Colombia: Constitutional court held test for global marriage equality

Colombia’s top court held a day-long hearing on whether it should interpret its constitution as giving marriage rights to same-sex couples — framing the debate in a wider discussion about whether international standards now dictate that marriage equality is a fundamental right.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court weighs foreign precedent and international human rights law in its decisions. To discuss the question of marriage equality, the Court’s judges invited a broad range of international opinions, including representatives of the UN human rights office, the U.S.-based conservative legal group the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Albie Sachs, the former chief justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court who authored a 2005 marriage equality ruling.

The case concerns several questions of Colombian law but the list of participants signals that the justices see themselves as also adjudicating a question that extends beyond the country’s borders: Now that marriage equality is becoming the norm in almost all of the world’s democracies, should it be considered a fundamental right in countries that strive to meet a gold standard for human rights? And if the court concludes that this is the key question in this case, those arguing to uphold the existing marriage law appear to face an uphill battle.  Read More