February 19, 2015 at 12:59 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Top Colombian court issues adoption ruling

Ana Elisa Liederman, Verónica Botero, gay news, Washington Blade

Ana Elisa Leiderman and Verónica Botero. (Photo by Bea Leiderman)

Colombia’s highest court on Wednesday ruled gays and lesbians can adopt in the South American country only when the child was born to their “permanent partner.”

The Colombian Constitutional Court announced on its Twitter page that “same-sex couples can only adopt when the request involves the biological child of their permanent partner.”

The tribunal has yet to release a copy of the ruling.

The Constitutional Court last August ruled Verónica Botero, a lesbian from Medellín, could adopt the two children her partner, Ana Elisa Leiderman, had through artificial insemination.

Leiderman, who entered into a civil union with Botero in Germany in 2008, petitioned the Colombian government to recognize her partner as the legal parent of the couple’s two children.

The Constitutional Court in their case ruled Botero could adopt the couple’s children because one of the women was their biological parent. The tribunal also said the couple’s sexual orientation could not be used to block the adoption.

“It just restated the ruling on our case, which permits second-parent adoption of biological children,” Leiderman told the Washington Blade in an e-mail as she discussed Wednesday’s ruling. “This has the fundamental problem of discriminating children adopted by single individuals who later form a couple and who right now would not be eligible for the protection of two adults.”

The Constitutional Court announced it’s ruling following several hours of what José Manuel Acevedo, a Colombian reporter, described on his Twitter page as an “intense debate.” An outside judge cast the tie-breaking vote because the jurists who had previously heard the case were deadlocked.

“The country demonstrated that it is mature and ready for equality,” said Mauricio Albarracín Caballero, director of Colombia Diversa, a Colombian LGBT advocacy group, in a statement. “The court consolidated the right to adopt a permanent partner’s biological child all cases. The decision nevertheless does not grant full equality with regards to second-parent adoption. The court took one step forward but leaves another one pending.”

Wilson Castañeda, director of Caribe Afirmativo, an LGBT advocacy group that works in Barranquilla and other cities throughout northern Colombia, described Wednesday’s ruling to the Blade as “an advance” in spite of his criticisms of it.

“The court warns that (a same-sex couple) can adopt only when it is the biological child of one of them,” Castañeda told the Blade. “This means the ruling restricts us to biological paternity, denying us adoptive paternity that other couples may have. And this is openly discriminatory.”

Equality for ‘all couples, families and forms of adoption’

The Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled that same-sex couples could register their relationships in two years if lawmakers did not pass a bill that would extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage.

The Colombian Senate in April 2013 overwhelmingly voted against a measure that would have allowed gays and lesbians to marry in the South American country.

A handful of same-sex couples in Bogotá, the Colombian capital, and other cities have exchanged vows since the Constitutional Court’s deadline passed in June 2013. Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado has challenged the rulings that allowed them to marry.

President Juan Manuel Santos last May during his re-election campaign publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples. An advisor to then-Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón with whom the Blade spoke during a May 2013 interview in Bogotá said the government respects both the Constitutional Court’s ruling in the marriage case and the Colombian Senate’s vote against a gay nuptials bill.

The New York City Bar Association and the Impact Litigation Project at American University Washington College of Law in D.C. last April filed briefs with the Constitutional Court in the case of two same-sex couples who challenged Ordóñez’s efforts to nullify their unions.

Colombia Diversa in its press release said “adopted children and biological children have the same rights.”

“We hope that in the near future equality will be a reality for all couples, families and forms of adoption,” said the group. “The Constitutional Court leaves this in doubt with this discrimination.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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