By Zack Jenkins
In its fourth pro-equality ruling in four years, Colombia, the South American country previously known for extensive drug problems and government corruption, has officially ruled that gay couples have the same rights to public displays of affection that straight couples do.
The ruling comes after two gay men holding hands and kissing in public were told to leave a shopping mall and escorted out by a security guard in Cali, a small town outside the capital near the coast.
The judge ruled that the security guard’s actions showed “discrimination that only affected gay couples,” and was against the law.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in the country in 1981. In 2007 and 2008 Colombia’s courts ruled to give gay couples pensions, social security benefits, and property rights equal to their heterosexual countrymen. Currently, the court system is preparing to rule on the issue of gay marriage, expected to reach a decision in the summer of 2013.
Laws will continue to progress and evolve as public opinion changes. In terms of social progressivism, Latin America’s most socially progressive nations include Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. South America, as a whole, is one of the most progressive continents in the world regarding LGBT legislation.
As the country continues to grow, reduce police and government corruption, and rid itself of the drug stigma it once carried, Colombia will be expected to make social steps and continue to protect its LGBT citizens in all capacities.