Gay rights activists in Venezuela are calling on lawmakers to legalize gay marriage.

The group Equal Venezuela Civil Association (Asociacion Civil Venezuela Igualitaria) will introduce a marriage bill to the country's National Assembly on Friday, January 31.

The group said a petition in support of the bill's passage has attracted more than 18,000 signatures and that more than 40 social groups have endorsed the proposed legislation.

“The main purpose of the bill is to have equal rights, legitimize our close relationship with the [Venezuelan] state, to protect our families and to achieve respect for all types of love and forms of families,” an ACVI spokesman told Venezuela Analysis. “The bill will succeed to the extent that the groups endorsing the project do not lose enthusiasm.”

The ACVI said that four lawmakers signed their petition.

(Related: Chilean Senate approves bill legalizing civil unions for gay couples.)