An upcoming ceremony will celebrate the legalised union of three men and will be the first of its kind in Colombia – and possibly the world.
Alejandro Rodriguez, Victor Hugo Prada and Manuel Bermudez are about to become the first three men in Colombia to have a legally recognized polyamorous relationship.
In a legal sense however, their arrangement cannot technically be considered a marriage, according to Germán Rincón-Perfetti – the lawyer who drew up the document.
“By Colombian law a marriage is between two people, so we had to come up with a new word: a special patrimonial union.”
The document states that the three of them constitute a family and are each others’ legal partners.
“We are not three friends living together. We are a family, a trieja,” says Prada, using the Spanish version of the term “throuple”, which indicates a stable relationship between three individuals.
“We were already a family before this. The paperwork just formalised it.”
The throuple may be the only legally recognised gay male threesome in the world, though there is a history of symbolic commitment ceremonies for threesomes, such as a trio of gay men who married in Thailand. Their union was not recognised by the Thai government, nor was the marriage of three women in a lesbian throuple in Massachusetts.
In 2015, Colombia granted same-sex couples the same adoption rights as heterosexuals, and in April last year their constitutional court approved marriage equality– making Colombia the fourth South American country to definitively legalise same-sex marriage, after Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Rodriguez and Bermudez, who have been together for 18 years, were the first gay male couple in Colombia to receive formal legal recognition of their partnership in 2000, 16 years before the country legalised same-sex marriage.
For eight years, they had a polyamorous relationship with a man named Alex Esneider Zabala, who passed away three years ago from stomach cancer. Prada had joined the threesome as a fourth the year before Zabala died.
The men say that the four of them had originally planned a ceremony to celebrate their union as a foursome. But after Zabala’s death, Bermudez and Rodriguez and Prada realised that a ceremony was not enough and it pushed them to take the further step of getting it in writing.
“As much as we considered ourselves a family, we had to fight hard to be recognised as Alex’s partners when he died,” says Bermudez.
The surviving three sought to formalise their relationship through legal means. Rincón-Perfetti, who drew up the paperwork 17 years ago to seal Bermudez and Rodriguez’s union, offered to help. He knows of no other case in the world where a polyamorous relationship between three men has been granted legal recognition.
“There are a lot of throuples but it is completely clandestine,” says Rincón-Perfetti. He said he expects other polyamorous partnerships to seek the same legal status after the media attention on Prada, Bermudez and Rodriguez’s union.
Bermudez and Rodriguez have celebrated their 18-year bilateral partnership in several different ceremonies over the years. But for Prada, who is the youngest at 23, the three-way ceremony will be his first and he wants it to be special.
“We want to make what’s intimate, public,” he says. “We have no reason to hide it.”
“We are just helping people realise that there are different types of love and different types of family.”
He continues, “We wanted to validate our household… and our rights, because we had no solid legal basis establishing us as a family.”