HRC Blog

Chile Senate Moves Transgender Rights Bill Forward

Post submitted by Noah Montague, HRC Global Engagement Intern 

On Tuesday, January 21st, the Chilean Senate advanced a bill allowing transgender Chileans to legally change their name and sex without being required to have sex reassignment surgery or hormonal treatments and psychological or psychiatric assessments. The bill marks a huge step forward for LGBT and, more specifically, transgender rights in Chile.

The bill passed with a vote of 29 to 0 with 3 abstentions. Legislators in Chile will have the opportunity to make amendments to the bill up until March 3.

Paula Dinamarca, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, one of the most prominent LGBT rights groups in Chile, applauded the actions of the Senate. 

“To be called by the name that you want and to be identified with the sex of which we are part is a human right that nobody can deny,” she said in a statement  

The bill’s progress is the latest victory in string of pro-LGBT legislation passed in Chile in recent months. In October 2013 the Chilean government passed a hate crimes law which included protection on the basis of sexual orientation. The passage of this bill stemmed from the conviction of four men who brutally assaulted and murdered Daniel Zamudio – a young gay Chilean living in Santiago. Additionally, earlier this month Chile passed a bill in the Senate that would allow for civil unions to take place.

Although Chile faces staunch opposition from evangelical groups, many politicians have advocated for greater rights and protections for the LGBT community in Chile. Former President and current President-Elect Michelle Bachelet, who is wildly popular among Chileans, has voiced her support for both the bill legalizing civil-unions in Chile, and the bill advocating for legal name and sex change without the need for hormone therapy or gender-reassignment surgery and psychiatric tests. In addition, she was a supporter of the inclusion of sexual orientation on the recent passage of the hate crimes bill.

Chile, while one of the most developed countries in Latin America, has long been considered one of the most socially conservative countries in the region, only having legalized divorce in 2004, and having one of the world’s strictest laws on abortion. While less progressive on LGBT issues than other countries in the Southern Cone such as Uruguay and Argentina, these recent legislations have moved Chile progressively forward.   

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