Nearly 70,000 people in Uruguay have presented signatures seeking to initiate the process of repealing a controversial transgender law passed last year.

The signatures – which totaled 69,360 – surpassed the 2 percent of registered voters necessary to initiate a referendum. They were presented to the nation's Electoral Court on Monday.

Once the Electoral Court validates the signatures, it must call a pre-referendum, which must have the support of 25 percent of registered voters, or about 650,000 people. If that threshold is reached, the Electoral Court must call a mandatory referendum which will determine whether the law is repealed.

The signatures were collected by primary election candidate Carlos Iafigliola and congressman Álvaro Dastugue, both of the National Party.

Iafigliola said the law violates constitutional guarantees of equality by granting preferential treatment to transgender people.

In an interview with the local "This Voice is Mine" program, the candidate said that "the most serious issue is that this law is riddled with gender ideology, denies biology, denies that we are born male and female and says that sex is assigned to us at birth by convention."

"I'm worried that the State will intrude into your home and tell the parents 'you step aside and I'll take charge of your child.' For me this is very serious, it's clearly violating parental authority," he said.

"We don't have anything against transgender people, against anybody, we respect everyone's human dignity from their mother's womb," he said, but added that he believes the law "is a bad law – unjust, dangerous and unconstitutional."

The Comprehensive Law on Transgender Persons was passed last October. It allows adults to change their name and sex in the State Civil Registry by applying through the Commission on Identity and Gender Change. If they later change their mind, they can reverse the decision five years later.

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The law also provides access to state-funded surgical interventions and hormonal treatments "to adapt one's body, including the genitalia, in accordance with one's self-perceived gender identity, without the necessity of requiring judicial or administrative authorization."

Children under 18 years of age will be able to change their name and sex in the official registry, and access surgical interventions and hormonal treatments with the consent of their parents or legal representative.

Minors who do not have the consent of their guardians can request representation by the State to obtain a judicial bypass, which can be granted if a court deems the hormonal treatments or other procedures to be in the best interest of the child.

In addition, the law provides for lifelong financial compensation for those persons who claim to have been victims of institutional violence related to their gender identity during the country's military dictatorship from 1973 to 1985.

It also guarantees the transgender population with a 1 percent quota of the job vacancies in public administration and training programs given by the National Institute for Employment and Vocational Training, as well as priority in accessing housing.