July 26, 2019 at 9:36 am EST | by Nicolás Levy
Chilean Senate once again begins equal marriage debate
A Chilean Senate committee this week once again began to debate whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

VALPARAÍSO, Chile —The Chilean Senate’s Constitution Committee on Tuesday once again began to debate an equal marriage bill that former President Michelle Bachelet introduced two years ago.

The renewed legislative debate was announced last week, and therefore reactivated the process in a Senate in which conservatives have a majority. Senate President Jaime Quintana, however, in May affirmed both the equal marriage bill and a measure that would allow same-sex couples to adopt children will be priorities during this year’s legislative session.

Quintana on Monday reinforced this statement in a presentation of his work as Senate president that President Sebastián Piñera attended.

The committee’s last session was the third one to address equal marriage since 2017. LGBTI activists and Eduardo Court, a civil law professor, attended it.

Court referred to the advancement of equal marriage in Latin America, as well as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ Advisory Opinion 24, which says the denial of full legal equality for same-sex couples violates the American Convention of Human Rights. 

Court also highlighted “procreation cannot be assumed for the purpose of marriage,” answering one of the main arguments that conservative factions use to oppose the bill. 

Activists ask lawmakers to speed up discussion

Chilean LGBTI organizations celebrated the progress of the debate, but said they hope it won’t stop again. 

“We expect and demand that today’s debate is not a parenthesis or an exception, but a constant one, so what is committed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is fulfilled,” said Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) President Rolando Jiménez, referring the amicable mediation process with the commission and the Chilean government and the organization after it filed a lawsuit in 2012 on behalf of three Chilean same-sex couples who sought recognition of their marriages from overseas.

‘We are talking about legal equality for couples that, for the state, are pariahs because of their sexual orientation,” highlighted Jiménez. “We are talking about equal dignity and rights for all. This bill does not affect anyone, it only improves the quality of life of a historically excluded community. There are no reasons to continue postponing the approval of equal marriage.”

Rolando Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, in his office in Santiago, Chile. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)


Fundación Iguales President Juan Enrique Pi had a similar opinion.

“We expect that the committee will vote on the idea of legislating in the coming weeks, so the Senate can approve this milestone as soon as possible,” he said. “This is a bill that has seen no progress in two years, and to do so, it requires the will of the committee and Senate authorities.”

Nicolás Levy is a Chilean journalist who specializes in LGBT human rights. He is a correspondent for the Washington Blade in Santiago, Chile.

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