LGBT rights in Uruguay

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LGBT rights in Uruguay
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1934
Gender identity/expression Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
Recognition of
Civil unions since 2008
Adoption Legal since 2009
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protection since 2004 (see below)

LGBT rights in Uruguay are the most advanced in South America. Same-sex sexual activity is legal, anti-discrimination laws are in place, and gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military. Furthermore, same-sex couples can enter into civil unions which provide many of the rights of marriage, including adoption.

Laws against homosexuality

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1934.[1] Then the age of consent became equal at 15, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender, however the corruption of persons under the age of 18 is criminalized as well, since 1994.[2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Uruguay was the first Latin American Country to legalize civil unions under national legislation. Senator Margarita Percovich, the author of the legislation, said the bill would give couples entering civil unions the same rights as marriage. Under the legislation couples would have be together for at least five years and sign a registry. The couples will receive health benefits, inheritance, parenting and pension rights. Following the approval of a bill proposed by Margarita Percovich of the Broad Front coalition in November 2007, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples will be allowed to enter into a Civil union after they live together for at least five years, and will be entitled to get some of the benefits that married couples are afforded. The bill was passed in Congress on 30 November 2007 after having been passed in a similar form in the Senate earlier in February 2007; the bill was passed by both chambers in the same forum on December 19[3] and signed into law by president Tabaré Vázquez on December 27.[4] It came into effect since 1 January 2008.[5]

Adoption and family planning

Since September 2009, same-sex couples in a civil union can jointly adopt. The law enabling this was approved by the House of Deputies on 28 August 2009 and by the Senate on 9 September 2009.[6] Uruguay is the first country in South America to allow same-sex couples to adopt.[7] It is also the first Latin American country to allow gay adoption.[8][9][10][11]

17 out of a possible 23 senators voted in favour of the move.[8] After the vote, Senator Margarita Percovich said: "It is a right for the boys and the girls, not a right for the adults. It streamlines the adoption process and does not discriminate".[9] Diego Sempol, a representative of the gay rights group, Black Sheep, said: “This law is a significant step toward recognizing the rights of homosexual couples”.[11] Nicolas Cotugno, archbishop of Montevideo had previously said it would be a "serious error to accept the adoption of children by homosexual couples", claiming it was "not about religion, philosophy or sociology. It's something which is mainly about the respect of human nature itself".[8] He also claimed: "The Church cannot accept a family made up of two people of the same sex. These are people who unite and live their life together, but the Church does not consider that a family. A child is not something you make. I don't want to be too harsh in my comment, but with all due respect, a child is not a pet".[10] Senator Francisco Gallinal of the National Party claimed: “The family is the bedrock of society and this measure weakens it. For us, allowing children to be adopted by same-sex couples is conditioning the child’s free will.”[11]

The law has not yet gone into effect, the Executive Branch has to decide when to implement the new law.

Discrimination protections

Incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity has been prohibited since 2003,[12] and in 2004 an anti-discrimination law (Ley Nº 17.817) was passed to create an Honorary Commission to Combat Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and other forms of Discrimination including sexual orientation and identity discrimination. Commission is intended to recommend laws to protect against various forms of discrimination. The Commission was finally installed on March 21, 2007.

Military service

Since May 2009, gays are allowed to serve openly in the military of Uruguay, after the Defence Minister signed a decree stating that military recruitment policy would no longer discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.[13]

Transgender issues

In September 2009, a law was passed allowing transgender people over the age of 18 to change their name and legal gender on official documents, so that it is in line with their gender identity.[14]

Summary table

Homosexuality legal Yes since 1934
Equal age of consent Yes since 1934
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes since 2004
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas Yes since 2004
Hate crimes laws covering both sexual orientation and gender identity Yes since 2003
Recognition of same-sex couples (e.g. civil unions) Yes since 2008
Same-sex marriage No considered in 2010
Adoption by same-sex couples Yes since 2009
IVF parentage for lesbians (there are no laws on parentage) considered in 2010
Gays allowed to serve in the military Yes since 2009
Right to change legal gender Yes since 2009
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes since 2006
MSMs allowed to donate blood Unknown

See also


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. "Uruguayan Pres. To Sign Gay Unions Bill",, 2007-12-19. Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. 
  4. Uruguay's President grants legal rights for gay couples- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  5. "Civil Unions Begin Next Week In Uruguay",, 2007-12-28. Archived from the original on 2007-12-29. 
  6. [3]
  7. Uruguay approves Latin America's first gay adoption law
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Uruguay allows same-sex adoption. BBC (2009-09-09). Retrieved on 2009-09-11.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Uruguay passes same-sex adoption law. CNN (2009-09-10). Retrieved on 2009-09-11.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Uruguay to legalise gay adoptions. RTÉ (2009-09-10). Retrieved on 2009-09-11.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Lawmakers in Uruguay Vote to Allow Gay Couples to Adopt. The New York Times (2009-09-09). Retrieved on 2009-09-11.
  12. [4]
  13. [5] Huffington Post: Uruguay To Lift Ban On Gays In The Military, 14 May 2009,
  14. [6]

External links


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