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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 30, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 05
Chile on track for same-sex civil unions
Section One
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Chile on track for same-sex civil unions

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Chile's House of Representatives has approved a bill to allow same-sex couples to form legally recognized civil unions. According to La Tercera newspaper, the January 20 vote was a comfortable 86-23, with two abstentions.

The Chilean Senate passed a similar bill last October, and is expected to approve the amended House version before the end of the month.

The civil unions bill was first introduced under Chile's conservative former President Sebastian Pinera as an alternative to same-sex marriage. Socialist President Michelle Bachelet campaigned for real marriage equality, but said she would sign the civil unions bill into law.

Jaime Parada Hoyl, a Gay councilman from the Santiago neighborhood of Providencia, welcomed the new law, but regretted that marriage was not on the agenda.

'It is good news for the equality of rights in Chile, but it is not the best,' Parada told the Washington Blade shortly after the vote.

'Chile today should be discussing marriage equality with good legislative work, and above all with political will. The votes are there, or at the very least they are missing very few. My worry is that this (civil unions) bill, positive in its essence, will further delay full legal equality.'

Hunter T. Carter, an American attorney representing the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MoHIL) in a case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, also welcomed the bill but said the measure falls short of offering full equality to Gay and Lesbian couples.

'I regret that Chile is illogically repeating a bad history with a concept that is distinct - and inferior - from marriage that in all other experiences has been considered inferior, confusing and a perpetuation of discrimination based on false stereotypes and dogmatic myths,' Carter told the Washington Blade.

'We will continue to fight tirelessly until Chilean same-sex couples are able to enjoy full civil marriage equality under the law.'

MoHIL filed a 2012 lawsuit with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of three Chilean Gay couples seeking equal marriage rights.

The LGBT rights group nevertheless celebrated the victory.

'We dedicate this day, this moment, to the gay and lesbian families that have suffered a historic burden of misunderstanding and prejudices,' MoHIL President Rolando Jimenez said in a statement. 'Today it will be the state's turn to strengthen them and protect them on equal terms.'

Gay Congressman Claudio Arriagada, Chile's first openly Gay national politician, echoed MoHIL's sentiments.

'People of the same-sex will have the opportunity to demonstrate that they have the right to be happy,' he told La Tercera.

Not everyone was happy with the result, however. Javier Soto, a pastor from the resort city of Viña del Mar, claimed that God had sparked a massive forest fire in the port city of Valparaiso last spring because he knew that Chilean lawmakers were going to pass the civil unions bill.

The Chilean government said on January 20 that it will file a formal complaint against Soto after he allegedly threatened Arriagada.

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