Columbia same-sex couples win right to share property

Troy Espera | February 12, 2007

The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples should have the same property rights as heterosexuals in common-law marriages, marking the first recognition of gay couples� rights in this South American nation.

According to the New York Times, church leaders in Colombia said Thursday they had no objection to the ruling, which came late Wednesday, as long as it does not open the door for same-sex marriage or adoption.

"This is a very important step, because it's the first time that any state entity is recognizing rights for same-sex couples here," the Times quoted Virgilio Barco Isakson, president of the board of Colombia Diversa, a gay-rights group.

The court ruled that if a gay couple of two years separates, the assets accumulated during the relationship will be divided between the two, and in the case of death, the survivor will receive all the assets.

Previously if one died, his or her possessions passed on to the surviving family.

As in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was approved by the state's high court rather than by the Legislature, the Colombian court ruling follows four failed attempts in Colombia's congress since 1999 to promote legislation guaranteeing economic and legal benefits to gay partners.

While homosexuals celebrated the ruling, activists told the media they would continue fighting for parity with heterosexual couples.

"Laws are not enough, an important cultural shift is needed... for discrimination to end," Columbia Diversa�s Marcela Sanchez said, reports the BBC.

The AP reports that Wednesday's ruling was condemned by some lay Catholic groups, which described it as "going against the family and matrimony". – Issued by Gay Link Content

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