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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 12, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 50
Chilean coalition will introduce same-sex marriage bill
Section One
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Chilean coalition will introduce same-sex marriage bill

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A group of lawmakers from parties in Chile's governing New Majority coalition say they will introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

The bill is expected to be introduced on December 11, with support from members of the Socialist Party, Christian Democrats, Party for Democracy, and the Broad Social Movement.

Christian Democrat Deputy Gabriel Silber said that it was important that 'equal feelings, must have equal rights - there is no reason to have first and second class citizens.

'We hope that the Government sponsors the initiative and drives its progress by giving it proper priority. We will meet with government ministers once we table the bill, for co-sponsorship.'

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist, supports marriage equality in principle, and the lawmakers said they hope her government will lend its support to their bill. Bachelet introduced civil union legislation this year, which has been passed by Chile's Senate.

The civil union bill has yet to be voted on by the Chamber of Deputies, although Bachelet has been promising legal recognition for same-sex couples since before her first term as president in 2006-2010. She began her second - non-consecutive - term in March this year.

The New Majority coalition, which includes the Socialists and supports Bachelet's government, has a majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate so the outlook for marriage equality in Chile seems promising.

On the other hand, the right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI) remains the largest political party in the country, with about 20% of the vote. UDI includes the so-called 'military family' - die hard supporters of the late dictator General Augusto Pinochet. They are opposed to rights for Chile's LGBT community.

In some ways, Chilean politics are still divided along lines established by Pinochet's bloody 1973 coup, in which democratically-elected Socialist President Salvador Allende was overthrown and killed.

Bachelet's father was an Air Force general who remained loyal to the democratic Allende government. He was arrested and tortured to death by Pinochet's henchmen.

Her opponent in the 2013 presidential election, UDI candidate Evelyn Matthei, was also the daughter of a general and had been Bachelet's childhood friend, until her father supported Pinochet's coup.

Pinochet's grandson, Augusto Pinochet Molina, recently announced he was starting his own right-wing anti-Gay political party.

If the marriage bill passes in both houses of Chile's legislature, the country will be the fourth in South America to recognize same-sex marriage, the others being Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Colombia and Ecuador recognize civil unions.

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