In a historic move, Chile’s Congress approved same-sex marriage by a huge majority on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. The country is now the eighth country in Latin America to do so, and the 31st in the world. Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in Chile, which is known for its conservative politics, was introduced four years ago, but remained stagnant until now. The news comes the same week that a bill seeking to expand abortion rights in the country was rejected. It joins LATAM nations including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay in legalizing gay marriage.
“Today is a historic day, our country has approved same-sex marriage, one more step forward in terms of justice, in terms of equality, recognizing that love is love,” said the country’s Minister of Social Development Karla Rubilar, according to NBC News.
Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera, who is set leave office in March 22, was against approving same-sex marriage legislation for years. However in June 2021, he announced that his perspective had changed and subsequently supported the bill, which was passed in a landslide by both the country’s Senate and lower house of Parliament, ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
“I think the time has come to guarantee that freedom and that dignity to all people,” President Piñera said in his annual address to Congress on June 1. “I think the time has come for marriage equality in our country,” he said.
The journey for the LGBTQI+ community in Chile to obtain the right to be married essentially began in 2007, when then-president, Michelle Bachelet, urged Congress to pass a law allowing same-sex marriage. President Bachelet, who served multiple terms as president of Chile, however, did not introduce a same-sex marriage bill until the end of her second term in 2017, two years after same-sex civil unions were made legal in the country.
That same bill from 2017 is what was just approved this week. The main difference between this year’s legislation, and the civil union legislation that was passed in 2015, is that same-sex couples will now be allowed full parental rights and spousal rights, and it will allow same-sex couples to legally adopt children.
President Piñera is expected to sign the bill into law before he leaves office in March. He will be replaced by either conservative presidential candidate, Jose Antonio Cast, who recently said that he would also have signed the bill if it had come to pass after he is elected, and leftist, Millenial candidate, Gabriel Boric, who has more progressive views.
“Tears and joy. What a powerful mix. Equal marriage is law in Chile. Yes, it is law. Here is our statement, after 30 years of struggle,” Movilh Chile, a LGTBQIA+ rights organization in Chile, tweeted. “The homophobia, hetero-normativity and inequality that characterized it, to the detriment of LGBTIA + people, has come to an end,” they added in a statement.
Lágrimas y alegría. Qué mezcla más poderosa.❤️❤️❤️ El matrimonio igualitario es ley en Chile. Sí, es ley. Aquí nuestra declaración, tras 30 años de lucha: https://t.co/9z1m9HWlaP pic.twitter.com/49zvNV5Mp6
— Movilh Chile (@Movilh) December 7, 2021