Same-sex marriage bill comes into force in Uruguay

Sergio Miranda (left) and Rodrigo Borda (right) Sergio Miranda (left) and Rodrigo Borda (right) have registered to marry at a civil registry office in Montevideo

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Two gay men who have been a couple for 14 years have become the first to register to marry in Uruguay, hours after a law came into force allowing same-sex marriages in the country.

Rodrigo Borda, 39, and Sergio Miranda, 45, said it was a day of much joy and emotion, but also of responsibility.

President Jose Mujica signed the legislation in May, but it took 90 days to come into effect.

Uruguay is the second South American nation to pass a gay-marriage law.

Mr Borda and Mr Miranda said they would celebrate their wedding in September.

It would be a "very public affair", not only because they wanted to share the moment with "all the world", but also because they wanted "to give an example to those gay couples who may be thinking about getting married but don't dare to", the couple added.

Three years ago, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriages.

Reforms

Since then, Brazil's Supreme Court overwhelmingly voted in favour of granting same-sex couples the same legal rights as married heterosexuals, effectively authorising gay marriage.

In Colombia, a judge recently ordered a notary to sign a document which - while not a marriage certificate - in effect gave a same-sex couple the same rights as a heterosexual one.

In Mexico, legislation on same-sex unions is a matter for individual states. Gay marriage is legal in the capital and the southern state of Quintana Roo, while the states of Coahuila and Colima allow gay couples to enter into civil unions. Gay marriage remains illegal in the rest of the country.

The gay-marriage bill is among a series of liberal reforms in Uruguay backed by President Mujica.

Since the left-wing politician came to power, parliament has also passed a law allowing abortion beyond cases of rape, incest or threats to a woman's health.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted in favour of a bill which, if passed by the Senate, will legalise marijuana and put its production and sale into the hands of the state.

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