John M. Becker

Chile Gives Final Approval to Civil Unions Bill

Filed By John M. Becker | January 30, 2015 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Chile, civil unions, gay marriage, marriage equality, relationship recognition, same-sex marriage, South America

chile-map.pngLawmakers in the South American nation of Chile gave final approval this week to a bill that will allow all couples, including same-sex couples, to enter into legally recognized civil unions.

The measure, passed on Wednesday, now goes to President Michelle Bachelet, who is widely expected to sign it into law. As we've previously reported here at Bilerico, Bachelet supports full marriage equality for same-sex couples and says that remains her long-term goal, but that civil unions are a stepping stone in that direction. According to the Associated Press, government spokesperson Alvaro Elizalde hailed the bill as "a breakthrough that we are proud of as a government."

The AP report continues:

The measure has been in the works for four years and will give same-sex and unmarried couples many of the rights granted to married couples. Among the changes, it will allow civil union partners to inherit each other's property, join a partner's health plan and receive pension benefits.

Civil unions have been recognized in several countries across South America, but conservative Chile has been slower to change. It decriminalized gay sex in 1999 and the killing of a gay man in 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.

Maria Mercedes Gómez of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission praised the Chilean government, calling the bill "a major step forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Chileans and families."

She also pointed out that while the bill provides civil union partners with almost all the rights of marriage, "the ultimate goal must be full equality before the law, which includes the possibility of marriage."

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