X v. Colombia

Comm. No. 1361/2005, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/89/D/1361/2005 (2007)

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X v. Colombia

Human Rights Committee
Comm. No. 1361/2005, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/89/D/1361/2005 (2007)

Facts

X (plaintiff) was a homosexual male who lived with his male life partner for seven years prior to his partner’s death. When his partner died, X was not able to collect his partner’s pension benefits because he was the same sex as his partner. X filed a complaint alleging that he had experienced discrimination because of his sex and his sexual orientation in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the covenant). X alleged a violation of Article 3, stating that if a female had sought the pension benefits of her deceased male partner, the benefits would have been granted. However, X did not allege that discrimination occurred if a homosexual female sought the pension benefits of her deceased female partner, a circumstance similar to his own. For this reason, this aspect of X’s claim was not substantiated and was inadmissible. X also claimed a violation of Article 26, which prohibited discrimination. Colombia (defendant) argued that de facto marital unions that formed a family were acknowledged under the law to ensure protection and equal rights between men and women. Colombia argued that the law regarding pension transfers was not drafted based simply on two people living together, because there were all sorts of people who lived together who might or might not have had sexual or emotional connections that raised an obligation on a state to establish rights to benefits similar to the rights under law at hand. Colombia also noted that there was no recognition of civil-law unions between same-sex couples. Colombia explained that the definition of de facto marital union described the need to acknowledge and safeguard a group who were previously discriminated against, but it did not create an unconstitutional privilege, and Colombia argued that the purpose of the law was to protect heterosexual unions and not to cause harm to any other unions. The Human Rights Committee (the committee) had previously upheld distinctions in benefit entitlements between married and unmarried heterosexual couples.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (Amor, Khalil, J.J.)

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