The Colombian Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled gays and lesbians in the South American country can legally adopt the biological children of their same-sex partners.
El Tiempo, a Colombian newspaper, reported the judges in a 6-3 decision said gays and lesbians can legally adopt the child of their same-sex partner if he or she is their biological parent. The ruling also stipulates the petitioner must receive permission from the Colombian authorities before they seek to adopt their partner’s child.
Agence France Presse reported same-sex couples must also live together for at least two years.
The historic decision comes in the case of Verónica Botero and Ana Elisa Leiderman, a lesbian couple from Medellín who entered into a civil union in Germany in 2008.
Leiderman petitioned the Colombian government to recognize Botero as the legal parent of the two children to whom she gave birth through artificial insemination.
Mauricio Albarracín Caballero, executive director of Colombia Diversa, a Colombian LGBT advocacy group, welcomed the ruling.
“Lesbian mothers and all same-sex partners with children are protected with the decision,” he said on Twitter.
— Mauricio Albarracin (@malbarracin) August 28, 2014
Lesbian Colombian Congresswoman Angélica Lozano tweeted the court has “opened the road to equality.”
Hunter T. Carter, a New York-based lawyer who filed a brief in support of Leiderman and Botero and their children on behalf of the New York City Bar Association, told the Washington Blade he is “personally thrilled for what this means to these four very special souls.”
“This is a major advance for LGBT rights and the rights of same-sex couples in Latin America,” said Carter. “The court appears to have based its decision on science, not prejudice, and to have scrutinized and rejected the myth that children do not fare just as well with same sex parents. It does however appear that there are some unfortunate restrictions in the ruling, for example that the ruling only applies to partners of the biological parent of the child in question, so the more than 700,000 abandoned Colombian children who need to be adopted have to continue to wait for opposite sex couples who so far haven’t shown up to do so.”
The Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled same-sex couples in the South American country could legally register their relationships within two years if Colombian lawmakers failed to extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage.
The June 20, 2013, deadline passed amid lingering confusion as to whether gays and lesbians could legally marry in Colombia.
A handful of same-sex couples have married since last July, but Colombian Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado and social conservatives have sought to challenge them.
The Impact Litigation Project at American University Washington College of Law in D.C. and the New York City Bar Association in April filed briefs with the Constitutional Court in a case filed by two gay couples challenging Ordóñez’s efforts to nullify their marriages.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in May publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples ahead of the country’s presidential election.