Colombia’s top court held a day-long hearing on Thursday on whether it should interpret its constitution as giving marriage rights to same-sex couples — framing the debate in a wider discussion about whether international standards now dictate that marriage equality is a fundamental right. The hearing comes five weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow marriage equality, in a move that reverberated around the world. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Colombia’s Constitutional Court weighs foreign precedent and international human rights law in its decisions. To discuss the question of marriage equality in Thursday’s debate, the Court’s judges invited a broad range of international opinions, including representatives of the United Nations’ human rights office, the U.S.-based conservative legal group the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Albie Sachs, the former chief justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court who authored a 2005 marriage equality ruling.A decision is expected by the end of the summer.
RELATED: Elsewhere in South America same-sex marriage is legal in Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana, and Uruguay. Civil unions are legal in Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador. A same-sex marriage lawsuit is pending before the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Homosexual acts remain illegal in Guyana, but nowhere else on the continent.