On Thursday the Uruguayan House of Representatives approved a new bill that would make civil unions, including same-sex unions, equivalent to marriage and grant them equal rights and protections.
Analysts expect the measure to be approved by the Senate as well before the end of the year, which would make Uruguay the sixth country in the world to implement such a law. The other countries with similar laws are Belgium, Holland, Spain, Canada and South Africa.
The law would grant couples who can prove to a judge they have been living together for at least five years the same rights and obligations as traditionally married couples, including inheritance rights and medical and social security benefits.
Representative Diego Canepa, who drafted the measure, said it was “unjust and discriminatory that the law protects only some unions and is not up-to-date with the social reality.”
In response, the secretary general and spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of Uruguay, Bishop Luis Del Castillo, said some kind of legal protection should be given to civil unions, “but it does not seem appropriate to make them equal to the marriage contract,” whose dimensions “exceed civil rights because it the foundation of the family and society.”
He said the bishops had serious reservations about the measure because it “distorts and weakens the image of marriage as the foundation of the family.”