Colombia has become the latest Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage, with its constitutional court declaring such marriages to be a fundamental right.
The groundbreaking ruling comes after years of legal battles in the intensely Catholic country and was ushered in after the constitutional court had earlier in April opposed a ban on same-sex marriage, but another legal step was deemed necessary.
“The judges confirmed by a majority of 6-3 that marriage between people of the same sex does not violate constitutional orders and that the current definition of the institution of marriage in civil law applies to them in the same way as it does for couples of the same sex,” presiding Judge Maria Victoria Calle told the court.
Until this ruling, the recognition of same-sex marriages was largely up to judges and notaries as a result of a June 2011 decision, when the constitutional court had asked Congress to legalise same-sex unions.
However, Congress did not pass the necessary legislation, leading to more than two and a half years of legal uncertainty among judges and notaries until this binding court order was issued telling civil registries and notaries to approve marriage licences for same-sex couples.
The ruling will be published within 10 days and the first gay couples should be able to marry shortly after that.
Latin American countries Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have legalised same-sex marriage, and it’s legal for gay couples to marry in the capital and certain states of Mexico.