By Malissa Rogers
The gay community in Colombia celebrated a victory on Tuesday, when the First Committee of the Senate approved the first in a series of steps towards legalizing same-sex marriage in the country.
“In this country homosexuals have economic and social security rights, so it is time to advance toward marital rights,” the sponsor of the bill, Senator Armando Benedetti, said according to Colombia Politics.
A proponent of the bill, Senator Luis Carlos Avellaneda Tarazona of the Alternative Democratic Pole stated that “being gay is not a contagious disease as many want to claim” and that “equity and equality” was at stake.
However, Colombian politician Edgar Espíndola wasn’t as excited about the recent victory.
“Today in the world there are many countries where bestiality is practically a sexual preference for some, or necrophilia, or pedophilia,” Espíndola said, according to Colombian daily El Tiempo. “We can’t copy those models.”
Espíndola, a member of the Party of National Integration (PIN), released this statement after committee members voted 10 to 5 in favor of the same-sex marriage bill proposal. The recent political action regarding gay rights arrives after Colombia’s Constitutional Court ordered Congress to begin legislation regarding same-sex unions.
Some were outraged that Espíndola’s negative comments received so much attention. Colombian political analyst Claudia López tweeted: “Today’s headline is that by ten votes to five, gay marriage was approved for the first time in the Senate, not that Espíndola said another stupid thing!”
The bill is still under consideration and must go through an open debate in the Senate and, if approved, will then pass to the house. Colombia could be the next country to legalize same-sex marriage if the bill passes, and it would grant gay and lesbian couples the same marital rights under the law as heterosexual marriages.
“It’s good that they understand that this isn’t an issue of necessity,” Andrés Useche of the Collective Foundation of Gay Men said, according to El Tiempo. “It’s an issue of citizenship and rights.”