Constitutional court rules 6-2 in favour of same-sex adoption.
“A person’s sexual orientation or gender are not in and of themselves indicative of a lack of moral, physical or mental stability to adopt.”
– Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Maria Victoria Calle Correa
“In the case of adoption, personal conviction should override the sentence, agreeing or not with it.”
– Former President, Álvaro Uribe
An historic decision means that adoption agencies can no longer discriminate against same-sex couples when they are applying to adopt.
On November 4, the constitutional court ruled 6-2 to approve unrestricted adoption.
The decision was the result of a lawsuit brought by Professor Sergio Estrada, an academic from the University of Medellín. He argued that by not allowing same-sex adoption, the state was reducing the rights of children to a home.
The court statement said that excluding same-sex couples from adoption “limits children’s right to a family”. Magistrates arguing in favour of the change said that scientific studies have shown that adoption by same-sex couples “doesn’t affect the development of the children”.
According to Mauricio Albarracín, researcher at Dejusticia and former director of Colombia Diversa, one of the country’s leading LGBT rights organisations, the decision is the result of a long campaign.
“It was a struggle of many years. Families, activists, organisations and judges worked a lot for this success. The court fulfilled the promise of equality from the constitution.”
“For Colombia this change is the result of the continuity of a process that started with the constitution of 1991. The court took a decision based on justice and the best arguments.” he added.
In 2011, the court recognised households with same-sex parents as families.
Then in 2012 a court ruled that a homosexual US citizen, Chandler Burr, could leave the country with his two adopted sons. The case had caused some controversy, after authorities tried to revoke their initial adoption decision, claiming he should have disclosed his sexual orientation when he applied.
Joint adoption by same-sex couples was tentatively approved in 2014, with the restriction that the child had to be biologically related to one of the partners.
Members of President Juan Manuel Santos’ government have voiced their support for both gay marriage and adoption with Minister of Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo, stating that “We will not submit rights issues to the will of the majority. The respect of rights is not optional.”
However, some have opposed the decision. Former president Álvaro Uribe took to twitter to voice his discontent saying, “Bad examples to children can make normal an abnormal tendency of promiscuity.”
He has also said “In the case of adoption, personal conviction should override the sentence, agreeing or not with it.”
Another detractor, senator Vivian Morales of the Liberal Party who has consistently opposed LGBT rights said, “They acted in the name of the people, but defied what 85% of Colombians think.”
Senator Morales is amongst those who believe that it should be up to congress to decide whether to change the law. Opponents have stated they will challenge the ruling.
However, Albarracin is optimistic that this is another step towards equality.
“It is very probable that in the coming weeks the court will study the case of marriage equality and the precedent is clear: you can’t discriminate against the families and people of different sexual orientations. We hope that the promise of equality will be fulfilled completely.”
By Daniel Steel