The team that made the movie "A Fantastic Woman" which won the Oscar for best foreign film the night before were received Tuesday by Chile's outgoing President Michelle Bachelet, who in August sent to Congress a bill to authorize gay marriages and adoptions.
Chilean rights groups have expressed hope that the Oscar and the mounting global recognition for Danila Vega, the 28-year old actress who played the lead role will help the bill's passage.
“Chile became history thanks to a scenario that exposes the worst and the best of our country,” said the Movement for the Homosexual Integration and Liberation, or Movilh. “Without going any further, Daniela Vega is representing an entire country before the world with a passport that does not respect her name, nor her gender. She represents a country whose laws violates her most basic human rights.”
As Marina in the film — her fifth movie role — Vega plays a transgender woman confronting discrimination and rejection by the family of her deceased partner. The role has thrust her into the international spotlight and made her a Hollywood darling.
And at Sunday's Oscar ceremony, she became the first transgender person ever to present a performance at the movie industry's most important event.
But the new government of conservative Sebastian Pinera, who takes over the reins from Bachelet on Sunday, have not made encouraging statements in favor of the legislation.
Senator Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, spokesperson of the opposition party UDI, declared that “Sebastian Piñera, beyond the Oscar, was elected in order to solve daily issues, and as such, regardless whatever this bill can contribute to, other issues like health, education, citizen security or economic reactivation cannot become secondary issues.”
She added that her party disagreed with the bill the way it was formulated so far, and would only approve it if it was amended.
Vega was bullied at school and under pressure from her mother. When she was 15, she turned to the internet to explore why she felt the way she did about her adolescent body and her attraction to men. That's when she realized she was transsexual.
Those were hard times to face up to such a realization in conservative Chile, still struggling to escape the legacy of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990, and shocked by charges of child sex abuse in the powerful Catholic church.
But shielded by her parents and her younger brother Nicolas, she began her transition to her new sexual identity. It took three years.
Vega has not changed identity or gender on her passport because this is barred under Chilean law.