Ecuador will begin to formally recognise the unions of same-sex couples on documents from September 15, it has been announced.

In 2009, the South American country constitutionally banned the recognition of same-sex marriage, but provided same-sex couples in monogamous relationships some of the rights afforded to straight couples.

However, President Rafael Correa announced yesterday that a process is set to be introduced next month to allow couples to register their union, and to allow their status to appear on official documents.

He said: “The LGBT community have the constitutional right to register their union.

“Gays, lesbians, transgender and transsexual people have the full constitutional right to include their civil union on their ID cards.

“Until now, only heterosexual marriages could be listed on the identification document.

“If there was any doubt about heterosexual or same-sex civil unions being put on national ID cards, there is none any more.”

Despite the reform, the strongly Catholic country is unlikely to make any further steps towards same-sex marriage.

In 2013, a former Ecuadorian presidential candidate was barred from political activity for a year, for claiming that gay people could be “cured”, were “immoral”, and suffered from “severe deviation of conduct.”