Mexico City offers free honeymoon to the first gay couple to wed in Argentina

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico City’s tourism minister Thursday offered a free honeymoon to the first gay couple to wed in Argentina after that country made Latin American history by legalizing same-sex marriages.

The offer was “in recognition of tolerance, but also to promote gay friendly tourism in Mexico City,” said Alejandro Rojas, according to a statement.

Argentina on Thursday became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, following a landmark Senate vote which stirred controversy in the majority Roman Catholic nation.

Authorities in the Mexican capital, which legalized gay marriage last year, offered air tickets for the first couple to benefit from the Argentine law, and was seeking sponsorship from hotels and restaurants in Mexico City and the beach resort of Cancun, Rojas said.

Around 15 percent of world tourism — 150 million tourists per year — is gay friendly, while gay tourists are discerning, respectful and spend 47 percent more than heterosexual tourists, Rojas added.

Mexico City approved gay marriage and opened the way for adoptions last December, provoking a wave of uproar from religious groups and conservatives including President Felipe Calderon.

Mexico City’s leftist government has pioneered liberal legislation in the past 13 years, including the decriminalization of abortion in 2007.