Lawmakers in Uruguay passed a bill late Thursday allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. The bill, passed 40-13 by The Chamber or Representatives, must first go through the Senate, who has until September 15 to vote. Since the ruling party holds the majority in the Senate, the bill is expected to pass, making Uruguay the first country in Latin America to allow adoption for same-sex couples.
This bill is the latest in a series of progressive laws backed by President Tabaré Vázquez. With the aid of his political party Broad Front Coalition (Frente Amplio), Vázquez has been working hard to change the legal landscape of alternative sexuality. Since taking office in 2005, the center-left president has legalized civil unions, lifted the ban on homosexuals joining the military, and approved a bill allowing children 12 and older to change their names — a nod to transgender youth.
These laws have been met with heavy opposition from conservatives and members of the Roman Catholic Church, the dominant religious group not only in Uruguay, but also in Latin America as a whole. Although the laws are controversial, they lay down the stepping stones toward social equality, paving the way for other Latin America countries.
Rachel Anderson is a staff writer/editor for VIVA Travel Guides.