Colombia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that lawmakers must extend marriage rights to same-sex couples within two years.

According to the ruling, the Colombian Congress must legislate for same-sex marriage by June 20, 2013. If they fail to do same-sex couples will automatically gain the right to go to any judge or notary in the country and marry.

The country already has civil unions which provide almost all the same rights as marriage.

The decision came as the result of a case brought by gay rights group Colombia Diversa in partnership with DeJusticia legal aid and other organisations.

“This is an historic decision for equality in Colombia,” Colombia Diversa executive director Marcela Sánchez said.

Columbia’s civil unions were the result of another suit by Columbia Diversa in 2007.

The Columbian Congress has previously defeated six bills for marriage equality so it is unlikely that they will legislate before June 2013.

Colombia will join Argentina to become the second South American nation to legalise same-sex marriage if another does not do so before June 2013, and is yet another majority Catholic country to do so.

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