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Chile president signs hate crime bill

Chile enacted an anti-discrimination law Thursday following the March beating death of a young gay man in a Santiago park. The hate crime bill [materials, in Spanish], which had been tied up in Congress for seven years after being originally introduced by ex-president Ricardo Lagos, was signed into law by President Sebastian Pinera [official profile, in Spanish], providing for harsher sentences and fines up to USD $3,600 for those accused of hate crimes. Conservative Pinera has been under fire on social issues [Reuters report] from students, union workers and environmentalists since taking office in 2010, with his approval ratings setting at the lowest levels for a Chilean leader since the end of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in 1990. Daniel Zamudio, 24, was attacked by a group of alleged neo-Nazis who reportedly beat him for an hour, burned him with cigarettes and carved swastikas into his skin. He died [AP report] in a public hospital 20 days afterward.

The Chilean House of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] passed the hate crime bill [JURIST report] in early April. In late March, following Zamudio's death, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] had urged the Chilean government [JURIST report] to pass an anti-discrimination law. Earlier that month the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] urged member states to put an end to sexual orientation-based violence [JURIST report] and discrimination. Last year the UNHRC passed the "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution [draft, PDF], the first resolution to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide [JURIST report]. The UN has attempted to pass resolutions aimed at ending sexuality discrimination worldwide but has faced difficulty passing resolutions on gay rights issues.

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