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The Chilean Chamber of Deputies approved on Tuesday, with 82 votes in favor, 20 against and two abstentions, same-sex marriage after a long and complex parliamentary process that, surprisingly, was promoted by conservative President Sebastián Piñera in the final stretch of his term.
As such, Chile joins Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay as the Latin American countries that recognize this right. It has already been approved in 24 of 32 states in Mexico, but it has not been possible to move forward with legislation at the national level.
On a hectic and historic parliamentary day, the Senate approved the initiative at noon and immediately referred it to Deputies, where it was ratified shortly after that.
Last June 1, when presenting his final government report, which in Chile is known as "public account," Piñera announced that it was time to approve equal marriage, an issue that until that moment was not part of the public debate, since an initiative presented by former President Michelle Bachelet in 2017 remained paralyzed in Congress.
The news puzzled Chilean society, since no one expected that the right-wing politician would support and consider urgent a reform long promoted by the progressive agenda, and which goes against his ideological positions.
In addition to the fact that he has always expressed his opposition to equal marriage, Piñera provoked surprise because he introduced a new discussion in a particularly complex year in which the 155 members of the Convention who will draft the new Constitution had just been elected and the presidential campaigns were about to begin.
In that message, Piñera called for a deepening of the value of freedom, including the freedom to love and form a family with a loved one. "And also the value of the dignity of all relationships of love and affection between two people. I think that the time has come to guarantee this freedom and dignity to all people. I think that the time has come for same-sex marriage in our country," said the president amid applause and a generalized reaction of surprise.
Since last June, the initiative has been debated on several occasions in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Still, it returned to one chamber or the other for a new revision as it underwent changes.
✅A LEY | Cámara respalda en último trámite el proyecto que regula, en igualdad de condiciones, el matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo.
"A LAW: The House supports in the last procedure the bill that regulates, under equal conditions, the marriage of same-sex couples. It is sent to the Executive for its promulgation procedures."
The bill entered its final stretch last week, as the Senate was expected to approve it. Still, at the last minute, the Constitution Committee considered that the doubts about the wording of the new law should be settled by a Joint Committee of both chambers, which finally met on Monday, allowing it to be debated and approved in both chambers this Tuesday in an express manner.
Deputies and senators acknowledged that the discussion was clouded by the presidential campaigns for the second round of elections that on December 19 will feature the leftist Gabriel Boric, who supports same-sex marriage, and the far-right José Antonio Kast, who rejects it.
In fact, the polarization impacted the other great debate on rights in the Chilean Congress in recent months, which culminated in the rejection of unrestricted abortion up to 14 weeks of gestation.
In addition to legalizing same-sex marriage and recognizing same-sex couples' right to adoption, the new law guarantees filiation rights to any person who undergoes assisted human reproduction techniques, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
It also supports non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, among other categories, for purposes of the regime and exercise of personal care of children; and eliminates automatic divorce for trans people who change their name and legal sex.
On the other hand, it opens the possibility that the filiation rights of children can be determined with respect to more than two persons. It establishes pre and post-natal labor rights without discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.