Uruguay came one step closer to legalising marriage equality on Tuesday evening, after a majority of members of its lower house of Congress voted in favour of a measure to legalise equal marriage.

The measure will now go to the country’s Senate, where it is expected to be approved, reports the BBC.

AfterMarriage reported that 81 out of the 99 lower house members voted in favour of marriage equality, meaning the bill passed by a very high margin.

One of the authors of the bill, Julio Bango, said the bill intended to balance the institution of marriage:

“This is not a homosexual or gay marriage law. It is a measure to equalise the institution independent of the sex of the couple.”

The debate over equal marriage was drawn out, however Uruguayan deputies voted overwhelmingly in favour of the bill on Tuesday evening, and will now go to the Senate where President Jose Mujica’s coalition has a majority.

Uruguay has allowed civil unions to same-sex couples, gay couples to adopt and gay members to serve in the armed forces, in recent years.

If passed Uruguay would become the second Latin American country to allow marriage equality. Argentina’s president Christina Fernandez de Kirchner signed in an equal marriage law on July 21 2010.

Last week, the Mexican Supreme Court made a unanimous ruling which could signal the beginning of equal marriage rights across the entire country. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of three couples wishing to marry in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.