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.
takes effect nationally at the start of 2008. (The