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Thousands March in Argentine Gay Parade

A transvestite gestures before the Gay Pride Parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

A transvestite gestures before the Gay Pride Parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Many marched in Argentina’s Gay Pride parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Saturday, celebrating the country’s same-sex marriage law.

President of the Argentine Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Federation Esteban Paulo said that more than 500 same-sex couples have been married since President Cristina Fernández signed the law on July 21, making Argentina the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.

The gay marriage law has been a boon for tourism, said Pablo De Luca, founder of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Aires. He estimates that 100,000 more gays and lesbians have visited Argentina as a result of the law.

"It's the same kind of increase that happened in South Africa, Canada, and Madrid after they legalized gay marriage," De Luca said. "We want to travel to a country where we don't feel like we have to hide our sexuality."

Gay and lesbian couples still face discrimination — some civil servants have been unwilling to sign their marriage licenses, and the judicial system has been slow to approve adoptions by same-sex couples even though the law now grants them all the rights heterosexual married couples enjoy. Argentina's dominant Roman Catholic Church remains opposed.

The theme of Saturday's parade was "let's go for more" — specifically, a "gender identity" law to enable individuals to change their gender on birth certificates and identity cards. Uruguay passed such a law in 2009, but transgender Argentines have no such recourse and often have trouble when dealing with the government using documents that no longer match their expressed gender.

The proposed law has been stuck in Argentina's senate since 2007, but some are more optimistic now that gay marriage has passed.

"The gay marriage law helped open the doors to discuss LGBT issues in Argentina," said Socialist Deputy Roy Cortina. "And that's going to be beneficial for the gender identity law."

The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.

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