Chilean legislators overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill Tuesday that would legalize same-sex civil unions.
Eighty-six legislators in the Chamber of Deputies voted for the bill, while 23 voted against it and two abstained.
“This is a law that does not discriminate and it gives protection to all couples and families in the country,” government spokesperson Alvaro Elizalde stated.
Many LGBTI rights advocates argue civil unions are still a step away from full marriage rights, though grassroots groups in Chile have largely welcomed the Chamber's decision as a step in the right direction.
The bill will now head to the Senate for a final vote.
According to a 2013 Pew poll, around 46 percent of Chileans support same-sex marriage, while 42 percent are opposed. President Michelle Bachelet has stated she supports full marriage equality rights. When she began her current term in March 2014, she vowed to prioritize the civil union bill, but said marriage rights remain her long term goal.
Legislators also voted Tuesday to overhaul the country’s electoral system to make it easier for small parties to compete. The old electoral system was widely derided as a remnant of former dictator Augusto Pinochet's regime. Pinochet introduced the system shortly before he relinquished power in 1990. Spokesperson Elizalde described the outcome of the vote as “without a doubt a historic day for democracy.”
“Because the system approved by Congress guarantees that the vote Chileans express in the voting booth will have a true reflection in the makeup of parliament. Not what like happened in the binominal system which consecrated a tie, over represented the minority and gave the impression that it did not matter who you voted for,” Elizalde added.
More Chile news: