[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 16 June 2007, 02:57 GMT 03:57 UK
Colombia gay rights step closer
Marcela Sanchez, head of Colombia Diversa
Marcela Sanchez said the bill "validates our relationships"
Congress in Colombia has approved a bill to grant homosexual couples the same rights to social security benefits as heterosexual couples.

If ratified by the Senate and signed by President Alvaro Uribe, it would make Colombia the first Latin American country to pass a national measure.

The bill gives equal health insurance rights and allows a surviving gay partner to inherit shared assets.

The law could take effect soon as it has President Uribe's backing.

Unified text

A few Latin American states and cities have passed gay rights laws but not a whole nation.

Marcela Sanchez, director of gay rights group Colombia Diversa, said up to 300,000 homosexual couples in Colombia could benefit after the approval.

"It validates our union before the law so we no longer have to go around lying about our relationship," she said.

The bill passed by 62-43 after a heated debate in the lower house.

A unified text, taking into account the version approved in the Senate in April, must now be agreed.

Regions passing similar bills in the mainly staunchly Catholic Latin America include Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Brazil's province of Rio Grande do Sul.

Rights for Colombia gay couples
08 Feb 07 |  Americas
Map: Gay marriage across the US
10 Nov 06 |  Americas
Canada upholds gay marriage law
08 Dec 06 |  Americas
First SA gay wedding celebrated
01 Dec 06 |  Africa
US Senate blocks gay marriage ban
07 Jun 06 |  Americas


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific