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Colombia senate blocks gay rights bill

[JURIST] The Colombian Senate [official website, in Spanish] voted 34-29 against landmark gay rights legislation Tuesday. The bill, endorsed by President Alvaro Uribe [official website in Spanish; BBC profile], was approved by the lower house [JURIST report] 62-43 last week. Many of the 102 Senators were not present Tuesday for what was expected to be a routine bloc vote, but a conservative call for a floor vote found the bill short individual supporters. Bill sponsors immediately announced plans to revisit the legislation when Congress reconvenes in July. AP has more.

The measure, opposed by the Roman Catholic church, would make Colombia the first Latin American nation to give same-sex couples who have cohabited for over a period of two years similar rights as persons in heterosexual common law marriages. It would also guarantee equal rights in areas such as welfare benefits and property inheritance, though it would not provide for same-sex marriage or adoption. In February, the Constitutional Court of Colombia [official website] invalidated a 1990 law [summary; JURIST report] creating a presumption that property held by "a man and a woman" who lived together in de facto marriage for at least two years was held in common because it did not accord the same property rights to same-sex couples as to other unmarried couples.

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