No, I am not being hyperbolic here. It really does. But let's get some history first. In 1986, divorce was illegal in Argentina. A divorce law was finally approved in 1987, with huge opposition from the Church and Catholic sectors. In 2010, Argentina became the 10th country in the world to legalize same sex marriage. There was opposition from the Catholic Church, but it was much less impressive. Even the right-wing mayor of Buenos Aires stayed silent: Buenos Aires is a very desirable destination for gay tourism, and the mayor obviously did not want to loose that source of income. I was in Argentina right before the voting, and I was impressed by one thing: the cohesive front presented by different organizations. I remember a conversation I had with a transsexual I know, and she told me that although she is personally against the idea of marriage, and that law did not benefit her personally, she was supporting it because she knew the help of those organizations would be crucial in the future to press for laws that benefited the transgender community.
Today, her hopes proved correct. The country went even further. The Congress passed a gender identity law that is considered groundbreaking in the entire world: it grants people the right to change their legal and physical gender identity simply because they want to, without having to undergo judicial, psychiatric and medical procedures beforehand. Here is a link to the story:
If you follow the link, you will notice that the law doesn't stop there: "[it gives] them access to surgery as a part of the 'Obligiatory Medical Plan' offered by private and public healthcare." That's right. While in the United States women are under attack and it is considered debatable whether all healthcare plans must cover birth control, in Argentina this law makes mandatory to all health care plans to cover surgery. Somebody with little financial resources can go to a public hospital and get it for free (I am sure the waiting period in a public hospital will be long, but the fact is that that person has a right to have the surgery). Experts are saying that the law is years ahead of what's going on even in progressive European countries.
Argentina can be a very complex place. Lately, I was feeling fed up with it because of the increased authoritarism of President Cristina Kirchner and her followers, as well as for the increasingly cheap nationistic tone of some of the goverment actions (like reopening the debate over the Falkland Islands). But then, I read something like this and cannot help it: I am so proud of my country. The law passed in the Senate with 55 in favor, one abstaining, and no opposition! Why is my country, which did not have a divorce law until 1987, going forward, while the United States is going backwards. And I see little unity in similar organizations to get my hopes up that things may change anytime soon. In the meantime, I'll celebrate the accomplishments of my native country. And spread the word...