Thursday, May 14, 2009

Uruguay: President to lift ban on gays in the military

As The Huffington Post reported yesterday, a bill lifting the country's ban on gays in the military has reached the desk of the President of Uruguay and is expected to be signed into law in the following days (Rachel Maddow featured the news last night on her show - see above).

The Associated Press reports that the ban was implemented by the country's rulers during the dictatorship years (1973 to 1985) and had remained in the books since then.

Not surprisingly, today's El Pais says that retired military leaders are furious and have called it "a provocation" which will end up having detrimental effects on the Armed Forces' "morals."

Current officers, also interviewed anonymously, expressed surprise at the decree, which they say caught them off-guard, but were more open to the announced changes than the old guard.

Back in December of 2007, Uruguay became the first country in Latin America to allow civil unions between same-sex couples on a national scale.

UPDATE: President Vázquez signs the bill, President of Paraguay says that his country is not ready...

President Tabaré Vázquez has signed the bill into law according to Reuters.

"The Uruguayan government does not discriminate against its citizens based on their political condition, their ethnic condition or their sexual choice," said the president.

Reuters also reports that the president of neighboring Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, was also present at the bill signing and told reporters that he agreed with the need to end discrimination in his country as well. But, when asked about promoting a similar bill in Paraguay, he said that his country was far from being discussed, much less approved.

"In Paraguay the problem has not been presented" he said, "but, as a matter of fact, I am afraid it does exist. I believe that, in Paraguay, we often are late arrivals (and) we only tackle it after the fact."

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