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Chile votes to legalise same-sex marriage

4 min read

Better Society
Source: Unsplash

Chilean Congress has overwhelmingly approved a landmark law allowing same-sex marriage in the historically Catholic country.

Same-sex marriage bill signed by Chilean President Piñera

According to a fresh entry on Wikipedia, the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Chile was signed by President Sebastián Piñera on Thursday 9 December 2021 and marriages will be performed in civil registry offices 90 days after the bill is published in the Diario Oficial de la República de Chile. Chile previously recognised civil unions, offering some of the rights of marriage for same-sex and opposite-sex couples, beginning on 22 October 2015.

President Michelle Bachelet introduces the same-sex marriage bill to Congress. Source: WikimediaCommons

‘Love is love:’ Chile legalises same-sex marriage

Chile’s Congress passed a law to legalise same-sex marriage on Tuesday, in a milestone for the conservative South American nation after a decade-long legal battle and with the country delicately poised ahead of a crossroads election this month.

"Today is a historic day, our country has approved same-sex marriage, one more step forward in terms of justice, in terms of equality, recognising that love is love," Minister of Social Development Karla Rubilar said after the vote.

Chile’s Senate and lower house of parliament both voted heavily in favor of the bill on Tuesday, which had previously been partially approved in November before the Senate sent it back to a committee to clarify ambiguities.

Current President Sebastian Piñera, who will leave office in March, has backed the bill and signed it into law on Thursday 9 December 2021. 

Source: Reuters

Others include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and 18 states in Mexico and Mexico City.
Chile joins a handful of Latin American countries to recognise marriage between same-sex couples. Others include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and 18 states in Mexico and Mexico City. Source: Pexels/Ivan Samkov

Chile must “guarantee this freedom and dignity to all people” says president

President Piñera had vowed to push the legislation through parliament during his annual State of the Union address in June this year.

In comments that stunned some of his conservative allies, he said in his address that Chile must "guarantee this freedom and dignity to all people".

"I think we should deepen the value of freedom, including the freedom to love and to form a family with a loved one. Also the value of the dignity of all relationships of love and affection between two people," the right-wing leader added.

The move had faced strong criticism from some of the president’s allies, including evangelical lawmaker Leonidas Romero of the National Renewal (RN) party.

Mr Romero had described the law change as "a tremendous betrayal for the Christian world".

Source: BBC

It was first submitted by Michelle Bachelet’s government in 2017 but was neglected by lawmakers until given urgent status by president Sebastian Piñera in June. Piñera previously opposed the law but said “life” and “meeting people” had led him to change his mind.
The equal marriage bill will allow same-sex couples parental rights, which was not possible under the Civil Union act. It was first submitted by Michelle Bachelet’s government in 2017 but was neglected by lawmakers until given urgent status by president Sebastian Piñera in June. Piñera previously opposed the law but said “life” and “meeting people” had led him to change his mind. Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

new law extends full parental rights to same sex parents

Existing laws allow gay couples to unite under a Civil Union Pact, which was approved in 2015 and gives couples many of the same rights as married but denies them the right to adopt.

The new law will extend full parental rights to same sex parents and expand spousal benefits and adoption rights for married same-sex couples.

Piñera’s public change of heart prompted the bill’s recent expedited push through the legislature after it languished in both houses of Congress for four years. It was first introduced in 2017 by then-President Michelle Bachelet.

Rights activists spent more than a decade campaigning for the change, including MOVILH, one of the major backers of the bill.

"After centuries of abuse," the LGBTQ rights group said in a tweet, "the doors of justice, equality and dignity have opened to same sex couples."

The move comes less than two weeks ahead of a polarising election—a runoff—in which Chileans must decide whether to replace Piñera with far-right populist Jose Antonio Kast or Gabriel Boric, a young leftist former student leader.

On Tuesday Kast, a Catholic who does not support gay marriage and has opposed the measure in the past, revealed that he would have signed the bill into law anyway if he had been president, Reuters reported. 

Source: NPR.org

The law, which will come into effect 90 days after it is published in the Official Gazette, was cheered by rights groups and couples, opening the door for both parents in a same sex couple to receive full legal recognition. “This is cause for all Chilean society to celebrate,” said Isabel Amor, executive director of equality group Iguales. “Not only will people who have a same-sex relationship be able to marry, but hundreds of children and adolescents will get recognition for their two mothers or two fathers.” Source: Unsplash/Nick Karvounis
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