw the need to set up a permanent and strategic organization.

In only five years since its founding, Colombia Diversa has accomplished a lot. Are you surprised by your success?
Yes and no. It doesn’t surprise me because the Constitution is very progressive and states that diversity should be respected. I’m not surprised either, because we have done a lot of serious work, with the participation of so many individuals and organizations. With so many allies, that shows that this is an issue that is in the public interest.

In what ways do you consider Bogotá to be an accepting city for LGBT people?
In many ways. The mayor’s office has a public policy for the LGBT population, there is an LGBT community centre in Chapinero operating for two years now, there is a huge offer of gay bars and other places of interest, and we have quite a bit of visibility in the media here.

What is the community centre about?
It’s a place where LGBT people can feel comfortable, where they offer psychological and legal counselling and hold cultural events.

What is still lacking here?
We need to make our legal triumphs into a reality and we need for smaller towns and regions to make advances like the community has achieved in big cities like in Bogotá.

What are some of the major events here on the gay calendar?
Our gay pride march on the first weekend of July and the Ciclo Rosa LGBT film festival is usually held in September.

Do you think that Bogotá could become an international gay tourist destination?
I think so. There is a lot of potential there. But we need for the city government to begin to promote it.

Where are some good places for women to hang out?
Mmm… I don’t really go out that much. But I think it is important to support the few night spots for women here.

In the gay world here in Colombia, is it still predominantly dominated by men?
Well, at least they are more visible. But I think that, at least in the activism world, the role of lesbians and transgendered people is growing.

What do your family and friends think of your activist life?
They are very happy. They like that I am part of a group that is changing the history of this country. They are happy that I am their cousin, sister, daughter, niece.

How do you explain that in Colombia, with so many problems regarding terrorism, kidnapping and the armed conflict, the country at the same time is extremely advanced in terms of same-sex couple rights?
Colombia is a country of many contrasts, those problems have very different origins and causes and really can’t be compared.

What are some other causes dear to you?
Women’s equality and a Colombia free of war

So far, in the gay rights movement, activists have focused on changes in the law. But are there certain things that you think LGBT people should be doing themselves in order to improve their situation?
Foremost, we have the responsibility to take advantage of our rights that we have won. We should make sure that government officials fulfil their responsibilities and we should support new initiatives in other cities and countries and support other human rights organizations.

Although there have been so many gays and lesbians in public life here before, why do you think it is so hard for them to come out publicly?
Because despite the legal advances and even though discrimination is illegal, many people continue to place limits on the rights of others because of their sexual orientation. Many can’t speak of their sexual orientation when they talk about their lives.

Do you think Colombia is ready for an openly gay or lesbian member of Congress?
Yes, but only if their campaign isn’t based on their sexual orientation.

What would be your message to those who believe that homosexuality is a sin?
It is worth mentioning that there are many churches here in Colombia quite inclusive of gay people, and the Catholic Church has condemned discrimination against gay people. But for those who think being gay is a sin, this idea must never hold influence in government affairs and should never be imposed on the population.

March 3, 2009 – PinkNews

Increased rights for Colombian same-sex partners "not automatic"

by Jessica Geen
Gay and lesbian couples in Colombia still face challenges after a ruling granting them increased rights. The decision by the Constitutional Court means that same-sex partners will now have all of the guarantees and benefits offered to unmarried heterosexual couples, except adoption. The ruling expanded on earlier legal decisions issued by the Court in 2007 and 2008, which extended several common-law marriage property and inheritance rights, as well as social security and health insurance rights, to same-sex couples.
It is estimated that 300,000 LGBT couples will now enjoy full inheritance rights and the right to Colombian nationality for a foreigner in a same-sex union with a Colombian in the country.

Members of same-sex couples cannot be forced to testify against their partners and those in the armed forces will receive benefits previously limited to heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples will also have the right to reparations when one of the partners suffers from armed conflict-related crimes like murder, torture, sexual abuse, or forced displacement or disappearance. However, experts have said that while the law has been passed, efforts must be made to ensure it is enforced.

Lawyer Mauricio Albarracín, a member of gay civil rights advocacy group Colombia Diversa’s legal committee, told news agency IPS: "What was achieved was a reform to all of the existing laws and rules, and now it must be put into effect in all spheres. Public and private employees must be given instructions, and people must be encouraged to use the new rights, preventing more discrimination or demands that gays and lesbians be required to provide additional requisites. Our immediate task is to make sure that the ruling is enforced in all spheres."

Head of Colombia Diversa Marcela Sánchez said that compliance with the court decision "is not automatic, and we have to demand government measures to help the content of the ruling overcome prejudices, and to assist people who don’t know how to use what they have never had." She added that the group would continue to fight for the rights to marry and adopt.

March 2009 –

Colombia: Protest the Murder of LGBT Human Rights Defender

The rights violated in this case include: The right to life, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to equality

The Issue
On March 6, 2009, unknown men killed the human rights defender Álvaro Miguel Rivera in the city of Cali, Colombia. Álvaro was the representative of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organization, Tínku. He was also a member of Planeta Paz, a national peace network, and of the Polo Rosa, the LGBTI section of a left wing political party. Álvaro was far and foremost a committed activist who worked for the rights of the LGBTI community and people living with HIV. In the past, threats against his life had already made Álvaro flee Villavicencio, a city in Eastern Colombia.

Álvaro’s murder takes place in a city where violence against the LGBTI community is constant. In a March 12, 2009, news release, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) “condemned the murder of Álvaro Miguel Rivera Linares” and stated concern “about the situation of insecurity faced by those who defend the rights of the LGBT community in Colombia, especially in the city of Cali.” Álvaro himself documented such violence in Cali for Colombia Diversa’s 2007 human rights report and, until his death, continued to speak out against the killings of gay men in the city.

This is the second murder of an LGBTI rights defender in Colombia in the past 13 months. On February 16, 2008, unknown assailants killed Fredys Pineda in Apartadó, a city in northwestern Colombia. Pineda was a consultant on enforced displacement for the Ombudsman’s Office. In the past, Pineda worked for the rights of LGBT people and in HIV/AIDS prevention in Cordoba, a state in northern Colombia. The organizations calling for this urgent appeal have also documented and made public the continued violations of human rights, including the murders of many other members of the LGBTI community in Colombia and Cali in particular.

For more information please follow these links:

October 16, 2009 – Blabbeando

Colombia: Court says gay man has right to equal share of property in separation from partner

Is this another first in Latin America? The top court in the city of Pereira, Colombia, located in the center-west state of Risaralda, has ruled that when a same-sex couple splits, the former partners are entitled to an equal distribution of belongings, just as married heterosexual partners are given the same right. The verdict follows a January ruling by the Colombian Supreme Court which stopped short of granting marriage or civil union rights to same-sex partners but basically said that gay couples should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual partners.

In this case, Julio Alfredo Girardo, who had spent 27 years with Jorge Eduardo Gómez Alzate, went to court and sued him after Gómez Alzate dumped him and took their belongings. On Tuesday, El Tiempo reported that a lower court had already judged against Girardo last year. Girardo decided to appeal the decision and emerged victorious. The court determined that there was enough proof of a "marital society" between the men, which also meant that Girardo had the right to an equal distribution of belongings.

"I wasn’t about to do what many people do, who, for fear of letting others know about their homosexuality, they remain quiet," said Girardo. "Someone had to take the step, and that was me".

Attorney Fabio Girardo Sanz, speaking to Caracol Radio, said that the ruling set a national precedent and could apply to other regions in the country for individuals in a similar situation. So there is still no civil unions or marriage rights for same-sex couples in Colombia but the courts are beginning to recognize same-sex couples as family units deserving the same rights as heterosexual partners.

August 27, 2010 – OnTop Magazine

Sixty-Three Percent Of Bogota Residents Support Gay Marriage

by On Top Magazine Staff
A new poll finds a large percentage of residents of Bogota, Colombia favor gay marriage, Caracol Radio reported. The research firm Econometrics SA’s telephone survey of 200 thousand Bogota residents found that sixty-three percent agree that gay men and lesbians should be allowed to marry. The study is the most comprehensive on LGBT people ever conducted in the country.

Bogota is Colombia’s largest city with over eight million residents and is the nation’s capital. The city is known as “The Athens of South America” for its large number of universities and libraries. The poll offers increasing evidence that gay marriage is widely accepted in major cities across Latin America. Mexico City approved the region’s first gay marriage law in December and Argentina lawmakers quickly followed its lead, approving Latin America’s first gay marriage law last month.

Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that all 30 of the country’s states must recognize the gay marriages originating in its capital, in effect legalizing gay marriage recognition throughout the country. Other Latin American countries, including Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay, will debate later this year whether to recognize gay unions.

November 14, 2010 – On Top Magazine

Colombia’s High Court Rejects Gay Marriage Challenge

by On Top Magazine Staff
Colombia’s Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit challenging the nation’s marriage laws that if successful would have legalized gay marriage, Telesur reported.
The court voted 5-4 to dismiss a lawsuit brought by 2 attorneys for a change in the country’s laws that would remove the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

The court said the request, filed in September 2009, was flawed and presented in an irregular manner. The court’s president, however, added that “nothing is final.” “It is possible to insist on civil marriage for same sex couples in front of the court,” Judge Mauricio Gonzalez Cuervo said, “but with more detailed arguments because this issue will play a vital role within Colombia’s constitution.”

Gay activists on Friday said they would protest the decision. A recent poll found that a large percentage (63%) of residents of Bogota, the country’s capital and largest city with over eight million residents, favor giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Mexico City approved Latin America’s first gay marriage law in December and lawmakers in Argentina quickly followed its lead, approving the region’s first nationwide gay marriage law in July.

Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that all 30 of the country’s states must recognize the gay marriages originating in its capital, in effect legalizing gay marriage recognition throughout the country. Other Latin American countries, including Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay, are considering laws that recognize the unions of gay couples.