BBC Home > BBC News > Americas

Argentine gay couple becomes first in region to marry

29 December 09 05:12 GMT

Two Argentine men have become the first same-sex couple to marry legally in Latin America.

Alejandro Freyre, 39, and Jose Maria Di Bello, 41, tied the knot in a civil ceremony in the southern city of Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego province.

Gay marriage is illegal in Argentina. However, the Tierra del Fuego governor issued a special decree allowing the couple to wed there.

Roman Catholic leaders in the country expressed alarm at the move.

A judge in the capital, Buenos Aires, prevented the couple from marrying there earlier this month.

Church anger

The men, who are both HIV-positive, had planned to get married on 1 December, World Aids day.

They eventually travelled to Tierra del Fuego, where they received the support of provincial governor Fabiana Rios.

Although Argentina's civil code bans gay marriage, the constitution is silent on the matter.

Correspondents say Ms Rios exploited this grey area and gave the two men a special dispensation.

She said in a statement that gay marriage was "an important advance in human rights and social inclusion".

After Monday's ceremony Mr di Bello said: "We're extremely excited and happy about what this means for all gays and lesbians in Argentina."

However Bishop Juan Carlos, of the southern Argentine city of Rio Gallegos, called the marriage "an attack against the survival of the human species".

Other Catholic leaders have argued that civil union, which is legal in four Argentine cities, should be sufficient.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on gay marriage next year.

Related BBC sites