“A little hope”: Chile legalizes same-sex marriage

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A landmark vote granting equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in Chile has been hailed by campaigners as a triumph and a blow to the conservative agenda of presidential candidate José Antonio Kast.

Kast won the majority of votes in the first round of November, sowing a wave of fear among the LGBTQ + community nationwide. A second round between Kast and his progressive opponent, former leader of the student protest Gabriel Boric, is scheduled for December 19.

While Boric advocates greater rights for minorities, Kast’s agenda is grounded in traditionalist politics shaped by devout Catholic values.

“Equality in marriage is a ray of sunshine, a little hope,” said Isabel Amor, director of the gay rights organization Iguales, who said the LGBTQ + community in the country is at a loss. “Very fragile emotional state” with the threat of a Kast presidency. . “We have to ask ourselves what we will lose if he gets the presidency. “

Kast, who denies being homophobic, said that “society works best with heterosexual couples”; its presidential program offers grants to heterosexual married families with children, deliberately excluding same-sex couples.

In his 16 years as an MP, he has consistently resisted progressive legislation, voting against anti-discrimination law in 2012 and the Civil Union Accord in 2015 – both of which were eventually passed. He fiercely opposed the Gender Identity Bill, which was passed in 2018 to give legal protections to trans people.

The Marriage Equality Bill will grant same-sex couples parental rights, which was not possible under the Civil Union Act. It was first submitted by Michelle Bachelet’s government in 2017, but was overlooked by lawmakers until President Sebastian Piñera granted it urgent status in June. Piñera had previously opposed the law, but said “life” and “meeting people” caused him to change his mind.

Chile is the sixth country in South America to legalize same-sex marriage, joining Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.

“It’s a feeling of peace, justice and social justification,” said Loa Bascuñan, 42, who waits “years” for marriage equality. “It’s more than being able to get married – it’s about being equal. “

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