Uruguay was the first country in Latin America to recognize gay unions on a nationwide level. In 2008 President Tabard Vasquez signed a law that allowed any couple living together for more than five years the right to enter into a civil union, which provides the same rights as a married couple. Gay marriage is still illegal in Uruguay but same-sex couples can adopt children, receive health benefits, pensions and inheritance. In 2009 President Vasquez lifted a ban on gay persons serving in the military, which had been imposed by the military dictatorship in the 1970’s.
Uruguay has made remarkable leaps in humanitarian rights, but the formation of new laws does not mean the eradication of social prejudices. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) discrimination still exists although to a much lesser degree than many other countries. Some violence does occur against the LGBT community, but Uruguayans seem to accept the LGBT community with some reservations. Those reservations being that they remain unacknowledged and quiet about their sexual preferences or they conform to gay stereotypes, such as hairdressers.