Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Chilean Legislators Approve Same-Sex Civil Unions



After a four-year debate, the Chilean Senate has passed a bill allowing for same-sex unions. The law passed on Wednesday with a vote of 25 to 6, with three abstentions.

Under the new law, called the Acuerdo de Unión Civil (Civil Union Accord—AUC), same-sex couples are afforded many of the rights of married couples, including health, inheritance and pension rights. The law was originally proposed under the Sebastián Piñera administration, coined the Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja (Couple Life Agreement—AVP),  and has been advocated for publically by President Michelle Bachelet, who promised to pass the AUC during her latest presidential campaign.

“We’re very happy that the State recognizes, for the first time, that same-sex couples also constitute a family and deserve protection,” said Luis Larraín, president of the LGBT rights group Fundación Iguales.

While the bill has now passed the Senate and the House of Representatives (on a vote of 78-9), it still needs to be approved by President Michelle Bachelet and then will go to the Constitutional Court. Upon its final approval, Chile will be one of three South American countries to allow same-sex civil unions, along with Colombia and Ecuador. Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay allow same-sex marriage.

Taking the next step to same-sex marriage remains unlikely in Chile, which has historically conservative laws based on Roman Catholic ideology. Divorce was illegal until 2004, and Chile is still one of the few countries in Latin America where abortion for any reason is illegal.

For more on social inclusion in the Americas and to see how each country ranks in LGBT rights, check out the 2014 AQ Social Inclusion Index.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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