Colombia’s Constitutional Court could rule this week on the right of the country’s gay and lesbian couples to marry after putting off a decision on two previous opportunities.
But that ruling may not ultimately be the most important public policy shift this month for Colombia’s LGBTI community.
Last week, the Colombian Ministry of Interior released a draft presidential decree chronicling every major piece of legislation and court decision promoting or protecting the rights of gay Colombians to date.
The document provides broad policy recommendations for government institutions regarding LGBTI rights in what is one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks for gay rights in Colombia thus far.
“The decree, which creates procedural obligations for the National Government and territorial entities … constitutes a milestone in the search for the effective enjoyment of the rights of all,” said the Interior Ministry in a statement on Friday.
In order to coordinate diverse government entities, the document calls for creating an Intersectional Commission for the Guarantee of Rights of the LGBTI Community.
The Commission, made up of representatives from the president’s office, national ministries, the attorney general’s office and others, would help create protective guidelines and oversee policy implementation, among other responsibilities.
The decree also specifically addresses rights for LGBTI Colombians in public education, health care, prisons and as victims of the armed conflict.
Notably, the text clarifies that “national entities may not refuse to recognize that a same-sex couple can constitute a family, and in consequence, can enjoy the constitutional protections and equality of opportunities afforded other families.”
Those protections are at the heart of Colombia’s high court debate on same-sex marriage, which has been ongoing for more than a year. The nation’s LGBTI community has awaited a decision since November, when an expected ruling was put off for further discussion.
Earlier in February, the case was again included on the court’s agenda, but schedule constraints led to another delay. A ruling could finally come this week.
In November, gay couples won the right to adopt non-biological children in a separate Constitutional Court decision.
The public has until Feb. 28 to submit comments on the Ministry of Interior decree before it is handed over to the President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration for consideration.