Ecuador gay couples allowed to register partnerships

After years of political battle, gay couples in Ecuador lined up Monday to register their unions on their national identity cards like heterosexual couples.

Ecuador: After years of political battle, gay couples in Ecuador lined up Monday to register their unions on their national identity cards like heterosexual couples.

Dressed in bridal white with a garland of flowers, transsexual Diane Rodriguez, the head of rights group Silueta X, registered alongside partner Nicolas Guamanquispe at the civil registry office in the southwestern city of Guayaquil, opening a new era for gay rights in the South American country.

"We are the first couple to register a de facto union. We dedicate ourselves to that," Rodriguez told AFP.

Same-sex marriage remains a remote goal for Ecuador`s gay-rights activists, but they celebrated the new regulations, allowing them to register common-law unions, as a major victory.

The rule change came after President Rafael Correa ordered civil registries to add gay couples and change their ID cards accordingly, in line with the 2008 constitution`s promise of equal protection for common-law unions and civil and religious marriages.

British expatriate couple Nicola Rothon and Helen Bicknell, who made headlines for their unsuccessful battle to register as joint legal parents after their daughter was born in 2011, have also registered their union in the capital Quito, officials said.

Latin America has been one of the most progressive regions on gay marriage rights -- Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have all legalized same-sex weddings, as has Mexico City -- but Ecuador looks unlikely to do so under Correa.

The Catholic leftist has repeatedly said he opposes gay marriage and adoption.

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