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Colombia court allows lesbian adoption

Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that a lesbian woman could adopt her long-time partner's daughter, though the ruling does not apply to gay adoption in all circumstances.

Ana Leiderman appealed to the court to let her partner, Veronica Botero, adopt her biological daughter after the Colombian Family Well-being Institute rejected Botero's adoption application.

With six votes for and three abstentions, the court ruled that Leiderman, who underwent artificial insemination to conceive her daughter and raised her together with Botero, had the right to request an adoption by her partner regardless of sex.

"The court considered that the discriminatory criterion the administrative authority had used to deny the adoption procedure... was unacceptable in this case, which involves a consensual adoption in which the biological father or mother consents to an adoption by his or her permanent partner," said chief justice Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva.

The ruling sets a precedent for all similar cases in the South American country, but will not apply to gay couples seeking to adopt if neither person is the child's biological parent.

Even couples covered by the ruling will have to meet certain conditions, such as having lived together for at least two years.

Leiderman and Botero first applied for the adoption five years ago.

When their application was rejected, they took the matter to court, winning two previous decisions as the attorney general's office appealed the case all the way to the country's highest court for constitutional matters.

Before the ruling, Leiderman had told AFP she wanted to be able to share decision-making on her daughter's health care and education with Botero.

"It's hard to be a single mom, and they're forcing me to do it," she said in an interview.

"We don't need anyone's permission to be a family, but we want to have that piece of paper."

Colombia's Constitutional Court has slowly expanded the list of rights afforded to homosexual couples in recent years.

In 2007, it recognized de facto unions for gay couples and granted them joint health insurance coverage.

In 2008 it granted them shared pension rights, and in 2009 it ruled they were also entitled to inheritance rights.

lda/jhb/rcw

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