Friday, June 14, 2019
For more than 10 years Manuel Jose Bermudez, Jhon Alejandro Rodriguez and Alex Zabala maintained a polyamorous relationship. Shortly before Alex died, that three way polyamorous relationship became a four way polyamorous relationship when another man, Victor Prada joined the relationship.
When Alex Zabala died in 2014, the question became who would become his survivor for the purposes of his pension. Last week the Superior Court of Medellin, in Colombia in what appears to be a world first, recognised Manuel Bermudez and Jhon Rodriguez as the survivors.
The Court said that the union between Manuel, Jhon and Alex was a “polyamorous relationship that has the components of permanence in community, implies the coupling of an identity as a family that is based on the common search for means of subsistence, and mutual company or a moral support.”
“From this perspective, the union constitutes a family constitutionally protected modality, holder of the prerogatives, rights and duties that the constitution and the law recognise to the family, as a fundamental nucleus of society, and as beneficiaries of the pension of survivors in charge of the general pension system,” the Court said.
Clarin.com reports that Manuel said from his Facebook account:
“Survivors pension is an acquired right. But above all it is the recognition, the worthy memory, of those who love and loved us for ten years of their lives. Thanks to those who on the subject speak, think and decide injustice.”
The time that Victor Prada was in the relationship was not enough that he would be considered to be a survivor for the purposes of the pension.
Manuel, John and Victor were in the news in 2017 for being the first marriage between three men in Colombia. This was the decision that they made in view of the problems they had concerning Alex’s entitlements with the pension fund.
Just as in Colombia, polyamorous relationships in Australia are on the rise. While not common, anecdotal reports indicate that polyamorous relationships are becoming more common, particularly in the LGBTI community. It is unlikely that the same outcome would have occurred in Australia, given that there are no constitutional protections for who constitutes a family. Careful estate planning would need to be undertaken in such circumstances, to ensure that the survivors are able to inherit.
The last words belong to Manuel:
“At first, people look with strangeness at a relationship like this, but as we are open and respond openly, very quickly they go to the respect and understand that we are a traditional family in many aspects, common and current, nothing extraordinary happens here.”