Thursday, April 17, 2008

Colombia: Same-sex partners get pension rights

First came a Constitutional Court ruling allowing same-sex couples in long-term relationships to shared assets similar to rights already enjoyed by married heterosexual couples (February 2007).

Then came a second ruling by the same court granting
social security rights to same-sex couples, including health benefits (October 2007).

Today comes word that the court has determined that same-sex partners in Colombia should also be granted the right to enroll in pension rights similar to those of married straight couples ("Same-sex couples do have the right to pensions, ruled the Constitutional Court," El Tiempo).

The Procurator General's Office had previously submitted a statement on behalf of pension rights for same-sex couples stating that last year's rulings and the creation of the common law partnership registries "opened the possibility to interpret the notion of permanent partners in the sense that they include same-sex couples for all the judicial regulations that use that notion to confer benefits to unmarried couples."

The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations had already declared that Colombia had erred in not recognizing the right of a man whose same-sex partner had died access to his pension benefits and ordered the country to pay the man $150 million pesos (approx. U$72,000 at that time).

This is yet another incredible victory by the Colombian LGBT rights organization,
Colombia Diversa which worked with the Public Interest Group at the University of Los Andes in Bogota to bring the issue to the Court and emerge victorious.

Interestingly, while the judicial branch has been taking huge steps in the recognition of same-sex partnerships in Colombia, a bill establishing some of the same rights now granted by the country's top court has been blocked legislatively by a small number of conservative legislators in the Colombian congress.

  • Human Rights Watch's take in the ruling is available here
  • Here is Colombia Diversa's Marcela Sanchez explaining today's ruling (in Spanish):

Previously on Blabbeando:

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