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