LGBT rights in Chile

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LGBT rights in Chile
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1998,
age of consent not equalized
Gender identity/expression -
Military service No official prohibition, but LGBT people may be discharged because of "offenses to values and morals of the Armed Forces".[1]
Discrimination protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption Not allowed

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Chile may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Chile, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Adult, consensual, non-commercial, same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Chile since 1998, but the liberalization of the criminal code created an unequal age of consent and did not modify vague public indecency laws, which have been used to harass LGBT people in Chile.

In Chile the current law against sodomy states that the age of consent for homosexuals is set at 18, whereas the age of consent for heterosexual sex is lower at 14.[2]

In July 2009 a new Penal Code was drafted and, if enacted, it would establish a universal age of consent, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, at 18.[3]

Gender identity/expression[edit]

In Chile, transgenderism is often associated with homosexuality. In the early part of the twenty-first century, the legal rights of transgender people in Chile has begun to improve.

A landmark case, brought in 2005 by Andrés Rivera, the founder of a NGO in Chile dedicated to fighting for trans people's rights, won the right for trans people to legally change their name and sex in 2007.[4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Campaign demanding legal recognition of same-sex couples in Chile.

As of 2014, Chile does not have legal recognition for same-sex couples. Several bills have been proposed since 2004 to introduce civil unions for same-sex couples, without success. A civil union bill (Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja) proposed in 2011 by President Piñera,[5] passed the Senate in January 2014 and is pending in the Chamber of Deputies. President Michelle Bachelet, who re-took office on 11 March 2014, endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples during her victorious election campaign, and made passing civil union bill a priority issue.[6]

Public opinion has shown substantial support for same-sex civil unions: 65% favored their legalization in 2004, even though only 24% supported same-sex marriage.[7] In 2009, 33.2% supported same-sex marriage and 26.5% supported adoption by same-sex couples.[8] Support among young people is much higher: according to a study by the National Youth Institute of Chile, 56% of young respondents supported same-sex marriage, while 51.3% supported same-sex adoption.[9] An August 2012 poll found that 54.9% of Chileans support same-sex marriage, while 40.7% are opposed.[10] A more recent poll showed that 70% of youths support same-sex marriage. [11]

Discrimination protections[edit]

A law published in July 2012 provides protection against acts of "arbitrary discrimination" based on "sexual orientation".[12] LGBT and minority groups are working to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender” in Chile’s Constitution to the civil rights and protection clause.[13] Details of a new draft of the law were made public at the Forum on Same-Sex Civil Unions in Chile , held at the Diego Portales University, in May 2008. [14]

Activists believe that conservative attitudes are changing, finding greater public tolerance as Chile's Congress debates striking "offenses to morals and good customs" clauses "that police have used to harass gays, even for behavior such as holding hands in public".[15]

Living conditions[edit]

In Chile, the Catholic Church and traditional beliefs regarding gender roles do play a combined role in prevailing attitudes about sex roles, sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT-rights began to be publicly discussed as Chile went through a larger process of democratization, with an expanded interest in human rights and dignity.

While LGBT people live throughout Chile, the visible LGBT community is largely restricted to Santiago in the bohemian, socially liberal, neighborhood Bellavista, home to a thriving restaurant and club scene. A public parade for LGBT-rights is held every year in downtown Santiago.[16]

While rare, efforts by LGBT people in Chile to organize for their rights outside of Santiago are gaining more publicity. The Chilean magazine, Opus Gay, has ventured far south, reporting on a recent lesbian march for equal rights in Concepcion,[17] and on to the Straits of Magellan to report on the gay discothèque scene in Punta Arenas.[18]

In the early part of the twenty-first century, greater publicity has been generated about LGBT people in Chile and the discrimination and harassment that they face. Some of the more notable examples of this include the following;

2004 removal of bisexual judge[edit]

In January 2004, the Chilean Supreme Court removed married[19] judge Daniel Calvo from his position on the Santiago Court of Appeals, after media reports that he visited a sauna frequented by gay men. The story broke following the arrest of a Chilevisión TV editor for illegally taping, and then broadcasting, a conversation in the judge's chambers. Judge Calvo, investigating the case of an accused businessman running a child pornography ring, was taped in his office in a discussion with the owner of a gay sauna, in which he acknowledged being a former client[20] [21]

2004 removal of custody rights from lesbian former judge[edit]

In 2004, the Chilean Supreme Court confirmed a lower court's decision that stripped former judge Karen Atala of custody of her three daughters because she is a lesbian. The case has been taken up by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.[22] In March 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Atala.[23]

2010 maricón PSA[edit]

In 2010, the Chilean government launched a public service announcement which referred to spousal or domestic abusers as maricón, which sparked outrage from LGBT rights advocates at home and abroad. and Chilean LGBT group Soy Hombre Soy Mujer, co-sponsored a November 2010 petition against the campaign, while El Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh) supported the campaign.[24]

The key of the campaign was based in the polysemy of the word maricón, which in Chile means gay, treacherous, abuser, and unfair. In one of the spots, the well known gay photographer Jordi Castell says Maricón es el que le pega a una mujer, i.e. "maricón is the one who abuses a woman (and not a gay man)". In another spot, football referee Pablo Pozo says the same sentence, which in this case means "maricón is the one who abuses a woman (and not a supposedly unfair referee)"[25] This campaign earned a Golden Effie Award.[25]

2012 murder[edit]

In March 2012, a young gay man named Daniel Zamudio was brutally beaten by a Neo-Nazi band,[26] and died on March 27.[27]

Movilh, a Chilean NGO that fights for the gay people rights said that from 2002 to 2012, there has been known of 837 complaints of brutal cases of homophobia and transphobia, 17 of these cases are murders, only in the past year three transsexuals were murdered, one of them had her face disfigured with a blowtorch.[28]

Because of the large number of hate crimes, the government passed an anti-discrimination law in April 2012.[29]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (since 1998)
Equal age of consent No
Gays allowed to serve in the military Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (since 2012)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (since 2012)
Anti-discrimination laws in other areas Yes (since 2012)
Recognition of same-sex couples No (pending)
Same-sex marriage No (pending)
Both joint and step adoption by same-sex couples No (pending)
Immigration rights for same-sex couples No (pending)
Right to change legal gender No (pending)
Access to artificial insemination/IVF for lesbian couples Yes
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes (since 2012)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ortiz Lazo, Claudio - Reflexiones en torno a la homosexualidad y fuerzas armadas.
  2. ^ "Eighteen years on – the gay rights movement in Chile - Santiago Magazine". Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "ILGA" (PDF). Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Grew, Tony (5 March 2008). "Iranian and Chilean LGBT activists honoured,, March 5, 2008". Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Chile President Sebastian Pinera proposes civil unions". BBC News. 
  6. ^ Chile expected to legalize gay marriage (Gay Star News - March 12 2014)
  7. ^ OpusGay (2004). "Encuesta refleja amplia aceptación a derechos de homosexuales en Chile" (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 March 2009. 
  8. ^ Ipsos (April 2009). "Estudio de opinión pública". Retrieved 16 March 2009. [dead link] (Spanish)
  9. ^ "Unión civil para gays y lesbianas anima debate electoral". 25 June 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Gran avance: 54.9 por ciento apoya en Chile el matrimonio igualitario". MOVILH. 2012-08-29. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "DIVAS DON’T DISCRIMINATE". Valparaiso Times. Sep 3, 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "CHILE: Law on Civil Union for Gays Within Reach". IPS. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  15. ^ - Conservative Chile More Tolerant of Gays,, July 2006
  16. ^ - GAY PRIDE PARADE IN DOWNTOWN SANTIAGO, Santiago Times, October 2007[dead link]
  17. ^ - LESBIANAS MARCHAN EN CONCEPCION, Opus Gay, Nov. 2008(Spanish)
  19. ^ "Juez Calvo declaró por tres horas ante Comisión de Ética". Emol (in Spanish). 26 November 2003. Daniel Calvo fue acompañado por su esposa Mónica Olivares  (Daniel Calvo went in company of his wife Mónica Olivares).
  20. ^ "Chile - Annual Report 2004, Reporters Without Borders". Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  21. ^ - Judge scandal is step back for homosexuals in Chile, Reuters, Nov. 2003
  22. ^ - Ruling in Chile forces gay parents to choose between the closet, parenting rights, from Knight-Ridder, July 2004
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Movilh aprueba campaña lanzada por el Sernam en contra del maltrato a la mujer". Emol. 28 October 2010. 
  25. ^ a b "La Campaña Maricón de Sernam ganó el Effie de Oro". SoyCopiapó. 11 November 2011. 
  26. ^,4543eb8afcf46310VgnVCM10000098f154d0RCRD.html
  27. ^,06f6afe955656310VgnVCM5000009ccceb0aRCRD.html
  28. ^
  29. ^ Chile Passes Anti-Discrimination Law Following Daniel Zamudio's Death

External links[edit]