President Tabaré Vázquez signed a bill earlier this month permitting couples in any legal union, including same-sex couples in civil unions, to adopt children, but the law continues to cause confusion according to local reports. Lawyers and judges have criticized the law for lacking specifics and granting the Uruguayan Institute for the Children and Adolescents (INAU) too much power in the new adoption procedures.
Uruguay’s Senate unanimously approved the adoption law on September 9, 2009, as English-language media highlighted the move as a triumph for gay rights in Latin America. The country has passed a number of progressive laws in the past year, including legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. On October 12, 2009, the Senate also approved a bill that legalizes sex changes for people older than age 18 and permits citizens to change their genders on official identification documents.
There are, however, limits to Uruguay’s progressive legislation. Referring to the new adoption law, Pérez Manrique, president of the Second Session of the Court of Appeal of Family Affairs said, “On the whole, there is a conservative attitude among the legislators in not finding the final solution to all of this: that is approving same-sex marriage.”
After the Civil Registry Office warned that allowing people to officially change their names and genders would enable same-sex couples to marry, the Senate included an amendment in the sex-change law that strictly prohibits same-sex marriage. In November 2008, President Vázquez went against his political party in vetoing a law that would have decriminalized abortion.