Bolivia for the first time has recognized the union of a gay couple. The recognition comes after a two-year legal battle.

David Aruquipa and Guido Montano, both in their forties, have been together for 11 years. In 2018, they applied to register their union but were denied. Authorities said that the nation's laws did not recognize same-sex unions.

The men filed a lawsuit, successfully arguing that the state's denial “violated international human rights standards and constituted discrimination under Bolivian law,” Reuters reported.

The Bolivian Constitution defines a “free union” as a heterosexual union with the same effects as civil marriage.

During a news conference, the men said that the ruling was an example that Bolivian society was “transforming” to become more accepting of people who identify as LGBT.

Human Rights Watch had called on Bolivia's national civil registry to abide by the court's ruling to register the couple's relationship as a free union.

“Gay and lesbian couples are an integral part of Bolivia's social fabric and deserve to be recognized by the state and its institutions,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “All civil registries in Bolivia should stop treating them like second class citizens and start recognizing their unions.”

Gay and lesbian couples can marry in several Latin American nations – despite strong opposition from religious groups – including Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and much of Mexico.