Colombia's Constitutional Court on
Tuesday mandated the legal recognition of gay couples.
A majority of the 9-judge panel agreed
that gay and lesbian couples have the right to form a family and gave
Congress two years to legislate on gay unions, Bogota-based
“If by the 20th of July,
2013 Congress has not acted, 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,” said Judge Juan Carlos
Henao, the court's president.
Whether the ruling means full marriage
for gay couples remains to be seen.
“The name of the institution, be it
civil marriage or otherwise, will be up to Congress,” the court
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops
last week urged the court to uphold Colombia's current law that
restricts marriage to heterosexual couples.
Last year, Argentina became the first
Latin American country to approve marriage equality. Gay and lesbian
couples can also marry in the city-state of Mexico City. Mexico's
highest court has ruled that all states must recognize the marriages
of gay couples originating from Mexico City.