Chile legalizes same-sex marriage

By Giselle Vargas for CNA


Same-sex wedding cake. / Sara Valenti/Shutterstock

Santiago, Chile, Dec 9, 2021 / 10:53 am (CNA).

Chile’s National Congress passed Dec. 7 a bill legalizing same-sex marriage that in June received the backing of President Sebastián Piñera.

The bill was first introduced in 2017 by then-President Michelle Bachelet, but became stalled in Congress. During her administration a civil unions law was passed, but it did not include adoption by same sex partners, which the newly passed bill provides for.

The same-sex marriage bill was recently taken up again and rushed through the legislature on the basis of “urgency” by Piñera, whose term ends in March 2022. It could be promulgated at any time.

The bill was in the third stage of the legislative process and was reactivated after the Nov. 21 first round presidential elections, in which José Antonio Kast of the Christian Social Front came in first, with Gabriel Boric of the Apruebo Dignidad alliance in second place. The two will face each other in a Dec. 19 runoff.

The differences between the Chamber of Deputies and Senate versions of the bills had to be reconciled by a joint committee, which issued a report Dec. 6.

The Senate voted 21-8, with three abstentions, in favor of the report from the joint committee the morning of Dec. 7.

That afternoon, the bill was sent to the Chamber of Deputies, where it was passed by a vote of 82-20, with two abstentions, without discussion and amid voting on other initiatives.

Daniela Constantino, an attorney and legislative advisor for the non-profit Community and Justice human rights and rule of law organization, criticized the fact that “there was no debate, it was all done very quickly and even the opposition itself was against how the bill was done.”

This was reflected in the votes of the joint commission, where there were several abstentions and many votes against it.

The bill was “more urgent than pensions, more urgent than violence, more urgent than decent healthcare. There is no other bill, not even healthcare, which is paramount, to be so fast-tracked,” Constantino lamented to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency.

The bill states that in an already established heterosexual marriage, if one of the parties decides to legally change his or her name and sex, they can do so, but must notify their spouse. That spouse can accept the change or request dissolution of the marriage bond.

Regarding the care of minors, the bill says there can be no discrimination based on the “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, filiation, or personal appearance” of the caregiver. It also replaces the word “parents” with “progenitors.”

It also establishes that in order to have children, assisted reproductive techniques will be allowed, leaving open the possibility of surrogate motherhood. In Chile there are no laws that limit or control the use of assisted fertilization.

The president of the joint commission, Senator Pedro Araya Guerrero, denied “that what is known as the ‘surrogate womb’ would be regulated, as it is not regulated in Chile.”

Constantino noted that the bill’s text “doesn’t explicitly say that a child could have as many as four parents,” adding that “the bill is so poorly formulated in form and substance that it opens the doors to these ambiguities.”

“So-called same-sex marriage aims to regulate or equate homosexual relationships to a heterosexual marriage,” the attorney said. “But that which is different by nature cannot be equalized.”

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