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Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos backs marriage equality as country votes

President Juan Manuel Santos has announced his support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colombia as he faces a runoff election with a right wing opponent
President Santos with Hillary Clinton in 2010
Photo by US State Department

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos is hoping announcing his support for same-sex couples being allowed to legally wed will motivate progressive voters as he faces a run off election against right wing candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.

Colombians voted over the weekend but there was a poor voter turnout of only 40% and the election produced no clear winner but Zuluaga and Santos were the two strongest candidates.

As a result there will be another election in June where voters will get to choose between the two.

On the eve of the election in a Google Hangout with potential voters Santos said, ‘Marriage between homosexuals seems to me perfectly acceptable, and what’s more I defend unions between two people of the same sex with the same rights and all the same privileges that this union should have.’

However he then wavered on that line slightly.

‘Whether this union is called marriage or not for me is secondary — for me, what is important is that they have their rights.’

Santos’ comments, while ambiguous, are an evolution on the platform he took to the 2010 presidential election where he opposed same-sex marriage.

Two of the other candidates for the presidency, Enrique Peñalosa of the Greens Alliance and Clara López of the socialist Democratic Alternative Pole party support marriage equality and Santos will hope to draw votes from their supporters when voters return to the polls on 15 June.

Colombian same-sex couples have been able to marry through the courts since October last year after lawmakers failed to act on a July 2011 Constitutional Court ruling ordering them to legalize same-sex marriage by June of last year but legislation on the issue would remove hurdles that are not faced by heterosexual couples.

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