A prominent journalist in Mexico City was legally joined with his male partner in one of the first same-sex civil unions in the city yesterday.

Antonio Mendina , 38, is one of the 1200 gay and lesbian people who have registered to go through the new legal ceremony, yet another sign of the changing nature of Mexican society.

Last week 22-year-old Christian Chavez, a member of the hugely popular Mexican pop band RBD, revealed his homosexuality following the leaking of photographs that showed him marrying his partner at a ceremony in Canada.

“Certain photographs were released that show a part of me, a part that I was not prepared to speak of in fear of rejection, of criticism,” he said on the band’s website.

“I don’t want to keep on lying and lie to myself because of fear,” he wrote. The reaction has been largely positive, especially from female fans.

Also last month, The Mexican Supreme Court said that soldiers infected with HIV virus cannot be forced out of the armed forces.

In January the northern state of Coahuila became the first in the country to approve gay unions

So far only four ceremonies have taken place, one of those for an American lesbian couple.

Mexico has a thriving gay scene in urban areas and the area around Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta is referred to as Mexico’s “gay belt.”

Outside these areas though attitudes are more conservative, with the Roman Catholic Church still exerting a lot of influence in rural areas.

The macho nature of Mexican society is being directly challenged, and the influence of the US and the many Mexicans who have lived there is palpable. The loss of authority of the once-all powerful Roman Catholic church is also apparent.

In January David Sanchez Camacho, an out gay man and a Federal congressman for the socialist Partido de la Revolución Democrática, (PRD), announced he intends to propose new laws to allow trans people to legally change their gender and name.

He wants to insert a clause in article four of the Mexican constitution that would allow every Mexican the right to the recognition and free exercise of their gender identity and their gender expression.