|Alejandro Rodriguez, Manuel Bermudez and Victor Hugo Prada at their home in Medellín.|
Photograph: Courtesy of Manuel Bermudez
When a public notary in Medellín signed the paperwork last month formalising the union between Prada, Manuel Bermudez and Alejandro Rodriguez, local newspapers declared it the first three-way gay marriage.
In a legal sense however, theirs is not a marriage, according to Germán Rincon-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.”
Bermudez and Rodriguez have been together for 18 years and were the first gay male couple in Colombia to receive formal legal recognition of their partnership in 2000, 16 years before the country’s constitutional court legalised gay marriage. “Back then the issue wasn’t even debated,” says Manuel. During eight of those years they had a three-way relationship that included Alex Esneider Zabala. Four years ago, Prada joined the polyamorous relationship.
The four of them had planned a ceremony to celebrate their union. But when Zabala died three years ago after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, Prada, Bermudez and Rodriguez realised that a ceremony was not enough. “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. Rincon-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.[Read more in the original Guardian report here]