Chile legalized same-sex marriage on Tuesday as societal norms in the predominantly Catholic country shift. The bill was first introduced in Congress in 2017. Chile’s Congress passed the bill with majorities in both chambers, making it the eighth Latin American country and the thirty-first worldwide to allow same-sex marriage. After a decade-long legal battle, the legalization of same-sex marriage is a watershed moment for the conservative South American nation. The law will take effect 90 days after its publication in the Official Gazette.
Chile’s Senate and lower house of parliament both voted heavily in favor of the bill on Tuesday, which had previously been partially approved in November before the Senate sent it back to a committee to clarify ambiguities. President Pinera’s predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, was the first to introduce the measure, in 2017. This year, Pinera’s government-backed marriage equality firmly.
For married same-sex couples, the law recognizes parental ties, full spousal benefits, and adoption rights. It will also replace gendered terminology in the country’s civil code and other legislation with the words “spouse” and “parent,” among other modifications. Since 2015, civil unions have been legal in Chile, providing same-sex partners with many of the privileges that married couples have, such as the right to adopt.
Jaime Bellolio, the Government Spokesperson, said that the approval of this proposal during this presidential term is an honor for the Government of Chile. Concerning the legalization of same-sex marriage, he stated, “[a]s a Government we believe in the protection of children and adolescents, we believe in the family and in the institution of marriage and this is a way in which it is protected.” Bellolio further added:
What we are advancing today is not only for those thousands and thousands of people who were waiting for equal marriage to be approved, but we are advancing for all Chilean women and men, because we are advancing in recognition, respect, and embracing the difference, in embracing the diversity of different opinions, different orientations, and different identities. That is what it is all about, moving towards a fairer, more respectful, more tolerant, and dignified country.