Chile’s congress approves same-sex marriage

Santiago, Dec 7 (EFE).- The Chilean congress on Tuesday approved an historic bill legalizing same-sex marriage, an initiative that was put forward more than four years ago and which has been one of the major goals of the country’s LGBTI community.

The bill was debated in the lower house, where it was approved in an 82-20 vote, with two abstentions in a session that ended with a round of applause.

A few hours earlier, the measure had obtained the green light from the upper chamber in a 21-8 vote with three abstentions.

With the approval of the bill, Chile becomes the eighth Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, following in the footsteps of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Ecuador, Costa Rica and several individual states in Mexico.

The law allows unions between persons of the same sex to be defined as “marriage” and also facilitates the adoption and parenting of children by both male-male and female-female couples, one of the key points in the debate.

The decision was hailed by Chilean LGBTI organizations, who for weeks have been urging the bill’s passage in parliament and who issued a public call for a celebration on Tuesday afternoon on Santiago’s central Plaza Italia.

“This is an historic step. At last, we’re ending structural inequalities and we’re dignifying people of sexual and gender diversity,” Ramon Gomez, the director of human rights for the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh).

The same-sex marriage bill was presented to congress in 2017 thanks to a push by former Socialist President Michelle Bachelet, who governed from 2014-2018, but it remained stalled in the legislature for almost four years.

Last July, in a surprise move, the current president, conservative Sebastian Piñera, said that the “time has come” to approve the bill and instructed the Parliament to debate it with urgency with an eye toward bringing it to a vote.

The announcement came like a bucket of cold water on the Chilean right’s most conservative factions, who voted against the bill and last week called for another week of parliamentary discussion and debate.

Up to now, and since 2015, gay people have only been able to enter into marriage-like unions under the legal protection of the Civil Union Agreement, which does not recognize parenting rights.

EFE pnm/rfg/psh/bp

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