Chile Senate Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions; Must Pass Congress

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Wednesday January 8, 2014

Chile moved one step further toward securing gay rights this month with the Senate approval of same-sex civil unions legislation, which will now pass to a constitutional assembly, and then to Congress on Jan. 20.

"We are happy for this significant progress towards bettering conditions and equality for all families, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identification of its members," read a statement from the Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh). "Today we have made one more step in the struggle for civil unions, which we began a decade ago. What was a dream is now becoming real."

According to the Santiago Times, on the evening of Jan. 7, senators voted in favor of the Life Partner Agreement with 28 in favor, six against and two abstentions. The legislation was introduced in August 2011 by President Sebastián Piñera, but faced two years of stalling and debates due to stiff opposition by the right-wing Independent Democratic Union.

Piñera pressed for this legislation during his May 21, 2013 address, after leading gay rights activists took him to task to fulfill the promises he made at the beginning of his term, promising to turn their gay pride parade into a political demonstration if he did not.

Incoming President-Elect Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist Party candidate, ran on a platform that promised to send a same-sex marriage bill to Congress. Like Piñera, she promised her support for same-sex marriage legislation, but gay activists at Movilh remain skeptical.

"When Michelle Bachelet was last president [2006-2010] she promised three things regarding sexual equality, none of which her administration delivered," Movilh spokesman Oscar Rementería told The Santiago Times. "As such, we cannot have complete confidence that she is going to deliver what she promises this time around."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.