Thursday, April 11, 2013

Uruguayan Congress Approves Gay Marriage Bill

Uruguayan legislators overwhelmingly backed a proposal legalizing same-sex marriages and, as a result, may soon become the second Latin American country to permit such a practice.

The proposal was backed by 71 of 92 members of the lower house of Congress on Wednesday in a vote held days after the Senate approved the bill by a 23-8 vote.  It is expected to be signed into law within two weeks by President Jose Mujica.

"I agree that family is the basis of society but I also believe that love is the basis of family. And love is neither homosexual nor heterosexual," said opposition lawmaker Fernando Amado of the center-right Colorado Party according to Reuters.

Aside from permitting gay marriages, the Marriage Equality Law grants rights to same-sex couples that had formerly given exclusively to heterosexuals.   Under the proposal gay couples have the chance to choose the order of the surnames of the children they adopt and also permits those in same-sex relationships to undergo in-vitro fertilization procedures.

The plan further updates the 101-year-old law on divorce and increases the age of consent for sexual relations to 16 from the current 12 years old for girls and 14 for boys.

The plan was opposed by conservative elements including a few opposition legislators who voted against the proposal. Uruguay's Roman Catholic Church reportedly claimed that marriage equality is "not justice but an inconsistent assimilation that will only further weaken marriage."

Brazil's Supreme Court voted last year in favor of allowing same-sex couples the same legal rights as married heterosexuals.  It is in that country where a key lawmaker has come under fire for his homophobic remarks:

The president of the Commission for Human Rights and Minorities of the lower house of Brazil’s Congress says he will not step down despite mounting pressure from critics who say he is homophobic and racist.
Marco Feliciano, an evangelical pastor, Tuesday told reporters: “I will remain. I was elected democratically. Let me do my job”…
On his Twitter page, Feliciano recently said that AIDS was a “gay cancer” and that Africa has been “cursed since the times of Noah,” which explains the poverty, violence and disease afflicting that continent.
Argentina is currently the only Latin American country to legalize gay marriage in 2010 though the practice is also permitted in parts of Mexico.

Video Source– YouTube via user telesurenglish

Online Sources – Huffington Post, NBC News, Washington Post

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