Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
has endorsed allowing gay couples to marry.
The 62-year-old Santos, in office since
2010, is campaigning to keep his job.
“Marriage between homosexuals to me
is perfectly acceptable and what’s more I am defending unions that
exist between two people of the same sex with the rights and all of
the same privileges that this union should receive,” said Santos
May 20 Google hangout hosted by Colombian daily El Tiempo.
“If these unions are called marriage or not is secondary to me. For
me it is important that they have their rights.”
In a candidate questionnaire published
May 15 by the Colombian LGBT rights advocacy group Colombia Diversa,
Santos said he supports a 2011 ruling recognizing the relationships
of gay and lesbian couples.
“This government – and is also my
personal conviction – supports the decisions of the Constitutional
Court in terms of inheritance rights and recognition of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” he said. “We are and
will be respectful of the judicial rulings and the independence of
the branches of public power.”
While the court ruled in favor of gay
couples seeking the right to marry, it left implementation up to
lawmakers, giving them 2 years to approve legislation. However,
Colombian lawmakers failed to act before the court's June, 2013
Citing the ruling's stipulation that if
lawmakers do not meet the deadline gay couples can “go to a notary
and with the same solemnity of a heterosexual marriage enter a union
similar to one between a heterosexual couple,” a handful of couples
were allowed to marry. Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez Maldonado
has sued to invalidate the unions.
Santos faces Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, a
former finance minister, in a June 15 runoff. Zuluaga told Colombia
Diversa that he does not support “marriage between partners of the
same sex, nor adoption,” but agrees with “a legal framework that
respects inheritance rights, civil rights and social security for