Rolando Villena, Bolivia's public advocate, has called for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

Villena said the recognition should be included in a new Bolivian family law being considered by lawmakers.

He said in a statement that the law should incorporate an “institution analogous to marriage for people of the same sex.”

Gay rights activists have unsuccessfully lobbied for passage of a civil union bill.

The Roman Catholic Church rejected Villena's proposal.

“As the Catholic Church, we disagree with the public advocate's stance,” said Monsignor Eugenio Scarpellini, bishop of the Diocese of El Alto. “We clarify that marriage, the family is a union between a man and a woman.”

“There is no other kind of union,” he added.