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Colombia and Marriage Equality

Thu 11 Feb 2016 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

Is Colombia about to become the third or fourth Latin American society to recognise civil marriage equality after Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay? Apparently so. But how did it get there? First, here's a brief country overview for Colombia itself. The Spanish arrived in 1499 and vanquished the indigenous Musica, Quimbiya and Tairona communities. What is today Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia was known as the Viceroyality of New Granada until the arrival of anti-Spanish uprisings occassioned by the Napoleonic Wars across the Atlantic, which weakened the hold of the former colonial power on its Central and South American territories, resulting in independence in 1810. Thereafter, there were several permutations of federal republican government, and the departure of Ecuador and Venezuela as separate nations (1830), leading to the declaration of the Republic of Columbia in 1886. Seventeen years later, Panama seceded, with US financial incentives to construct the Panama Canal as a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean trade routes, in 1903. Colombia was initially polarised between the two dominant Conservative and Liberal Party blocs, leading to civil war in the 1940s and 1950s, after the assassination of Liberal Presidential candidate Jorge Gaitan in 1948. Gradually, however, this died down. In 1950, Colombia became the only Latin American nation to become involved in the Korean War, alongside the United States and other western nations. The civil war led to the establishment of a military junta (1953-1957), after which the Liberal and Conservative blocs resolved their differences within a National Unity coalition government afterward. Unfortunately, several marxist and indigenous guerilla groups materialised during the sixties, most particularly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), since 1964 and have pursued a low intensity conflict against the central government in Bogota. To complicate matters still further, the illegal transnational cocaine trade took off markedly after the seventies and provided a source of revenue for opportunist right-wing paramilitary groups. Despite all this turmoil, and atrocities carried out by right-wing paramilitary militia to protect their stake in the international trade in cocaine and other illegal narcotics, Colombia has managed to return to stable government and begun to return to liberal constitutional government and meaningful social reform. Successful central government initiatives against FARC and the right-wing narcotics paramilitary groups have resulted in retrenchment of the guerilla forces since 2005 and modest economic growth, mostly fuelled by Colombia's burgeoning oil trade, which has enabled some antipoverty and social reforms. One such development was the emergence of a new constitution and a robust and independent Constitutional Court. With that out of the way, there's also the matter of Colombia's LGBT rights record to deal with. Colombia decriminalised male homosexuality in 1981, four years before New Zealand and with an equal age of consent (14!). Anti-discrimination legislation was a more drawn out process, resulting in sequential passage of legislation prohibiting anti-gay discrimination on the basis of employment (1999), goods and services (2007-8) and accommodation and other grounds (2011), all due to Constitutional Court decisions. Civil unions followed (2007), as well as same-sex parenting rights such as single-person adoption (2012), co-parent adoption of a biological parent's children (2014) and joint spousal adoption (2015). When it comes to the transgender community, a legal right to change gender identity (1993) has recently been followed by transgender military service rights and responsibilities, the right to change legal gender without psychiatric and medical evaluations and third gender designation on birth certificates (2015). Since 2011, there has been significant Congressional debate about the introduction of marriage equality proper within Colombia, which have been hampered by the conservative Colombian Senate; however, the Constitutional Court is set to rule on the subject in February 2016. In July 2015, Interior Minister Juan Cristo Fernando introduced another marriage equality bill into the federal legislature, and debate on that matter is still proceeding. Therein ends the tale, for now. Recommended: Wikipedia/LGBT rights in Colombia: LGBT_rights_in_Colombia Wikipedia/Colombia: Colombia Wikipedia/Civil unions in Colombia: unions_in_Colombia Wikipedia/Recognition of same-sex unions in Colombia: Recognition_of_same-sex_ unions_in_Colombia Craig Young - 11th February 2016    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Thursday, 11th February 2016 - 12:04pm

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