Chilean president proposes legislation to legalize civil unionsOnline Only Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
President Sebastian Pinera of Chile proposed legislation Tuesday that aims to guarantee the legal recognition of gay civil unions throughout the country. If the measure becomes law, gay couples will be afforded a number of rights currently reserved for opposite-sex married couples, such as social benefits and inheritance rights.
According to the Associated Foreign Press (AFP), President Pinera promised to legalize civil unions for gay couples during his presidential campaign despite his outspoken opposition of same-sex marriage. Although the conservative president is a supporter of traditional marriage, he told the AFP that his personal beliefs do not keep him from “recognizing that other forms of affective relationships exist.” Pinera said of his decision to propose the bill, “All forms of marriage deserve respect, dignity and the support of the state.
Leaders of Chile’s two leading political parties have spoken out against Pinera for supporting the controversial legislation, and subsequently elected to boycott the bill’s unveiling ceremony. Radio Cooperativa reports that party members have accused the president of ignoring the will of the party in order to appease the younger, more progressive citizens in hopes of increasing his popular support.
Given the conservative nature of the predominately Catholic country, the passing of such gay-friendly legislation would serve as a major milestone for Chile’s LGBT community. The legalization of civil unions would allow the nearly 2 million unmarried Chilean citizens who live with their partners to enjoy benefits on par with married couples, according to Pinera.
He stated, “This [bill] puts opposite-sex and same-sex couples on the same footing, because in both cases it is possible to develop love, affection and respect.”
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