July 10, 2015 at 10:16 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Chilean same-sex couples seek civil union licenses

Chile, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay and lesbian couples in Chile on July 9, 2015, began applying for licenses that will allow them to enter into civil unions in the South American country. (Photo courtesy of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation)

Same-sex couples throughout Chile on Thursday began applying for licenses that would allow them to enter into civil unions.

Gay author Pablo Simonetti and his partner, José Pedro Godoy, were among the same-sex couples who applied for licenses in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Jaime Parada Hoy, a gay councilman in the wealthy Santiago enclave of Providencia, and his fiancé, Victor Fuentes Venegas, tweeted a picture of themselves after they applied for theirs.

Thursday was the first day that same-sex couples could apply for a license under the country’s civil unions law that President Michelle Bachelet signed in April. The statute will fully take effect on Oct. 22.

Juan Pablo Fuentealba Álvarez and his partner of more than 10 years, Julio Cezar Dantas, who direct the Chilean It Gets Better Foundation, which works to prevent anti-LGBT bullying, were among the dozens of other same-sex couples who applied for civil unions licenses in the South American country on Thursday.

The two men plan to enter into their civil union at their Santiago home on October 24.

“It is the first concrete step in the beginning of the legalization of diverse families,” Fuentealba told the Washington Blade on Thursday after he and Dantas received their civil union license. “It was very important to take part in this moment to demonstrate to children and to young people that Chile is changing.”

Andrés Ignacio Rivera Duarte, a Chilean transgender rights advocate, said the ability for same-sex couples to apply for licenses to enter into civil unions in the South American country allows them to protect their assets they have accumulated “through mutual efforts of a life built together.”

“It is an act of protection and love,” Rivera told the Blade.

Neighboring Argentina is among the countries in which gays and lesbians can legally marry.

Bachelet during her 2013 presidential campaign publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples, but the issue continues to face opposition among socially conservative lawmakers and religious groups. The Socialist president’s government earlier this year announced it would no longer oppose nuptials for gays and lesbians in a lawsuit before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that three same-sex couples filed in 2012.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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