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Post submitted by Ernesto Zelayandia, HRC Global Fellow 

Today marks a historical day for Chile as the nation’s civil union law comes into force. This law will allow both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabiting couples to register and gain access to healthcare, pension and property inheritance rights. 

The Law For All Families passed in the Chilean Senate with a 25-6 vote and in the House of Representatives with a 78-9 vote in January and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed it into law in April. This legislation represents a victory for the Chilean LGBT movement, which has been working towards legal recognition of same-sex partners for over 10 years.

According to local advocates and government officials in an interview with the BBC, a law of this nature would have been “unthinkable” just 10 years ago. While same-sex activity was decriminalized 15 years ago, civil divorce has only been allowed since 2004.

In an interview with local newspaper La Nación, government spokesperson Marcelo Diaz recognized this legislation as a landmark and congratulated civil society and President Bachelet’s government for making it a reality. “We are making Chile a more inclusive country, a country that recognizes the diversity of our people,” he stated.

Earlier this week, Luis Larrain, president of Iguales, one of the most prominent LGBT organizations in the South American country, stopped by HRC´s office in Washington, D.C., to meet with HRC staff. Luis and the staff talked about this historic event and discussed strategies for advancing the rights of LGBT persons in other aspects of public life.

“As of today the Chilean State recognizes that same-sex couples are a family. I feel an emotion I cannot describe,” Larrain explained earlier today after the first couples began registering their unions.

HRC congratulates Chile for making this important step towards full and equal recognition of same-sex couples under the law. 

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