MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — La Cámara de Diputados uruguaya aprobó el miércoles una ley que permite el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo, impulsada por el gobierno de José Mujica, lo que convierte a Uruguay en el segundo país de América Latina en permitir este tipo de unión.

El texto fue aprobado ampliamente por 71 votos a favor de 92 legisladores presentes. Encontró apoyo entre varios legisladores de los tres principales partidos: el gobernante Frente Amplio (izquierda), el Partido Nacional (centro) y el Partido Colorado (derecha). Sin embargo, el apoyo a la ley no fue unánime entre ninguno de esos tres grupos políticos.

Ahora el llamado "proyecto de matrimonio igualitario" -ya aprobado en el Senado el 2 de abril- debe ser promulgado como ley por el Ejecutivo en un lapso de 10 días.

"Acá lo que duele es la palabra 'matrimonio', es lo que cuesta entregar", dijo el diputado colorado Fernando Amado al justificar su voto a favor. "Pero para nosotros el matrimonio es la unión de dos personas en base al amor. Y el amor no es ni homosexual ni heterosexual", agregó.

Mientras, la diputada oficialista Valeria Rubino, que vestía con los colores del arco iris, dijo que votar la ley era "fundamental" y que los homosexuales, al igual que los heterosexuales, "siempre conformaron familias".

Por su parte, el diputado nacionalista Gerardo Amarilla intervino en contra del texto. "Esta norma desvirtúa y desnaturaliza la institución del matrimonio", y por tanto impacta "en la sociedad y en la familia", especialmente en su "rol de procrear", afirmó.

El espacio reservado al público para seguir el debate de la cámara baja estuvo colmado por unas 300 personas, en su mayoría militantes de agrupaciones homosexuales, que festejaron el resultado.

El proyecto original surgió de un texto redactado por el Colectivo Ovejas Negras que promueve demandas de grupos homosexuales y retomado por diputados del Frente Amplio.

"Estamos viviendo un hecho histórico. Hoy Uruguay salda su deuda con muchos uruguayos que aún sufren discriminación", dijo Federico Graña, uno de los líderes del Colectivo Ovejas Negras, a The Associated Press. "Hoy a nivel estatal se le da dignidad al amor entre dos personas del mismo sexo", agregó.

"En función de los trámites necesarios, calculamos que las primeras parejas homosexuales se estarán casando 90 días después de promulgada la ley o sea, que debería ser a mediados de julio", dijo Graña.

Uruguay se convierte así en el país número 12 del mundo y el segundo de América Latina después de Argentina en permitir el matrimonio homosexual en todo su territorio.

En los alrededores del Congreso había gente disfrazada y portando banderas de Uruguay y el arco iris. Las agrupaciones homosexuales organizaron una fiesta en la plaza adyacente, con música electrónica. Travestis, parejas homosexuales de la mano, jóvenes y veteranos disfrazados bailaban y saltaban festejando la votación de la ley.

"Tenemos los mismos derechos y obligaciones. Yo pago mis impuestos y cumplo con mis responsabilidades igual que los demás, ¿por qué van a discriminarme?", dijo Roberto Acosta, un jubilado homosexual de 62 años que portaba una bandera y un abanico con los colores del arco iris, a la AP.

"Tengo una pareja que quiere casarse conmigo. Vamos a ver, ya mismo no va a ser, pero sí quería tener la opción de hacerlo cuando tenga ganas", explicó.

Además del matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo, la ley incluye otros temas polémicos, como permitir que parejas homosexuales adopten niños.

El texto implica además cambios para todos los matrimonios -homosexuales o no- como por ejemplo poder decidir el orden de los apellidos de los padres al nombrar un hijo, biológico o adoptado, o iniciar el trámite de divorcio por decisión de cualquiera de los dos cónyuges; hasta ahora sólo la mujer tenía ese derecho merced a una norma de 1912.

La iglesia Católica había llamado a los legisladores a rechazar el proyecto, y en un comunicado en el sitio de la Conferencia Episcopal del Uruguay sostuvo que "llamar de manera igual a realidades desiguales, so pretexto de igualdad, no es justicia sino asimilaciones inconsistentes que sólo harán que se debilite todavía más el matrimonio. Constatar una diferencia real no es discriminar".

"Esta ley pone en riesgo derechos tan fundamentales como los del niño, que corre el riesgo de convertirse en un objeto, especialmente cuando se plantea la adopción plena como un derecho de todos los matrimonios, sin tener en cuenta que debe primar el interés del propio niño de crecer, en lo posible, con una clara referencia materna y paterna", concluye el comunicado.

Michelle Suárez, integrante del Colectivo Ovejas Negras y participante de la redacción del texto original, explicó a la AP que la nueva ley también permitirá que parejas homosexuales extranjeras viajen a Uruguay a casarse, como de hecho ya ocurre con las parejas heterosexuales, "siempre y cuando cumplan los trámites migratorios ordinarios correspondientes".

La justicia uruguaya reconoció por primera vez en junio un matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo al aceptar la solicitud de un uruguayo y un español casados previamente en España que querían formalizar su situación en el país.

El gobierno de Mujica, un ex guerrillero izquierdista, ha impulsado en los últimos meses varias leyes liberales en Uruguay, incluyendo la legalización de la marihuana y la reciente despenalización del aborto.

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