Historic victory for Chile’s LGBTQ + community



December 14, 2021

Chile celebrated a human rights victory last week as a law allowing same-sex marriage was passed by the legislative chambers on December 7. The advance is backed by current right-wing president Sebastián Piñera – who is likely to sign the law after changing his mind on the matter – but is criticized by other conservative politicians.

In addition, it was read as a provocation against José Antonio Kast, the far-right candidate for the presidential election whose second round will take place on December 19. That’s because Kast – whose father was in the Nazi Party, as surveys have shown – is a strong advocate of heteronormacia and other conservative policies, and reaffirmed that belief regarding the new law.

Same-sex couples had already acquired certain rights through civil unions in 2015, but the bill requiring legal marriage had been pending for four years, since former President Michelle Bachelet (now High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights) introduced the bill. The passage of this legislation is another progressive step that grants same-sex couples the rights to adoption and assisted reproduction, and exempts trans people from the obligation to divorce in order for their gender to be recognized. According to Human Rights Watch, the role of Chilean activists in the recognition of LGBTQ + rights is remarkable.

Earlier this year, on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, celebrated on May 17, the University of Chile published an opinion piece by Margarita Bustos, coordinator of the field of Sexual Diversity. and gender at the Office of Equity and Inclusion, in which she highlights “the increase in violence, the attacks resulting in death, social political groups organized with hate speech through social networks and the press”.

Likewise, the annual Chile Human Rights Report 2021 also highlights that LGBTQ + people, along with women, are among those most affected by structural gender inequalities and discrimination, which add to a cover-up. history of this violence. While the new legislation brings hope, as people from marginalized communities are represented in the group at the convention drafting Chile’s future new Constitution, the document points out that “the negligible percentage they represented – around 1 , 5% of the candidates for the Convention – in particular trans people, shows that more measures are needed to put in place adequate policies guaranteeing the same civil and human rights to this population.

The advance of LGBTQ + rights in Chile deserves to be celebrated, indeed. However, it is also remarkable that it has taken so far to recognize a fundamental right, which has met with strong resistance. In addition, we must take into account that the authorization of same-sex marriage is only one step. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay and several Mexican states have already legalized this right, but still have not been able to implement public policies capable of stop gender-based violence or stimulate the inclusion of LGBTQ + in education and the workforce, – especially for trans and queer people, who suffer the most from prejudice. Brazil is probably the best example: same-sex marriage has been allowed since 2013, homophobia is considered a crime, but it is still the country with one of the highest crime rates against this community.

May the victory in Chile be followed by the real acceptance of LGBTQ + people.

Photo by Teddy Österblom

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