Argentina’s lower house passes gay marriage bill
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BUENOS AIRES, Wednesday
Argentina’s lower house passed a gay marriage bill that, if also approved by senators, will put the South American country among a handful in the world that allow homosexual couples to marry.
Small groups of gay rights supporters and opponents of the marriage bill gathered outside Congress where deputies approved the measure with 125 votes in favour and 109 against after 12 hours of heated debate.
“If we’re all equal before the law, why do we want to give a different name to unions between same-sex couples?” posed Deputy Felipe Sola, who backed the bill.
The bill permits gay couples to adopt children for the first time, one of its most controversial provisions. If the law is passed in the upper house, Argentina would be the first country in predominantly Roman Catholic Latin America to allow same-sex marriages.
Neighbouring Uruguay grants extensive rights, including adoptions, to gay couples in civil unions but does not allow them to marry. Mexico City is the only other place in Latin America where gays have the same marriage and adoption rights as heterosexual couples.
Catholic Church leaders in the region have described gay marriage as “perverse” and immoral, but the marriage bill has not sparked much public controversy in Argentina.
Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, is known among foreign tourists as being gay friendly, with some bars, hotels and shops catering to that clientele. Five gay Argentine couples have already got married in recent months.