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Uruguay votes to legalize gay marriage

Uruguay votes to legalize gay marriage

Lawmakers in Uruguay have voted to legalize gay marriage, with the act expected to be passed as early as next year.

The Marriage Equality Law was passed by the country’s lower house of Congress yesterday (11 December) by 81-6 votes.

The bill now has to be debated by the Senate but is expected to be approved by the ruling coalition.

It will then be up to the presiden, José Mujicat, to sign the act into law.

Julio Bango, one of the bill’s authors, told the BBC: ‘This is not a homosexual or gay marriage law. It is a measure to equalise the institution independent of the sex of the couple.’

Álvaro Queiruga of the LGBT advocacy group Colectivo Ovejas Negras told the Washington Blade that the news was a significant step towards a more ‘democratic and just society’.

He added: ‘The LGBT population will no longer be denied an essential right such as this one.

‘We are very happy and this will empower us to continue our fight for a better Uruguay without second class citizens due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.’

Uruguay has already legalized civil unions between same-sex couples. In June 2012, the country recognized its first foreign gay marriage, sparking controversy over the fact that the country will marry foreign couples but not nationals.

The nation is the second Latin American country to allow gay marriages.

Argentina legalised same-sex marriage in 2010, while it has been legal in Mexico City since 2009.

On 5 May 2011, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court granted same-sex couples in stable partnerships the same rights as straight couples.

And on 27 June 2011, a judge in São Paulo converted for the first time a same-sex civil union into a same-sex marriage.

A resolution in the state was then passed to permit other same-sex civil unions be changed to marriage status. However, this does not hold force beyond São Paulo state.