First Openly Gay National Legislator Elected in Chile
November 19, 2013 by Limor Finkel, Global Engagement Program Coordinator
On Sunday, Claudio Arriagada became the first openly gay man elected to national office in Chile. Arriagada, who came out this past August, ran with the centrist Christian Democratic Party and will join 119 other officials in the Chamber of Deputies for a four-year term.
Prior to his election as a national deputy, Arriagada was the mayor of La Granja, a city a few miles outside the capital of Santiago. Arriagada was not out while serving as mayor, but was prompted to come public regarding his sexuality while running for national office. In an interview from August, Arriagada stated that being closeted “makes you vulnerable and can be used to threaten you.”
While Arriagada is the country's first gay national lawmaker, he joins several other publicly out municipal officials in Chile -- including Jaime Parada Hoyl, who became the first openly gay elected official last October. Just last year, Chilean voters also elected two transgender council members to office, Councilmember Alejandra Gonzalez, who was elected for her third term in Lampa, and Councilmember Zuliana Araya in Valparaiso.
These elected officials represent a significant stride for the equality of LGBT people in the government, coming just a year after the horrific murder of Daniel Zamudio, a 24-year-old gay man living in Santiago. His brutal attack and subsequent death led the Chilean government to pass a hate crimes law that includes protection on the basis of sexual orientation, and has sparked a national conversation on hate crimes in the country.
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