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Uruguay Grants
Rights to Gay Couples

Uruguay Grants
Rights to Gay Couples

Uruguay became the first Latin American country to recognize gay civil unions yesterday when President Tabare Vazquez signed a law granting legal rights to couples of any gender living together, reports Agence France-Presse.

The law states that heterosexual or homosexual couples who have lived together continuously for more than five years are allowed social benefits enjoyed by married couples, including joint property ownership and hereditary rights. The law protects "two people -- of any sex, identity, orientation or sexual option -- who maintain an emotional relationship sexual in nature, that is exclusive, stable and permanent, without being united in matrimony."

While the bill met with intense debate, the legislature approved it with a majority of the leftist ruling coalition.

Civil unions are legally recognized in certain local regions such as Mexico City; the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul; and in three jurisdictions of Argentina (the cities of Buenos Aires and Villa Carlos Paz, and Rio Negro province). But Uruguay is the first country to accept civil unions nationwide.

Uruguay's law takes effect nationally at the start of 2008. (The Advocate)

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