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'I Decided To Speak' - An American's Fight For Gay Adoption Rights In Colombia

EL TIEMPO (Colombia)

BOGOTA - For the first time in the country's history, a top Colombian court has awarded adoption rights to a homosexual man. The court made the landmark decision Tuesday, allowing American journalist Chandler Burr to leave Colombia with two boys – aged 10 and 13 – he legally adopted there in early 2011.

During the original two-year adoption process, Burr never mentioned that he is gay. He let it slip, however, just as he was getting ready to depart the country last year with his newly adopted sons. Colombia's Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) intervened at that point to prevent Burr from taking the two boys out of the country.

In an exclusive interview with El Tiempo, Burr explains why he kept quiet about his sexual orientation: "I'm not stupid. I know that in Colombia, like in a lot of places around the world, people have their prejudices."

He also recounted what happened when he finally did mention that he was gay. "When everything was ready, one day before traveling with my sons, I decided to speak with an official from the ICBF," he says. "I told her that the situation was terrible for many people like me who wanted to adopt children in Colombia but couldn't because of their sexual orientation."

"She reacted really badly and blocked me from traveling with the boys," Burr adds. "She accused me of hiding information, even though no one ever asked me about my sexual orientation."

The boys are now in New York City, where Burr – who is single - works as a curator for the Museum of Art and Design. His Colombian sons had been abandoned by their birth parents.

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