By Roy Heale

Over six months have passed since the Argentina Federal Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption Act was signed into law on July 22nd., 2010. A predominantly Roman Catholic country, Argentina is now at the vanguard of gay rights in South America and is one of only a handful of countries globally which allow gay couples to wed. Although actual statistics are not available, estimates claim that already over 1000 same-sex couples have taken advantage of the new law and tied the not in Argentina last year.

However, there is some confusion and uncertainty as to whether LGBT tourists from other countries may also visit Argentina for their wedding and honeymoon. But there is no ambiguity when it comes to declaring Argentina as the most gay-friendly and gay-welcoming country in South America after taking this bold step forward towards equality for its gay and lesbian citizens.

Within the text of the new law it states that same-sex “residents” of Argentina may marry and this is where the double meaning of the new law has caused some misunderstandings. There are two ways to qualify for residency in Argentina. The first is to apply to the Immigration Department for permanent residency which is a lengthy, complicated process and, if you qualify, usually takes up to six months. Secondly one can obtain a domicile-certificate from the local police department which costs about US$8.00 and takes about forty-hours hours to complete. But only the official residency from the Immigration Department is currently acceptable for marriage in Argentina. It is possible for a non-resident to marry an Argentine citizen or official resident but this involves another complicated and lengthy application process.

On December 17th., 2010 Argentina’s Minister of the Interior, Florencio Randazzo, agreed to issue a disposition soon clarifying that non-resident aliens will be allowed to get married in Argentina since most Civil Registries are not currently allowing this to happen. No indication was given as to when this clarification will be issued but the local LGBT community leaders are optimistic it will be sooner rather than later.

It should be noted that same-sex marriages are being treated in the same manner as heterosexual couples when it comes to the application process for a wedding license. According to immigration lawyer Hector Gabriel Celano, of Celano & Associates, the paperwork for any marriage license in Argentina can take about two weeks to process and in the cases involving foreigners several documents have to be officially translated into Spanish and notarized. A blood test is also required and must be conducted at a recognized clinic in Argentina. Approximately one week after the wedding ceremony a marriage certificate is issued. So even if two non-residents are allowed to marry in the future it will require a minimum three week stay in Argentina and may require assistance from a local expert to ensure that the application process goes smoothly without any delays.

So while Argentine citizens and official residents can take advantage of the new same-sex marriage act, foreigners and tourists will have to be a little bit more patient.

Having said that, an unconfirmed rumor claims that a same-sex couple of tourists were married in Mendoza. Must have been under the influence of the local Malbec wines!

But one thing is for sure—a very gay-friendly welcome is waiting for LGBT visitors to the South American gay mecca of Buenos Aires and throughout Argentina.

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