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  • LGBT rights activists march during a previous pride parade in Santiago, Chile.

    LGBT rights activists march during a previous pride parade in Santiago, Chile. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 January 2020

By 22 votes in favor, 16 against and one abstention, the Senate approved the project "in general", which means further parliamentary measures are needed for this bill to become law

Chile took an important step towards equal marriage on Wednesday after the Senate of the southern country took one step forward to approve legislation allowing it, a fact that LGTBI associations and much of the political spectrum described as " historic".

"Today’s accomplishment is due to organizations that have been demanding their rights for decades. From that first public demonstration in 1973 until the last Pride march. It was an honor to make the Senate available to equality and love," said the President of the Upper House, opposition lawmaker, Jaime Quintana.

By 22 votes in favor, 16 against and one abstention, the Senate approved the project "in general", a term used in Chile when the green light is given to the idea of ​​legislating on a specific issue, but there are still more parliamentary procedures until it becomes law, which will begin in March and may take several months.

Even so, never before has a project for equal marriage reached so far in the southern country, where civil unions (unmarried partners) between same-sex people have been allowed since 2015.

"While this is a first step of many, it was a difficult one. This advance definitely opens the door for total approval," said Oscar Rementería, spokesman for the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh), one of the most active LGTBI groups From Chile.

"Today we make small but important progress in the legislation that brings us closer to being a more just country. It is a good sign for democracy in Chile and for the equal rights of all its inhabitants," according to the president of the Fundación Iguales, Alessia Injoque.

The Chilean State pledged in 2016 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to legislate in favor of equal marriage and against discrimination against an LGTBI group after a complaint from Movilh.

The project approved on Wednesday was presented to parliament in 2017 by the then-president Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018), but her discussion was progressively postponed until now.

"I want to apologize to all organizations and people, Chilean and foreign, who have had to leave Chile to get married, because this country has prevented them," said Senator Felipe Harboe, of the center-left Party for Democracy (PPD).

In the same vein, Felipe Kast, one of the few official and conservative senators who voted in favor of the project and who lamented "how late we arrived at this step" and "not having understood the importance of respect and diversity", said.

"Equal marriage is a civilization advance that leads us to respect ourselves," added the senator and president of the Socialist Party (PS), Álvaro Elizalde.

On December 28, the tenth anniversary of the first homosexual bond in Latin America was celebrated, which was celebrated in the Argentine city of Ushuaia.

Since then, several countries in the region have followed the trail of Argentina and have legalized same-sex marriage, including Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Uruguay or some states of Mexico.

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