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Chilean Government Will Not Defend Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The Chilean government has announced it will not defend its ban on same-sex marriage following a lawsuit brought against the state by marriage equality advocates and presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, The Washington Blade reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb07e4a0d6970d-150wi (2)Members of President Michelle Bachelet’s administration on Tuesday met with representatives of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, an LGBT advocacy group, in Santiago, the Chilean capital, to finalize “an amicable settlement” in the case filed in 2012 on behalf of three same-sex couples who are seeking marriage rights in the South American country.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in a press release it posted to its website said the government’s decision to end opposition to nuptials for gays and lesbians in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights case is part of a broader agreement that includes the introduction of a same-sex marriage bill in the Chilean Congress.

“We left the meeting very satisfied,” said the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation.“We appreciate the government’s good disposition towards our proposals and principles, which stress that marriage equality is a human rights issue.” 

Last month, Chile's Senate passed a bill that would allow same-sex couples in Chile to enter into same-sex unions. President Bachelet has said she will sign that bill. Still, advocates for full marriage equality vow to continue their fight despite this new legislation:

It remains unclear when the Bachelet administration and the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation will formally introduce the same-sex marriage bill in the Chilean Congress.

[Hunter T. Carter, a New York-based lawyer who represents the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in the Inter-American Court on Human Rights case] told the Blade the lawsuit before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will move forward in spite of the Chilean government’s new position.

“We’re going to continue the fight,” he said. “We are not going to drop the case until marriage is enacted in Chile.”


Tribute To Gay Chilean Writer Pedro Lemebel Who Died Last Friday

Lemebel

The Chilean LGBT community lost an icon last Friday with the death of Pedro Lemebel. 

A writer, activist, and provocateur, Lemebel was referred to as "a fighter for social justice and defender of freedom,” by the president of Chile herself, Michelle Bachelet. Our very own Garth Greenwell has written a tribute in The New Yorker to the late writer, describing the accomplishments of a man that many of us may have never known about:

Lemebel defined himself against establishments of all kinds: against Pinochet’s military dictatorship, but also against the Marxist resistance that condemned homosexuality as a bourgeois vice; against the neoliberal consensus behind Chile’s “economic miracle,” but also against the L.G.B.T. activists who Lemebel believed were making commodities of queer suffering and queer lives.

A crowd of hundreds gathered for his funeral in Santiago last Saturday. He died of laryngeal cancer. 

Few of Lemebel's works have been translated into English, but if you would like to experience the author's works his 2001 novel My Tender Matador is one of those that made it stateside and can be found on iBooks, Amazon, and Google Play for about $8-10.

Read Greenwell's tribute here


Chilean Senate Approves Civil Unions in 25-6 Vote; President Has Promised to Sign

Same-sex civil unions are set to become the law in Chile after the Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill passed by the House last week that President Michelle Bachelet (pictured) has said she will sign, the Washington Blade reports:

BacheletThe Chilean Senate approved the measure by a 25-6 vote margin with three abstentions. The bill passed in the country’s House of Representatives by a 78-9 vote margin.

“A historic step against discrimination and for the advancement of human rights has taken place today with the passage of the civil unions bill,” said the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, in a statement.

AFP adds:

The law, which has been in the works for four years, gives legal recognition to unmarried couples and ensures their rights to receive pensions, enroll in health plans and inherit property from one another.

It also gives them greater standing in child custody cases.


Chilean House of Representatives Approves Civil Unions Bill

The Chilean House of Representatives has passed a bill that would legalize civil unions for same-sex couples, The Washington Blade reports: 

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6f0ecfa970b-200wi“People of the same-sex will have the opportunity to demonstrate that they have the right to be happy,” said gay Congressman Claudio Arriagada Macaya after the vote,according to La Tercera.

Rolando Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, also praised the vote.

“We dedicate this day, this moment, to the gay and lesbian families that have suffered a historic burden of misunderstanding and prejudices,” he said in a statement. “Today it will be the state’s turn to strengthen them and protect them on equal terms.”

The bill, which passed by a vote of 86-23, was first approved by Chile's Senate. President Michelle Bachelet is expected to sign the bill.

Another bill introduced in December would have gone further than the current civil unions bill, providing instead full marriage rights to same-sex couples. Jaime Parada Hoyl, a gay councilman in the Santiago community of Providencia, expressed concern that this current bill will derail more ambitious strides towards full equality for LGBT Chileans:

“It is good news for the equality of rights in Chile, but it is not the best,” Parada told the Blade late on Tuesday as he discussed the outcome of the civil unions bill. “Chile today should be discussing marriage equality with good legislative work, and above all with political will. The votes are there, or at the very least they are missing very few. My worry is that this (civil unions) bill, positive in its essence, will further delay full legal equality.”


Evangelical Pastor Has Violent Anti-Gay Meltdown, Attacks Deputy in Chilean Congress: VIDEOS

Soto

An anti-gay evangelical pastor named Javier Soto was ejected from the Chilean House of Deputies yesterday and began attacking lawmakers for approving an LGBT-inclusive initiative that would give legal protections to unmarried couples.

Soto burst into the chamber holding a poster for the AVP (Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja) bill, yelling (translation via euronews):

"Record, gentlemen... This is the filth they are offering up? To Chileans, this is perversion. This half-naked man… look at this and film it, gentlemen. This is what Mr. Rolando Jimenez (spokesperson for gay rights group Homosexual Movement of Integration and Liberation) does. Just look. Tell me otherwise."

He added: "I am an evangelical pastor and defend the gospel, gentlemen. Does this not lack modesty and decency?"

Soto then proceeded to go into full meltdown mode, and attacked Deputy Peter Brown before being ejected from the room.

The debate caused concern for the safety of lawmakers as nobody knew how Soto had gained access to the chamber but LGBT rights group MOVIHL told Noticia Cristina that it was by the invitation of another Deputy, Jorge Sabag.

Watch videos of the incident, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Same-Sex Marriage Rights Bill Introduced In Chile

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 1.32.32 PM

Chilean lawmakers and a LGBT advocacy group, The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, introduced a bill on Saturday that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Chile reports the Washington BladeThe proposal that was introduced with the help of Congressman Gabriel Silber Romo of the Christian Democratic Party would change the wording of "a man and a woman," to "two people," in Chile’s marriage law. The proposal will also change "husband and wife," to "spouse," and amend the concept of procreation to "raise children." The Liberation advocacy group is hoping to eliminate discrimination and establish equality with the bill.

Said Liberation:

"With this bill we are looking to eradicate the historic discrimination that affects people simply for loving and living with someone of the same sex. Respect for family diversity is at the heart of this bill that we celebrate with backing throughout the political world and also with the broad support of citizen organizations."

The bill comes after the Chilean Senate voted in favor of legalizing same sex unions in October throughout the country, but members of the Chilean House of Deputies have yet to vote on the proposal.

The origin of the gay marriage bill began in 2012 when the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of lesbian Judge Karen Atala who lost custody of her three daughters to her ex-husband seven years earlier because of her sexual orientation. The Chilean government apologized to Atala, paid her $70,000 and provided medical and psychological care. The Liberation group then filed a lawsuit with the Court of Human Rights on behalf of three gay couples seeking marriage rights, although then-President Sebastián Piñera's government argued against the redefinition of marriage in a brief filed with the lawsuit in November 2013. 

However, current President Michelle Bachelet publicly supports the new bill, and members of the Liberation group and representatives of Bachelet's Cabinet discussed the marriage lawsuit in a meeting held in Santiago on Nov. 25. However, the outcome of the meeting, and what was discussed within it, have not been disclosed in full to the public. Rolando Jiménez, President of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, discussed Liberation's collaboration with members of Bachelet's Cabinet.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 1.28.11 PMSaid Jiménez:

"We want to contribute significantly to the government’s interest in amplifying the debate about these issues and thus advance the approval of this norm. The marriage equality law is part of a presidential agenda for the first time, and it therefore provides the best conditions for the advancement of equality. The current marriage law is homophobic because it excludes people based on their sexual orientation. Today we are moving forward toward the end of this unjust reality."


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