Last week, Uruguay’s Senate passed a new law on adoption which was welcomed by gay activists, who claimed it gave same-sex couples the right to adopt in the country.

However, concerns have now been raised that it will not grant the much-celebrated rights.

According to Associated Press, a closer reading of the law’s language reveals it does not specifically mention gay couples and in some places makes clear references to straight couples, such as mentioning how a child should take the surnames of its mother and father.

Previously, only married couples or single parents could adopt a child. The law changes this.

Deputy Margarita Percovich said that although the language does not mention gay couples, it allows couples in civil unions to adopt.

However, attorney Juan A Ramirez, an expert in civil rights law, told El Pais newspaper his conclusion was that either lawmakers had forgotten to mention gay couples or wanted to leave it undefined.

The country of 3.6m people was the first nation in South America to grant such protections, although some cities and regions throughout the continent have made similar legal provisions.

Congress passed legislation creating a civil union registry for same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples who have lived together for at least five years.

In May, Uruguay lifted a ban on gays serving in its military.

The ban was imposed under the 1973-85 military dictatorship. Under it, people with “open sexual deviations”, which includes homosexuality, were banned from entering the military academies.

The ban also included homosexuality among the “mental illnesses and disorders” that legally made a person unsuitable to join the armed forces.

Another positive move for LGBT people was a measure approved last year which allows children over the age of 12 to change their names. It was aimed as trans young people