THE COURT RECOGNIZED MARITAL UNION AND PROPERTY RIGHTS OF SAME-SEX COUPLES IN COLOMBIA
Judges: Jaime Córdoba Triviño (separate opinion), Jaime Araújo Rentería (dissenting), Nilson Pinilla Pinilla (separate opinion), Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa, Humberto Antonio Sierra Porto, Rodrigo Escobar Gil (wrote the opinion), Álvaro Tafur Galvis, Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra (separate opinion), Clara Inés Vargas Hernández.
This decision was issued despite the fact that within the ruling sectors of Colombian society as well as in public opinion there is a strong opposition to legal recognition of the LGBT community as being entitled to human rights. Congress had rejected all bills regarding the rights of same sex couples.
Additionally, there is high discrimination and marginalization of LGBT persons. For example, a 2008 study from Bogotá's Mayor's Office showed that 55% of persons interviewed dislike having homosexual neighbors. Both public figures and high ranking officials have made homophobic and discriminatory statements.
This decision recognized the rights of same sex couples.
On February 7, 2007, the Court stated that Colombia’s laws regulating de facto marital union had to include same sex couples. This was the first time that the rights of same sex couples were legally recognized, after a 40-year struggle by LGBT persons, groups and organizations.
This decision implies a transcendental change in the Court's case law, which previously had only recognized the need for protection from discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation, and had refused to recognize same sex couples stating that the only protected type of family was heterosexual. Previous to this decision only individual rights of homosexual persons were protected but not when it related to rights derived from cohabitating as a couple.
Decision C-075 opened the door to several more decisions acknowledging the human rights of LGBT persons
The decision referred to two articles of Act 54/90, which regulates de facto marital unions and their joint property. This law is the basis for many other laws, which means that many doors were open for later decisions that made same sex couple rights analogous to those of heterosexual couples; it was thanks to this decision that those new decisions have been possible.
The decision was a relief for LGBT couples
It is estimated that about 300,000 couples in Colombia are potential beneficiaries of both decision C-075 and the decisions issued later. Even though there are no statistics about the impact of this decision, a year later, the media highlighted its benefits and scope not only with respect to same sex couples themselves, but in terms of changing a homophobic culture.
The decision was the result of a lawsuit filed by NGO Colombia Diversa and the Public Interest Law Group of the University of Los Andes, regarding the constitutionality of the phrase “man and woman” in articles 1 and 2 of Act 54/90, which regulates de facto marital unions and their property rights.