Argentina on Thursday became the first country in Latin America to legalise same-sex marriage, following a landmark Senate vote carried live on national television.
The law, backed by the centre-left government of President Cristina Kirchner, was adopted in a 33-27 vote after 15 hours of debate. In this majority Roman Catholic country, some had reservations, but the law passed.
“It is a historic day,” said ruling party leader Miguel Pichetto.
Opposition Radical senator Gerardo Morales said Argentine society had changed, stressing that the bill was aimed at guaranteeing the rights of minorities.
Hundreds of people outside Congress cheered when the bill passed. Some chanted “Equality, Equality.” Some tearful couples embraced.
In this South American nation of 40 million, some protesters including priests showing images of the Virgin Mary prayed outside as lawmakers took up the legislation.
On Wednesday police had to separate opposing groups protesting outside the Senate who hurled eggs and oranges at each other.
The law tweaks the legal code which no longer will refer to husband and wife, but rather to “the marrying parties”.