Parliament votes in favour of legalising gay adoptions
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Uruguay lawmakers voted in favour of allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, a move opposed by the country's religious leaders and right-wing politicians. Uruguay's parliament is controlled by the left-wing Frente Amplio coalition.
AFP - Lawmakers in Uruguay on Thursday voted to allow adoptions by gays and lesbians in a first for Latin America, an opposition deputy told AFP.
"They just approved it by 40 votes out of 53," said Jaime Trobo of the opposition National Party.
The ruling leftist Frente Amplio coalition has a majority in parliament.
The measure still needs to pass through the senate, a move considered a formality since it was already approved there on a first reading.
It places the nation of some 3.5 million people another step apart from its more traditionally conservative neighbors after it authorized civil unions for homosexuals last year.
The proposal came despite criticism from the country's religious leaders and some right-wing politicians.
Tabare Vazquez, the first leftist president in Uruguayan history, in May opened access for homosexuals to military schools.
Gays and lesbians have in the past decade won the right to adoption in various European and North American states and territories, as well South Africa and parts of Australia.
The rights involved vary greatly, however, with some permitting gay couples to adopt children who are not related to them, and others only allowing the gay partner of a biological parent to adopt that person's offspring.
The issue remains contentious worldwide, as illustrated by recent legal disputes on the issue from Germany to Florida.
The archbishop of Montevideo, Nicolas Cotugno, said before Uruguay's vote that it would be a "serious error to accept the adoption of children by homosexual couples."
"It's not about religion, philosophy or sociology. It's something which is mainly about the respect of human nature itself," Cotugno said in a statement.
The senate is due to vote on the measure before September 15, the end of a legislative period which was brought forward ahead of presidential elections in October.