The Colombia Senate on Wednesday
rejected a proposal to legalize gay marriage in the nation.
Fifty-one out of 102 senators voted
against the measure, with 17 in favor.
The defeat, however, was widely
Last week, conservative party La U
announced that it had sufficient votes to snuff out the bill.
Senator Armando Benedetti, the bill's sponsor, said after the
announcement that he held out hope the bill would pass.
Outside the chamber, hundreds of
supporters and opponents rallied in Plaza de Bolivar – much like
they did last week and again on Tuesday before Senate leaders decided
to postpone the final vote. Supporters hung a 2-story banner which
read “Igualdad Para Todos” (Equality For All) from a building
which borders the plaza.
The debate was marred by anti-gay
rhetoric, including claims by Senate President Roy Barreras that
passage of the measure would result in children being recruited.
Other speakers argued that marriage equality would hurt heterosexual
marriages and that it would lead to increasing incidence of anal
cancer in Colombia.
“Marriage as an institution, as a
sacrament, implies a union between a man and a woman with the idea of
procreating,” said Senator Carlos Ramiro Chavarro, a member of the
The comments angered Benedetti.
“They have always said that this
project goes against nature, that it goes against the foundation of
society and against God's law,” Benedetti is quoted as saying on
Monday by Reuters. “Those who vote against this project … would
have voted in favor of slavery.”
Lawmakers are working under a
court-imposed deadline of June 20. The Constitutional Court in 2011
ordered Congress to approve a law recognizing the unions of gay and
lesbian couples. It ruled that if Congress failed to act, then
notaries could begin issuing civil unions. However, it is unclear
whether the nation's notaries will act without passage of a law.