Colombia's Constitutional Court said Wednesday that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to equality.

An April 2008 lawsuit supported by a number of human rights organizations sought to alleviate a series of inequalities in Colombia law.

Colombia does not offer gay marriage or civil unions for gay couples, but in 2007 the same court extended several common-law marriage benefits to gay couples. Yesterday's ruling goes farther, giving gay couples all the benefits and responsibilities enjoyed by heterosexual common-law couples.

Gay and lesbian couples can claim common-law marriage after living together for two years.

The ruling alleviates discrepancies in the areas of military pensions, social security benefits and property rights.

Several prominent lawmakers support giving more rights to gay and lesbian couples, Bogota's Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzon and prominent Senator Armando Benedetti among them, reports the Washington Post.

Colombia lawmakers have attempted to pass a civil union law in the past, but the effort collapsed under the weight of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the South American country's near universal religion.

Bogota, the nation's capital and largest city, enjoys a thriving gay nightlife and community, but homophobia in the country of 42 million remains entrenched and violence is widespread. Gay people are often called desechables, which translates to disposable people.