Miguel Rueda Sáenz argues that the Irish marriage equality referendum serves as an example to the world
The recent decision in Ireland is an outstanding example of a society taking good care of all its citizens. While Colombia is going through a very interesting social, political, and economic process, however we are still far from having a referendum where people could recognise the importance of marriage equality.
I believe that, like many Latin American countries, Colombia still has a religious and hetero-normative macho culture, which means that we are afraid of social change and afraid that LGBT people could have access to social rights in the same way that heterosexual people do. Nevertheless, many of us are optimistic that our country could one day give us the same right to same-sex marriage and the social status that we all deserve.
Ireland has a reputation as a very Catholic country, like Colombia, but in terms of laws and rights they have put religion to one side and taken a step forward in terms of equality. In the final vote, 62 percent were in favour of legalising same-sex marriages, while 38 percent opposed it. Those 38 percent stood against equality – and lost the battle – while we Colombians are still waiting.
This is not a favour that we are asking for; it is a matter of rights. It is a matter of being able to access our country fully, like everybody else can. I am pleased to think that we are getting there, but our fight is far from finished. We believe in our country, although sometimes we lose our faith in it. There can be no doubt that Colombia is full of contrasts.
We see these contrasts in the debates between politicians in congress. It is as if we are living at the same time, with the same people, but in two different periods of world history. Some of them openly insult LGBT people, while others pour their souls into speeches defending our rights and making our voices heard through theirs. It is a relief to know that we are not alone.
This is the time for social change. Not in one year, not in ten, but now. My voice is just one voice that keeps fighting for the right to love and to be part of history.
Miguel Rueda Sáenz is an LGBT academic and social activist, a researcher and lecturer at Universidad Los Andes, and the CEO of Pink Consultores.
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