The Colombian Constitutional Court has ended uncertainty on same-sex marriage and cleared the way for same-sex couples to marry on Thursday.

The conservative Roman Catholic nation has already allowed forming civil unions. However, the apex court’s ruling will allow them for the first time to marry.

Presiding Judge Maria Victoria Calle told the court, “The judges affirmed by a majority that marriage between people of the same sex does not violate constitutional order.”

She said, “The current definition of the institution of marriage in civil law applies to them in the same way as it does for couples of the same sex.”

According to Human Rights Watch, the court had long wanted the country’s congress to settle the matter. The court asked Congress to legalise same-sex marriage in June 2011. It also stated that if the congress failed to do so in 2 years, a same-sex couple would have the right to ask for legalisation of their contractual relationship.

However, the congress did not pass legislation and there was a legal uncertainty for more than two and half years among judges and notaries. It remained a legal grey area and appeals had been launched against it, reported First Post.

José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said,  “The Colombian Congress has repeatedly failed to pass legislation that would comply with the Constitutional Court’s ruling and end arbitrary discrimination in the country’s marriage law.”

Many officials refused to register such marriages and this prompted protests from gay-rights campaigners.

On April 7, the Constitutional Court had dismissed a petition against equal marriage rights for heterosexual and homosexual couples. Consequently, the court passed the ruling on Thursday which gave gay couples the legal right to marry. The ruling is approved by 6 judges out of 9.

Marcela Sanchez, leader of the campaign group Colombia Diversa said, “Today we can say with certainty that the Colombian courts have approved equal marriage rights.”

Turnbull government has also vowed to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia a by the end of 2016.