Lawmakers in Uruguay have agreed to allow adoptions by gay and lesbian couples Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Senators, who had previously approved the measure on a first reading, approved the final bill with 17 out of 23 senators voting in favor. The Parliament's lower house, the Chamber of Representatives, approved the measure last month.

“This law is a significant step toward recognizing the rights of homosexual couples,” Diego Sempol, a member of Black Sheep, a gay rights group, told Reuters Television earlier this week.

The tiny Latin American country began recognizing the relationships of gay and lesbian couples last year with civil unions, a move that has placed Uruguay at odds with its more conservative neighbors. Leftist President Tabare Vazquez signed a decree that lifted a decades-old ban on gays serving in the military in May.

The bill was passed over the objections of the Roman Catholic Church. Sixty-six percent of Uruguayans belong to the Catholic church, and half of the world's Catholics live in Latin America.

Nicolas Cotugno, the archbishop of Montevideo, said before the vote that allowing gay couples to adopt would be a “serious error.”

“It's not about religion, philosophy or sociology. It's something which is mainly about the respect of human nature itself,” Catugno said in a statement.