HRC Blog

Chilean Senate Committee Approves Life Partnership Agreement

Post submitted by Yushuang Sun, HRC Global Engagement Intern

A Chilean Senate committee voted on Tuesday to advance the Life Partner Agreement (AVP) that would legalize civil unions between same-sex couples.

The bill was introduced in 2011 by former President Sebastian Piñera and, earlier this year, the Senate approved the idea of legislating the bill with a 28-6 vote.

President Michelle Bachelet, who took office in March, is among those who support the measure.

The country’s leading LGBTQ organization, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, hailed the outcome as a significant step forward in “recognizing that there are distinct types of family and that all of them deserve protection.”

Conversely, there are some critics that fear this bill is simply a mechanism to delay or shutdown the discussion on same-sex marriage. Former President Piñera, who signed a hate crime bill into law in 2012, remains opposed to full marriage and adoption equality.

Chilean general attitudes towards gay marriage are improving, with over 50% of the population favoring marriage equality. Yet, hate crimes continue. In last October, 21-year-old gay man Wladimir Sepulveda was attacked in the town of San Francisco de Mostazal as he walked home, arm-in-arm with another man. Only three months later, Esteban Parada Armijo, 22, died in Santiago after two men stabbed him in a neighborhood where a number of gay bars are located.

While the Chilean Constitution still embraces the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman and hate crimes continue, local LGBTQ activists remain hopeful that the passage of AVP could be a prelude to the legalization of marriage equality.

If the Life Partner Agreement continues to push through the Senate, Chile will join its South American counterparts as currently Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil allow same-sex marriages while Colombia and Ecuador recognize some form of civil unions between same-sex couples.

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