New Internationalist

Moving towards equality

After a marathon session and heated discussions, the Argentine Senate approved the bill authorizing same-sex marriage, making Argentina the first Latin American country to legalize it.

The law was approved with 33 votes in favour, 27 against, and three abstentions, after discussions that lasted for nearly 14 hours.

The bill was supported by senators of different blocs of the ruling party Front for Victory (Frente para la Victoria), Unión Cívica Radical, Coalición Cívica, and socialist parties. However, the bill was opposed by most of the senators belonging to the dissident Peronist parties and a number of the most radical parties.

Throughout discussions, the main square in Buenos Aires ‘Plaza de Mayo’ was occupied by people from a variety of social movements and political parties.

Religious groups who arrived at Plaza de Mayo with the intention of  provoking the protesters into violence, failed to dampen the joy of all those who supported the amendment of the law.

The president of the Homosexual Community of Argentina (Comunidad Homosexual Argentina) issued a statement saying: ‘We congratulate members of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate who voted in favour of the bill for not falling victim to the pressures of religious groups, and for advancing the recognition of the human rights of the LGBTI community.’ He added: ‘This important social debate highlights and confirms yet again the urgent need for a clear separation of Church and  State.’

Other countries with similar laws are the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Iceland.

The new legislation will modify parts of the Civil Code by replacing the phrase ‘husband and wife’ with ‘spouses’, and providing equal rights to homosexual couples with adoption, inheritance and social benefits.

The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez, sent a message from China saying she was ‘satisfied’ with the approval of the new law but also attacked the church for radicalizing the debate with talk of a ‘War by God’ against the proposals.

For his part, the chief of staff Aníbal Fernández, said that the ‘mainstreaming’ of support showed that ‘Argentina was at the forefront of discussion and vindication of the rights of every American.’

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