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Congress passes law allowing gay couples to adopt

Uruguay's Congress has voted to allow gay couples to adopt children, making it the first Latin American country to extend this right to same-sex, as well as unmarried, couples. The measure must still be signed by President Tabare Vazquez.

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REUTERS - Uruguayan lawmakers voted on Wednesday to extend adoption rights to to gay couples, the latest measure relaxing laws on homosexuality to draw criticism from Church leaders in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Members of Congress said the law makes Uruguay the first Latin American country to let gay couples adopt. The measure, which must still be signed by President Tabare Vazquez, also for the first time allows unmarried couples to adopt.

“This law is a significant step toward recognizing the rights of homosexual couples,” Diego Sempol, of gay rights group Ovejas Negras (Black Sheep), told Reuters Television earlier this week.

Gay people are allowed to adopt under Uruguayan law, but as individuals rather than jointly as a couple. Gay marriage remains illegal.

Uruguay, a small South American nation with a secular state structure, passed a law in late 2007 to permit gay couples have so-called civil unions that grant similar rights as marriage.  Earlier this year the center-left government also lifted a ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces.

Church leaders criticized the new adoption law and the center-right Partido Nacional voted against it.

“The family is the bedrock of society and this measure weakens it. For us, allowing children to be adopted by same-sex couples is conditioning the child’s free will,” said Partido Nacional Sen. Francisco Gallinal.

Latin America is home to about half of the world’s Roman Catholics, and government policies on gay rights and other divisive issues such as abortion tend to reflect the Church’s conservative stance.

 

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