Colombia: Same-Sex Union/Anti-Discrimination Bill to be discussed at the Senate

UPDATE

On April 22 the Colombian National Senate will discuss the same-sex union bill (Project 043), submitted by Senator Piedad Córdoba in cooperation with a coalition of Colombian LGBT and human rights organizations and already approved by a Senatorial Committee on October 8, 2001. Since then, the project has been under fire from right-wing and fundamentalist groups in the country. It has also received wide support from intellectuals, artists, human rights defenders and the local peace movement.

As you can see bellow, this is a very comprehensive Bill -including a uniquely comprehensive anti-discriminatory clause (explicitly protecting trans people), protections for freedom of association and the State obligation to provide anti-homophobia training at public schools. Its passing will be a turning point not just for Colombia but for LGBT communities and their allies around the world.

The coalition that is sponsoring the bill is calling for a "firmaton" (a signatures' marathon) on April 11th. Their aim is to collect via Internet the widest possible number of signatures in support of the bill and mail them to all Senators that will participate in the debate.

ACTION

On Friday, April 11th, please enter http://www.leyparejas.com and add your signature in support of the project.

Once you have entered the page, go to the section called "Notables de Colombia se pronuncian a favor del Proyecto" (Colombian Celebrities Support the Project) and click where it says "Firme usted también" (Add your signature too). You will be directed to a screen where you will be required to enter:

  • Your name (Su Nombre)
  • Email address (Su Correo Electrónico)
  • Occupation (Profesión)
  • Organization (Organización)
  • If you want your name to appear among those signing the document in support of the project, mark Yes (Sí). If not, mark No (No)
  • And then you will find a box for additional comments.
  • Click "Enviar" (Send) and you are done.

Tell your friends and colleagues to do the same. Circulate this request as widely as you can. Collect the signatures of those friends or colleagues of yours who might not have access to Internet, and enter them yourself.

Right wing and fundamentalist groups will also be collecting support against the bill. Let us show to the Colombian Senators that equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families is a human right issue that concerns all those around the world who care for justice and genuine democracy.

If you have any questions or wish to communicate with the Colombian coalition sponsoring the bill, please feel free to write to ley_parejas_colombia@yahoo.com (there are fluent English speakers among them)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Bill

Project 043 "To recognize same-sex unions, its patrimonial effects and other rights" was drafted jointly by Senator Piedad Córdoba and LGBT activists.

The current version recognizes the existence of same-sex unions and the State's duty to protect them. To enter a same-sex union both partners need to be of legal age, having lived together for at least two years and not be related by marriage or de facto union to someone else.

Unions will be registered -and also dissolved- at Notaries. Those who wish to unify their assets need to draft a separate document to that aim. Assets acquired or inherited while the union is in force, will be shared by both partners, as well as the products of joint work.

Partners entering a same-sex union will also have rights to:

  • Social security benefits on the same basis as de-facto unions
  • Inheritance rights on the same basis as de-facto unions.
  • Workplace legislation benefits
  • Make health-care related decisions when the other partner is unable to do so.
  • Mutual insurance benefits
  • Mutual alimony

Jails and prison must grant the same benefits to same-sex union partners that are currently enjoyed by straight couples.

Same-sex union partners will be included in all aspect of current legislation against domestic violence.

The Bill also includes -in its Article 8- a non-discriminatory clause, making illegal to discriminate against any person based on "their sexual identity, gender or orientation". This formulation is ground-breaking not only in Latin America but around the world for its comprehensive language that clearly includes trans people.

Article 9 affirms that the State has the duty to guarantee freedom of association among "persons of sexual orientation and gender identity that differs from that of the straight majority".

Artículo 10 mandates that the Education Ministry and its dependencies review school curricula at all levels to eliminate homophobic contents and to incorporate "clear and objective information about sexual orientation and gender identity" to the current sexual education materials. The same is required of State funded sexual and reproductive health services.

The Campaign

The coalition sponsoring the bill has organized meetings in different parts of the country, to inform the local LGBT communities and their allies about the bill's contents and to gather support for it.

Since December, the project's web page (www.leyparejas.com) has received already more than 4.000 visitors. It contains news and essays in support of the project and has become a very useful organizational and educational tool. You are welcome to visit the page to learn more about the project and the campaign.

For additional information on the Colombian Same-Sex Unions Bill, you can also visit our web page (www.iglhrc.org) to see our previous action alerts:

  • "Colombia: Urgent Support Needed for Same-Sex Unions Bill," November 11, 2002.
  • "Colombia: Senate Session Suspended, Support Bill Now," November 16, 2002.
  • "Colombia: Urgent Support Still Needed for Same Sex Union Bill", November 18, 2002.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

International human rights legislation supporting the claims made by Senator Cordoba's proposal:

  • Right to non-discrimination (Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Article 1 of the Interamerican Human Rights Convention)
  • Right to equality before the law (Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Article 24 of the Interamerican Human Rights Convention)
  • Right to own property (Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 21 of the Interamerican Human Rights Convention)
  • Right to freedom of association (Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Article 16 of the Interamerican Human Rights Convention)
  • Right to social security (Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
  • Right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of her/himself and of her/his family (Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11/12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)