Thursday, April 26, 2007

Colombia: Gay rights grow (and a note on Latin American LGBT rights coverage)

A decade ago there was hardly any consistent coverage in the United States of gay rights advances in Latin America, aside, perhaps from Rex Wockner's International News syndicated column (that's the blabbeador and el Rex a couple of years back).

Not that there weren't any good news coming from the region, just that most of what got reported were human rights abuses against the LGBT community as related by organizations such as Amnesty International.

Still, local activists were hard at work laying the ground for some of the stunning gay rights advances that have turned some heads as of late.

Just this week alone there have been interesting developments in Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Chile that pertain to same-sex partnership rights that I wish I could have a bit more time to discuss here (that may come later this weekend).

Increasingly, though, I don't even have to do the work as more stories come out in English-language press.

Case in point, this morning's San Francisco Chronicle story on what's been going on in my home country of Colombia (as we have tried to keep abreast in the past):
Some Colombian LGBT rights advocates see this as a bitter-sweet but historic moment. Passage of the bill discussed in the article would not grant civil union protections to same-sex couples in the country, just "patrimony rights" - but there are upcoming battles ahead that might gain some traction and require the government to expand on those rights.

Others bemoan that it gives an opportunity to conservative president Alvaro Uribe to gloat that his administration has been great on LGBT rights when, in the past he has indicated he would block more comprehensive legislation. This, even as some leading left-wing LGBT rights advocates have been driven out of Colombia due to death threats and attempts on their lives as has been the case with Manuel Antonio Velandia who blogs for the national weekly Semana and was the first person to appear on the cover of another newsweekly, Cambio, as an openly gay person.

As a matter of fact, Alvaro Araujo, the conservative Senator that introduced the "patrimony" bill that was successfully adopted last year by the Colombian senate is among several senators being investigated for alleged ties to right-wing paramilitary forces. A scandal that has sometimes threatened to derail President Uribe's immense popularity as it gets closer to his office.

So a bittersweet moment it will be but a historic moment nevertheless.

2 comments:

POLAR said...

Alguna vez lei en Boston que en Colombia es posible vivir con un "partner" foraneo.

Que sabes tu de eso?

Andrés Duque said...

Can an undocumented partner gain immigration rights through his/her naturalized same-sex partner in Colombia? No. A Colombian-Canadian couple living in San Andres went to court a few years back to ask that the Canadian man be granted immigration rights but abandoned their attempt when they were harrassed and threatened.

They have since moved to Canada and, to my knowledge, are still awaiting to see if Canada will grant the Colombian man immigration rights though - last I heard - he was under deportation orders.