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Chilean House of Representatives Passed Bill Legalizing Civil Unions
Last week Chile’s House of Representatives made history by passing a bill that would allow lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals to enter into civil unions. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority, with 86 representatives voting in favor, 23 voting against the bill, and two abstentions. Next, the bill will go to the Senate, where it is expected to pass and become law. If this happens, Chile will join a handful of countries in Latin America that allow same-sex civil unions or marriages, including Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Mexico.
Specifically, Chile’s civil union bill would allow couples that live together – regardless of gender – to register their union and receive benefits. Among these benefits are the ability to adopt under certain circumstances and the right to inherit community property after the death of a partner.
Notably, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet supports the bill and has vocalized her belief that it’s a stepping-stone towards the legalization of same-sex marriage. However, public opinion polls have indicated that Chileans are much more divided on the issue of same-sex marriage than civil unions.
Also on the docket in the South American nation is a controversial abortion bill. Currently Chile is one of the few countries in the world that criminalizes abortion in all circumstances. However, the government recently committed to present proposed legislation by the end of this month containing three legal exceptions for abortion. These exceptions would decriminalize abortion in the cases of rape, fetal malformation, and to save the life of the pregnant woman.
While both the legalization of civil unions and the decriminalization of abortion in certain cases show the country’s progress, there’s still much more work to be done to ensure equality and protection under the law for all Chilean citizens – regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.