Uruguay’s civil unions are proving more popular with heterosexual couples than the country’s LGBT community
Data from Uruguay’s 2011 census shows that the country’s civil union scheme has been far more popular with heterosexuals than it has been for same-sex couples.
The census found that only 2,784 Uruguayans in same-sex relationships have made use of the country’s civil unions laws since they came into effect in January of 2008 compared to nearly 490,000 heterosexuals.
Most of the same-sex couples were between the ages of 20 and 54. However 56 Uruguayans between the ages of 15 and 19 were living in a same-sex civil union, as were five people between the ages of 80 and 89.
Mauricio Coitiño of the LGBT rights collective Black Sheep told the El Pais newspaper that the number of same-sex civil unions was not a good indicator of the number of LGBT people in reltionships in Uruguay, as he believed many would not have answered the question out of fear of exposing themselves to homophobia or did not feel safe enough to live together openly as a couple.
‘It is difficult to know how close to reality that figure is,’ Coitiño said.
‘We believe that there are people, especially in towns of the interior, who would not have answered that question honestly.’
Coitiño said that 98 percent of those who felt safe enough to live together openly as same-sex couples did so in urban settings.
It is unknown how many same-sex couples may have taken advantage of the civil unions scheme in the time since the census.
However in June this year a Uruguayan court found that the country should recognize the marriage of a Uruguayan who had married another man in Spain, meaning that further reform may be on the cards.