Recognition of same-sex unions in Chile
|Legal recognition of
Chile does not legally recognize same-sex unions. As of January 2014, a bill that would create civil unions is being considered in the National Congress.
Presidential campaign pledges
During January 2006's presidential campaign both President Michelle Bachelet and center-right candidate Sebastián Piñera voiced their support for civil unions, but the Catholic Church and many members of Congress were opposed.
During his run-up to the presidency in 2009, Piñera vowed to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and included a gay couple in one of his televised campaign ads.
In May 2011, president Piñera stated that he was in favor of an upcoming bill which would legalize a form of civil union; his stated intent was to “protect and safeguard [...] the dignity of those couples, whether of the opposite or even the same sex”.
Piñera introduced a bill to Congress in August 2011 allowing registered cohabitation, known as Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja (Life Partnership Agreement). This would give unmarried partners many of the rights now enjoyed only by married couples, such as inheritance and certain social welfare and health care benefits. Piñera’s legislation proposed the creation of a Common-Law Agreement (Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja, AVP), which would allow same-sex couples to civilly register their partnership with a notary. Chile's national LGBT rights group, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH), said it was cautiously optimistic the measure would pass.
In response to the proposed legislation and potential legal battles brewing in the country's Constitutional Court, members of Chile's Independent Democrat Union introduced a constitutional amendment on 11 August 2011, that sought to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
On 10 April 2013, the law creating civil unions in Chile was approved by the Senate's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, on a 4-1 vote. On 7 January 2014, the Senate voted 28–6 in favor of the law.
On 3 August 2010, senator Fulvio Rossi of the Socialist Party introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the country. During the first week of September 2010, several senators backing the bill stated they would withdraw their support after talks with members of the Evangelical Church, and instead announced support for a civil union bill introduced by senator Andrés Allamand.
Michelle Bachelet declared on 11 April 2013 that she supports marriage equality and will seek to legalise it if elected president in the November 2013 presidential elections. Bachelet, who was president of Chile between 2006 and 2010, won the election on December 15, 2013.
Challenges in court
Chile's Constitutional Court heard arguments on 28 July 2011, regarding the constitutionality of Article 102 of the Civil Code that bans same-sex marriage but it ruled in a 9-1 vote on November 3 that the ban wasn't unconstitutional.
An April 2009 poll concluded that only 33.2% of Chileans were in favor of allowing same-sex couples to be married, with 65.2% opposed. However, support among young people was much higher: according to a study by the National Youth Institute of Chile, 56% of people aged between 15 and 29 supported same-sex marriage, while 51.3% supported same-sex adoption.
The July 2011 nation-wide CEP poll found that 52% of Chileans were in favor of granting legal rights to same-sex unions: 18% supported granting civil marriage to gay couples, while 34% preferred giving same-sex couples a "legal union". When the question is slightly rephrased, 57% of Chileans were against gay marriage where "the same rights as a heterosexual couple are guaranteed" and 27% in favor, while support for a "legal union" of same-sex couples was higher at 35%, with 57% against. In all questions, support for gay unions was higher among the younger and better educated. In the case of adoption of children by a lesbian couple, 24% were in favor and 61% against. Support was lower for male gay couples: 20% in favor and 64% against.
An August 2012 poll found that 54.9% of Chileans support same-sex marriage, while 40.7% are opposed.
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