Ecuadorean lawmakers approved a new gender identity law Thursday allowing citizens to change their birth name and gender identity on legal documents.
The legal measure, which was approved by a majority of 77 votes, will now be sent to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa for final approval.
If approved, the law will distribute new legal ID cards to those wishing to change their gender and birth name.
Following Thursday’s vote, Richard Calderon, a representative from the ruling PAIS Alliance party and the author of the bill said, “The current law, which dates back to 1976, is problematic because it conflicts with the values promoted in the 2008 constitution, especially regarding gender rights, discrimination against women, and the recognition of gender and sexual diversity.”
Ecuador’s 2008 constitution includes the principle of non-discrimination and the right to decide on one’s sexual orientation.
However, according to a 2013 report carried out by the Ecuadorean Institute of national statistics many people from the country’s LGBTQ community report high-levels of discrimination and violence. The study found that 55.8 percent of the 2,805 people interviewed claimed to have experienced discrimination.
Nevertheless, in recent years Ecuador has taken many important steps towards extending civil liberties to the country’s LGBT community. Earlier this year, Ecuador passed laws allowing same-sex civil unions to be recognized on ID cards.
In 2013, Ecuador also became the first Andean nation to introduce the United Nations-led “Free and Equal” campaign, the first global lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights initiative.
The news follows neighboring Bolivia introducing the Law of Gender Identity in late November, which officially enables transgender people in Bolivia to change their name, sex and gender on legal documents.