Argentine gays proud of 500 same-sex marriages
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina --Thousands marched in Argentina's Gay Pride parade on Saturday, celebrating the country's status as the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage and vowing to campaign for new rights for transgender people.
More than 500 same-sex couples have been married since President Cristina Fernandez signed the law on July 21, said Esteban Paulo, President of the Argentine Lesbians, Gay, Bi, and Transgender Federation.
The gay marriage law has been a boon for tourism, said Pablo De Luca, founder of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Aires. He estimates that 100,000 more gays and lesbians have visited Argentina as a result of the law.
"It's the same kind of increase that happened in South Africa, Canada, and Madrid after they legalized gay marriage," De Luca said. "We want to travel to a country where we don't feel like we have to hide our sexuality."
Gay and lesbian couples still face discrimination -- some civil servants have been unwilling to sign their marriage licenses, and the judicial system has been slow to approve adoptions by same-sex couples even though the law now grants them all the rights heterosexual married couples enjoy. Argentina's dominant Roman Catholic Church remains opposed.
The theme of Saturday's parade was "let's go for more" -- specifically, a "gender identity" law to enable individuals to change their gender on birth certificates and identity cards. Uruguay passed such a law in 2009, but transgender Argentines have no such recourse and often have trouble when dealing with the government using documents that no longer match their expressed gender.
The proposed law has been stuck in Argentina's senate since 2007, but some are more optimistic now that gay marriage has passed.
"The gay marriage law helped open the doors to discuss LGBT issues in Argentina," said Socialist Deputy Roy Cortina. "And that's going to be beneficial for the gender identity law."