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Colombia high court extends pension and health benefits to same-sex couples

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Colombia [official website, in Spanish] has held that same-sex couples should be given the same pension and health benefits as those held by opposite-sex couples. The Constitutional Court reached its decision Thursday after considering arguments presented by domestic and foreign human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch [advocacy website]. In its decision [court materials, in Spanish], the Court said that to exclude same-sex couples from receiving such benefits would undermine their fundamental right to human dignity and equal protection of the laws. The director of the Human Rights Watch Americas Division said that Colombia had "set an example" for countries in the region and that others should "follow suit."

In March 2007, the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] voted in favor of a Colombian man seeking his deceased partner's pension, but the Colombia Constitutional Court said it lacked the legal framework to implement the decision. In August 2007, multiple human rights groups challenged the relevant Colombian laws [Article 1 of Law 54/1990 and Articles 47, 74 and 163 of Law 100/1993], arguing that to deny same-sex couples these benefits would violate human rights protected by international law. Last June, the Colombian Senate voted against landmark legislation [JURIST report] that would have given same-sex couples who have cohabited for over a period of two years similar rights as persons in heterosexual common law marriages. Last February, the Constitutional Court ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex couples must be accorded the same property rights as other unmarried couples. Reuters has more.

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