Social Issues

Same-sex marriage rights: A new dawn for Chile’s LGBT community

By Patricia Nieto Mariño

Santiago, Mar 10 (EFE).- Consuelo Morales and Pabla Heuser met each other 18 years ago, but only recently did those Chilean women have any hope of formalizing their commitment and achieving full joint parental rights through marriage.

On Thursday, that wish came true when they and two other same-sex couples became the first to tie the knot in that traditionally Catholic and conservative South American country.

Morales and Heuser are raising a daughter together and have lived under the same roof since their university days, but until last December Chilean law had not conferred full rights on them as a couple and as parents, they told Efe.

“Since we met nearly 20 years ago, we’d always imagined being able to have a family together. But that had always been a pipe dream. Now it’s a reality,” an emotional Morales said from her home early Thursday.

Just a few hours later, she and Heuser said their “I dos” amid tears and the whoops and hollers of dozens of representatives of sexual diversity platforms in a ceremony at a municipal office in Santiago’s Providencia neighborhood.

“It’s been a historic day for the country,” Fundacion Iguales director Isabel Amor, head of one of that South American country’s most active LGBTQ+ NGOs, told Efe, referring to a same-sex marriage law that took effect on Thursday.

Morales, a 38-year-old social worker, told Efe that her goal has been to serve as a role model for other couples and help break the stigma surrounding same-sex marriage.

Above all, she said she wanted the rights of the children of same-sex couples to be legally recognized.

“Finally, homo-parental families will be just like the rest,” Morales said.

Like many other same-sex couples she and Heuser had enjoyed certain rights under a 2015 law that allowed them to enter into civil unions, known in Chile as Acuerdos de Union Civil (AUCs).

But under that law, their two-year-old daughter Josefa, who had been conceived via reciprocal in-vitro fertilization, only had one parent – Heuser, who had carried her in the womb.

Morales, whose egg was fertilized before being implanted into the uterus of her partner, had no parental rights or responsibilities.

“Since we started making plans to have a daughter, we were very afraid that she’d suffer institutional discrimination,” Heuser, a visual marketer, said.

The children of same-sex couples had fewer rights than the rest, she recalled, adding that they were “the new illegitimate kids of the 21st century.”

Full joint parental rights are a main motivating factor for same-sex couples looking to get married, according to a survey by the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, which found that 77 percent of those people saw marriage as a way to “provide stability for their children.”

Thursday was also a momentous occasion for Javier Silva and Jaime Nazar, two professionals aged 38 and 39 who have been in a relationship since 2015.

“We never thought this would happen. We’d been waiting for many years,” said Silva, the father of two children aged one and four months.

Nazar, for his part, said he was particularly surprised that Chile’s new same-sex marriage and adoption law was approved during the term of conservative President Sebastian Piñera.

Piñera, who signed the bill into law on Dec. 9, in fact played a key role in spurring Congress to act on the legislation, which had been introduced in 2017 under then-President Michelle Bachelet’s center-left administration but been stalled for four years.

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