The Ecuadorian National Assembly has passed an amendment to its Civil Code which will legalise same-sex civil unions.

The South American country passed the broad reforms, which also included raising the age of legal marriage to 18 and specifying criteria for marriage and divorce.

Civil unions in Ecuador will be open to those of any sexual orientation, and although the Civil Code will state categorically that they are “not considered as marriage”, this is being hailed as a step forward for equality in the country.

It also removed the necessity for couples to prove their relationship of over two years, in order to quality for a civil union.

Yolanda Herrera, a lawyer who fights for LGBT rights, teleSUR English that there are still issues around adoption and surrogacy. She said: “There are legal loopholes that are up in the air, like the affiliation of the child of a same-sex couple that decides to have children.”

She continued: “Today, those two mothers cannot [both] be registered, or in the case of surrogate mothers for two fathers, they cannot register their children. Only the person that gives birth [will be registered]”

Having been passed at the National Assembly, the revisions will go to President Rafael Correa and the executive branch for approval.