Tag Archives: Colombia

Colombia Becomes 4th Latin American Country To Legalises Same Sex Marriage

Colombia’s top court has finally legalised same-sex marriage across the country.

Same-sex couples were already allowed to form civil partnerships, but a ruling this week extends them the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.


Earlier this month the constitutional court dismissed a judge’s petition against equal marriage rights for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

This make Colombia the fourth in Latin America to do so. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have previously legalised same-sex marriage.

Argentina was the first Latin American country to take the step in July 2010.

In Mexico, gay marriage is legal in the capital and in certain states.

Peru’s Rights Plan Excludes All Sexual Minorities

Peru has made slow progress in the field of gay rights, and has lagged behind its neighbors in bringing recognition and equality to sexual minorities. Its bordering states Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia all recognize gay unions or marriage equality. With Chile and Bolivia, all have policies protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the provision of services, and all include queers in hate-crime legislation. Of that group, Brazil alone doesn’t protect against LGBT employment discrimination, yet Peru has had none of these progresses.

Peru remains an island where marriage, civil unions, discrimination protection, and hate-crime protection are reserved for heterosexuals.

The Peruvian debate has been characterized by a brinkmanship between a government unable to reach consensus enough to explicitly include sexual minorities in legislation, and activist groups who see claims that protection can be extended without it as insufficient if not outright insincere.

Early this month the Peruvian federal government led by President Ollanta Humala passed National Human Rights Action Plan of 2014-2016. Complaints quickly arose that LGBT people and groups were excluded from the Plan’s protection. Last week the Minister of Justice, Daniel Figallo, responded to those complaints insisting that LGBT people are included as he called on groups and populations to work against discrimination individually as well.

“No one has been excluded. The country’s main problem is discrimination; there is widespread discrimination at various levels, and we are working against it. Those positions indicating an exclusion are incorrect.”

Daniel Figallo, Minister of Justice

Still, despite his insistence that the Plan implicitly includes sexual minorities, the Plan fails to mention them in any direct way.
Unsurprisingly, rights groups have been unsatisfied with this response. They see this as another in a long line of failures on behalf of the Humala administration to extend the protections of the state to all groups.

In 2013 a hate-crime bill that would have extended protections to queer communities was rejected by a majority coalition of the Gana Peru and Fuerza Popular parties. The same parties blocked a consensus on a following civil-unions law, and the debate was postponed and never revived.

In June of this year the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a resolution regarding “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression” that included language agreeing to support anti-discrimination legislation and hate-crime recognition, and to avoid interfering in the private lives of LGBT individuals. While Peru signed the resolution, action has yet to be taken toward anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws for LGBT people.

During the debate on the Human Rights Plan 2014-2016, eighteen proposals regarding the LGBT community were rejected or edited before all were ultimately removed.

Conscription is Discrimination – Trans Woman Questions Colombia’s Constitutional Law

A case was opened by the Constitutional Court of Colombia last week questioning whether military service requirements in the country discriminate against trans citizens.

Trans woman Grace Kely of capital city Bogota was denied employment as a nurse by the municipality government when she was unable to present a military service card. Kely was encouraged to apply to the nursing position last summer by the City’s subdirector of LGBT affairs, Juan Florian, but her application was suspended. She claims that, because of the social and institutional exclusion she may face in the military, she should be allowed to work without meeting the national conscription requirement.

She brought her case to the LGBT Affairs department of the Ministry of Social Integration claiming the requirement violates her right to work, right to privacy, and right to live without humiliation. After a month her case was rejected by lower courts arguing no infringement took place and that compulsory military service is a priority — no exceptions.

By this point the case had gained the attention and support of LGBT organizations. The National Transgender Community Network , activist group Diverse Colombia, and others joined a Social Integration Ministry ombudsman in submitting briefs to the court arguing the specific intolerance and potential rights infringements faced by queer service men and women, and the severe conditions faced by the trans community in particular.

The argument against the requirement goes that transgendered people face not only the social exclusion, discrimination, and abuse of the military culture, but are also subject to institutional discrimination. The military in Colombia still assigns uniforms and identification based on birth gender, creating a constant reminder of the otherness of a different gender identity. Furthermore, certain procedures such as nude public medical examinations create other opportunities for discrimination.

The City supports Kely’s case as well. Gustavo Petro, the Mayor of Bogota, filed a concept with the court referring to a 2011 study on sexual diversity finding 98% of queer people have faced discrimination. It also found a higher likelihood of discrimination amongst transgender people.

The military in Colombia began to allow LGBT servicemen and women in 1999 after a ruling by the high court. However, that ruling still allowed for military leadership to expel someone from service for moral or social disruption or indiscretion, which has since been used against open homosexuality, creating a de facto “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation where LGBT people can still be targeted.

Military conscription in Colombia mandates that only volunteers can be involved in armed combat. Average conscripted citizens generally serve in functional and administrative positions. The policy has been continuingly controversial and is an ongoing topic of discussion in political spheres, potentially leading to the courts willingness to take the case