Last night Colombia's Constitutional Court, in a 7-2 vote, said that a person with social security benefits could provide access to those benefits - including health insurance benefits - to their same-sex partner. All that is required is to register the partnership as a union in a notary and then apply for the benefits, according to El Tiempo (Semana magazine also has an extensive online article here).
Renown Colombian gay rights advocate Manuel Velandia Mora, writes in AG Magazine that couples can start registering their partners as soon as today and that no health service provider can turn down a valid petition for coverage. Leading gay rights organization Colombia Diversa has more information, in Spanish, here.
El Tiempo says that the court said that to deny access to social security benefits to same-sex partners would violate their right to dignified life and promoted an "absolute lack of protection for couples of the same sex."
In February, the court had already ruled in favor of granting "patrimony" rights to same-sex couples in Colombia.
Slowly but surely, the courts in Colombia are bestowing equal rights to same-sex partners even as the legislature has sought to block the recognition of same-sex partnership rights (you might remember that a small conservative legislative block used a last minute manoeuvre to sink a landmark same-sex partnership bill in June that seemed destined to become law).
Coincidentally, on Tuesday El Tiempo also reported that a new effort to secure passage of a similar bill in the current legislative session also overcame its first test when it passed a first vote in a congressional committee unanimously. It now awaits three more debates before it can be signed into law, if approved by the different legislative bodies.
UPDATE: Reuters has the story in English and interviews my friend Virgilio Barco.
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