Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Court in Colombia orders survivor's pension paid to male partner of Catholic priest


It was a hidden love. They kept it secret for almost 40 years. But after the death of the one, the other decided to come out to tell all and claim his rights. The gay partner of a priest is demanding that the Colombian government pay him a pension. That country's Constitutional Court has agreed with him.

The man, whose identity has been witheld by court order, was the priest's partner for 28 years. In 2009, the priest died and "Pedro" -- as the Colombian media has been calling him -- began steps to be able to receive the pension like any other widower. But the Social Security Institute refused to pay, alleging that the priest could not have a partner because he should have been keeping his chastity vow. However, the Court rejected that argument and ordered payment of the pension.

"Here the take-away is telling couples in the Roman Catholic Church that they also have rights and to demand them because we are in a country where democracy is important and the religious issue is separate, of no interest, since Colombia is a secular country," said attorney Germán Rincón, who is defending the priest's partner.

"The fact taht there's a couple relationship between a priest and a civilian doesn't mean that there aren't any rights," Rincón added.

"Hence this wider concept of family should be compatible with the consitutional prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or choice," the lawyer explained.

For the high court, relegating homosexuals to second class citizenship isn't democratic.

Although since 2007 Colombian law has recognized the property, health and pension rights of same sex couples, regardless of their social or religious condition, it's the first time that a pension has been granted to a homosexual couple that includes a priest.

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