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Chilean Senate considers legalization of gay marriage

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of January 26, 2020) The Senate of Chile has approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption with 22 yes and 16 no votes with 1 abstention. The bill will now be examined in detail by the Committee for Constitution, Legislation and Justice, which had already approved it in its entirety on 5 November 2019. The text will then be voted on in the plenary session of the Senate, and the House of Lords then transmits the text to the Members of Parliament. The vote on 15 January 2020 concerns a text requested by former President Michelle Bachelet, whose parliamentary consideration was long delayed by her successor Sebastián Piñera.

The result of the vote in the Senate

A historic vote, but only the first of the parliamentary process © movihl.cl

The provisions of the text, which will eventually be examined by the Senate committee, were formulated in 2017. This draft followed an amicable settlement agreement signed jointly in 2016 before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) by the State of Chile and the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), the main organization representing the LGBT+ community in Chile. However, President Piñera has changed the text, turning the commitment to legalize gay marriage into a mere promise that the issue would be considered in Parliament.

Jaime Quintana Leal, President of the Senate and member of the opposition Party for Democracy (PPD), who promised a vote on the review process of the law before the end of his term in office in March 2020, has thus kept his promise.

The title of the text submitted to the Senate for vote is somewhat awkwardly worded: “Draft law on a first constitutional step towards the amendment of various legal bodies to regulate same-sex marriage on the grounds of equality” On the other hand, the result of the vote leaves no room for doubt. Left-wing senators generally voted for the text and those of the ruling conservative coalition (though in a minority in the Senate) voted against the text.

Here is a video of the historic session of 15 January 2020, which was broadcast by the Chilean Senate television station TVS (from 3:06):

It makes no sense to summarize what each of them has to say, since the arguments of the four homophobic parliamentarians (laws of nature, a man and a woman, respect for the family, etc.) resemble a bad caricature. The homophobic clan only repeated clichés that were already claimed by the current head of state. The twelve gay-friendly parliamentarians, on the other hand, made calmer speeches, even if some sentences were difficult to understand, perhaps due to the emotions of the speakers.

All these speeches, whether positive or homophobic, were given in front of a same-sex parent couple present in the public space.

While the left-wing opposition dominates in the Senate, the political color is less clear in the lower house, where some conservative MPs have expressed their intention to vote for gay marriage.

Movilh officials welcomed the historic step forward in this preliminary vote. One of them also stressed the importance of this law in terms of children's rights, as it defines the legal status of the kinship between a child and same-sex parents.

Where this is the case, gay marriage will offer same-sex couples a more comprehensive and rights-based option than the CAP (or the Civil Association Agreement in its local version), which has been in force since April 2015.

It was not until 1999 that Chile repealed a law banning anal sex and punishing the perpetrators with prison sentences. Since July 2012 a Chilean law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation. Since November 2018, any person aged 14 or over can also change their first name and sex without having to see a judge, psychiatrist or surgeon.

Although Chile has not yet legalized same-sex marriage and gay men reach sexual majority at 18 years of age, compared to 14 years for heterosexuals, Chile is generally considered one of the countries that most welcomes – or least stigmatizes – LGBTQI people. The near future will show whether the legalization of gay marriage will overcome the double hurdle of a right-wing House of Representatives and a conservative head of state.

Frank-S / MensGo

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