Daniel Abugattas, president of the Congress of Peru, has endorsed proposed legislation which would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

The 58-year-old Abugattas announced his support during a wide-ranging interview on Agenda Politica (Political Agenda).

“It could be a sort of private contract without stressing that it is for people of the same gender and as a legal concept based on free association,” Abugattas said. “And not demonize it because it is exclusively for people of a different sexual orientation.”

However, Abugattas said he is opposed to gay marriage, because it is an institution that “came before the era of Christ” and “deserves the utmost respect.”

“If they want to do other things, give it another name (other than marriage) and do it. But marriage is marriage between people of different sexes,” he added.

(Related: Peruvian cardinal suggests lawmaker pushing for civil unions is gay.)