Equality campaigners in Argentina are celebrating after the country's Senate voted to give legal recognition to same-sex marriage. Argentina is the first country in Latin America to do so.
Under the new law, same-sex couples will also be allowed to adopt children.
The measure was approved in the Senate by 33 votes to 27, with three abstentions. The Chamber of Deputies, which forms the lower house of Argentina's parliament, had already voted in favour.
Maria Rachid, President of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals, said that Argentina will now be a “more just country for all families”.
As senators debated the measure for fourteen hours, rival demonstrations were held by supporters and opponents.
Same-sex civil unions are already recognised in parts of Argentina, but recent court rulings have contributed to legal confusion. The new law aims to clarify the situation by ensuring recognition nationwide.
Senior Roman Catholics in Argentina have spoken out against same-sex marriage and encouraged opposition to the new law. But campaigners in favour of the change have also counted Catholics and other Christians amongst their number.
Rachid said that, “Nearly every political and social figure has spoken out in favour of marriage equality”. The law is backed by the country's president, Cristina Fernandez.
The group Families Argentina has campaigned against same-sex marriage. Its spokesperson Ines Frank argued that “the essence of a family is between two people of opposite sexes”. She insisted that because of this, it is wrong to say that the group is advocating discrimination.
While Argentina is now the only Latin American country to recognise same-sex marriages nationwide, they are also legal in Mexico City. In addition, same-sex unions are recognised in Uruguay, but the word “marriage” is not used.