HISTORIC: Gender Identity Law Takes Effect in Chile

by Milagros Chirinos

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, hailed the passage of a Gender Identity Law -- or Ley de Identidad de Género in Chile -- signed by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. The measure allows transgender people over the age of 14 to update their names on legal documents and guarantees their right to be officially addressed according to their true gender.

“This historic decision marks a milestone for LGBTQ rights in Chile and in South America,” said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “We commend the efforts of all the LGBTQ advocates involved, including our Chilean partners at Fundación Iguales, who worked tirelessly for five years to achieve this victory. While this legislation removes roadblocks for many trans people, there is still important progress to be made -- especially for transgender youth.”

“The rights that were excluded from transgender people in Chile are being acknowledged at last,” said Juan Enrique Pi Arriagada, Executive President of Fundación Iguales. “After years of fighting to ensure their legal recognition, we celebrate this historic triumph that will change the lives of many of those who, for far too long, lacked protections and lived in the shadows. While we celebrate this historic landmark, we must keep working to continue the fight towards full equality.”

In another historic development in Latin America, Uruguay enacted a groundbreaking law last month expanding the country’s existing gender identity law to include transgender people under the age of 18 and providing important additional protections. These include a right to access gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy, reserving one percent of government jobs for transgender people, and establishing a pension fund to compensate transgender people who were persecuted during Uruguay's military dictatorship.

While Chile’s new law is an important step forward, it does not apply to transgender people under the age of 14 and continues to unjustly limit their ability to update their identity documents to reflect their authentic selves. It also prevents officials from determining an accurate number of transgender people living in Chile.
HRC’s Global Workplace Equality Program continues to partner with Fundación Iguales and businesses to advance LGBT inclusion across Chilean workplaces through its Equidad CL program. The bill is another sign of progress in Chile, where the private sector is adopting  LGBT-inclusive policies and there is growing visibility of transgender Chileans’ stories.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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