Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Argentine Gay Couple Defies Country's Civil Union Ban


By OSCAR J. SERRAT, Associated Press
updated 10:13 a.m. PT, Mon., Jan. 21, 2008

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Two leaders of Argentina's leading homosexual rights organization were married Monday in Madrid in defiance of their country's ban on gay marriage.
Cesar Cigliutti and Marcelo Suntheim said they would demand legal recognition of their marriage in Argentina.
"We came to Spain because there is a marriage law here that allows the union of homosexuals and in Argentina there isn't," Cigliutti, president of the Argentine Homosexual Community, told The Associated Press from Madrid. The newlyweds celebrated with friends Monday before a honeymoon in Egypt.
The Madrid wedding was made possible by Suntheim's dual citizenship in Argentina and Germany _ allowing him to marry within the European Union. They chose Spain for its cultural similarities to Argentina.
Although Argentina does not recognize gay marriage, the Buenos Aires legislature approved a law in 2002 permitting same-sex civil unions, granting gay couples in the Argentine capital economic and family rights similar to those of heterosexual couples.
Similar laws are also in place in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro and a small city in the province of Cordoba. Uruguay is the only country in Latin America that has legalized gay civil unions nationwide.
Buenos Aires has undergone a gay tourism boom in the past five years, rivaling Rio de Janeiro as the unofficial "gay capital" of South America. The continent's first luxury gay hotel opened in the city in late October.
But past attempts by homosexuals to marry in Argentina have been rejected by the judicial system in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Cigliutti said he and Suntheim, secretary of the Argentine Homosexual Community, will have to fight for recognition in court.
"It's not going to be easy. ... But we're already married, Spain recognizes us," said Cigliutti. "We want Argentina to recognize us as well."
Same-sex civil unions have recently been recognized by Mexico City, the Mexican state of Coahuila and Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state.

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