Buenos Aires legalizes same-sex unions

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 14 2002 1:00 AM ET

Gay rights activists hailed a new law Friday extending certain civil rights to same-sex couples in Buenos Aires, the first Latin American city to adopt such a measure.

Under the law, same-sex couples will receive health insurance and pension rights given to married spouses. The law recognizes the civil union of same-sex couples but does not term the union a marriage.

"For us, the law is the state's recognition of our right to be a couple and will allow us to access social benefits that we were excluded from," said Marcelo Sunthein, an Argentine gay rights activist.

The legislation was passed by the Buenos Aires city legislature early Friday after a lengthy debate interrupted by chants of "Get to work!" by gay rights supporters.

It was approved despite opposition from Argentina's Catholic Church, which argued city legislators had no authority in defining civil unions. The new law is the first of its kind in this predominantly Roman Catholic and conservative country.

Gay and lesbian groups described the legislation as the most far-reaching in Latin America despite their disappointment that it does not give gay couples rights to adopt children.