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Chile legalizes same-sex marriage in landmark vote

SANTIAGO – Chilean Congress on Tuesday passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, a milestone for the conservative South American nation after a decade-long legal battle and with the country delicately ready ahead of an election at a crossroads this month – this.

“Today is a historic day, our country has approved same-sex marriage, one more step in terms of justice, in terms of equality, recognizing that love is love,” said Minister of Social Development Karla Rubilar after the vote.

The Chilean Senate and the lower house of parliament both voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill on Tuesday, which had already been partially approved in November before the Senate referred it to a committee to clarify ambiguities.

Current President Sebastian Pinera, who will step down in March, has backed the bill and is expected to sign it.

The vote marks the culmination of a process that began in 2007, when then-President Michelle Bachelet pushed Congress to pass same-sex legislation. Chile is now set to join 30 other countries where same-sex marriage is legal – including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay in Latin America – according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“It is hard to believe that today we are taking this step,” said Rolando Jimenez of LGBTQ rights group Movilh, one of the main supporters of the bill and who contributed to Chile’s push. to legalize same-sex marriage for over a decade.

Chile will elect a new president on December 19, choosing between progressive Gabriel Boric and social conservative Jose Antonio Kast, a practicing Catholic. The two offer very different visions of the future of the country.

While Kast disagrees with same-sex marriage, he had said he would have signed the bill anyway had it been passed by Congress during a possible presidency.

Chile has long had a conservative reputation even compared to its deeply Catholic peers in Latin America. Yet a strong majority of Chileans now support same-sex marriage, and Chileans have shown signs of shifting left on social and cultural issues in recent years.

Civil unions have been allowed in Chile since 2015, which offers same-sex partners many, but not all, benefits of married couples, such as the right to adoption.

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Brooke Sopelsa contributed.



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