The City of Buenos Aires became this week the first one in Latin America in passing a law authorising the civil union of homosexual couples. City congress approved the new legislation after five hours of fierce discussions in the last session of the year. Opposition tried to delay the approval as a strategy to postpone the debate until next year.
Inside the hall, a noisy crowd of gays and lesbians, including their official representatives, acclaimed each speech in support of the project. On the other side, a less noisy group of catholic activists pressed for the dismissal of the initiative. The homosexual community won by 29 positive votes against 10.
The law states "any couple freely joined, no matter the sex or the sexual orientation", will be allowed to enjoy similar rights than married persons. For the Argentine legislation, it means that they will be able to ask days off at work in case one of them is sick. Also, in case of critical illness or accidents, a member of the couple will be admitted inside special hospital rooms, where before only relatives were allowed. Also, if one of them become unemployed, will enjoy from now on the status of beneficiary under the health care program of the employed one.
Couples will be registered under the Public Register of Unions after legal requirements are fulfilled. Then, in case of dissolution of the couple by mutual or single consent, the union would be deleted.
The Homosexual Community of Argentina - CHA, by its initials in Spanish - presented the initiative one and a half year ago. Since then, relevant personalities, members of the national culture and intellectuals successfully promoted it.
This is the first Latin American experience and one of the firsts around the world where homosexuals stand the same civil rights than heterosexuals. Celebration parties are expected to take place in gays and lesbians' nightclubs, this weekend in Buenos Aires.