Colombia's constitutional court has voted to remove restrictions on same-sex adoption in a landmark decision celebrated by the LGBT community as an important step towards equality.
By a vote of six judges to two, the court ruled on Wednesday evening that no same-sex couple should be denied their right to a family.
"A person's sexual orientation or gender are not in and of themselves indicative of a lack of moral, physical or mental suitability to adopt," Maria Victoria Calle Correa, the president of the court told reporters after the vote.
Claudia Sanchez, head of the rights group Colombia Diversa, praised the decision as marking "a step to remove prejudice against gay people."
Rainbow flags flew outside the Palace of Justice in Bogota's historic district, while the hashtag #AdopcionIgualitaria, Equal Adoption, trended through the night filled with messages of support for the decision.
Many on social media also heralded the decision as good news for children needing homes, including the 4,850 children currently in state-run institutions awaiting adoption.
Wednesday's vote follows the court's decision in 2014 to allow same-sex adoption in cases where one member of the couple is the biological parent. The court is also due to debate marriage equality which was rejected by the country's congress in 2013, though same-sex couples can enter into special legal unions that provide them with similar rights.
Catholic leaders, who maintain considerable influence in Colombia, attacked the court's decision.
"We want to be the voice of the children, and they are being run over," Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba told RCN TV. "In any constitution in the world, the rights of the children prevail over the rights of the adult."
The prominent bishop also called for a referendum on the issue. Though the constitutional court's vote was reported with evident sympathy in most of the Colombian media, wider public opinion is assumed to be against adoption equality.
"The constitutional court has appropriated the power of the people and is going against 85 percent of Colombians," Senator Viviane Morales was quoted as saying in the newspaper El Espectador on Thursday.
Colombia's hardline and socially conservative inspector general Alejandro Ordoñez also criticized the ruling, saying that the "proper development" of children required "a male father and a female mother," for which he was roundly mocked on social media.
Colombia is now one of the few countries in Latin America to allow gay adoption that is also legal in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and French Guinea, as well as in some smaller entities such as Mexico City.
Follow Joe Parkin Daniels on Twitter: @joeparkdan