Recognition of same-sex unions in Chile

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Legal status of same-sex unions
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Chile has recognized civil unions since 22 October 2015. On 28 January 2015, the National Congress approved a bill recognizing civil unions for same-sex and opposite-sex couples, offering some of the rights of marriage. The bill was signed into law on 13 April 2015 and was published in the Official Gazette on 21 April 2015 and took effect on 22 October 2015.

In December 2014, a group of senators from various parties introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption.

Legislative history[edit]

Bachelet's first presidency[edit]

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.[1]

In October 2009, a civil union bill was introduced but failed to pass.[2]

Piñera's presidency[edit]

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.[3]

In June 2010, senator Andrés Allamand (National Renewal) submitted the Acuerdo de Vida en Común (AVC) ("Commonlife Agreement") to Congress. AVC was a civil unions agreement that would be open to any two people regardless of sex.[4] On 3 August 2010, senator Fulvio Rossi (Socialist Party) introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.[5] 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 the civil union bill introduced by senator Allamand.

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”.[6] 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.[7][8] 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.[9] Chile's national LGBT rights group, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH), said it was cautiously optimistic the measure would pass.[citation needed]

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.[10]

On 10 April 2013, the Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja law creating civil unions in Chile was approved by the Senate's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, on a 4-1 vote.[11][12] On 7 January 2014, the Senate voted 28–6 in favor of the law,[13] but the bill was not voted on by the Chamber of Deputies before the end of the parliamentary session in March 2014, despite it being a priority issue for Piñera.

Bachelet's second presidency[edit]

Civil union agreement[edit]

When Michelle Bachelet again took office of President in March 2014, she made passing Piñera's civil union bill a priority.[14]

On 5 August 2014, a Senate committee approved the civil unions bill.[15] On 7 October 2014, the bill was passed by the Senate, and moved to the Chamber Of Deputies.[16]

The name of the bill was changed to Civil union pact (Pacto de Unión Civil) on December 17, and Congress reiterated their intention to hold the final vote by January 2015.[17] On 6 January 2015, a provision recognising foreign marriages as civil unions was approved in the Constitutional Committee while the child adoption clause was turned down. The bill will go to a final vote before both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies as it was amended.[18] On 13 January, the full Chamber of Deputies reinserted the adoption provision. On 20 January 2015, the Chamber approved the bill on a vote of 86 to 23 with 2 abstentions. On 27 January, the Senate rejected all the Chamber's amendments, so the bill was headed to the joint committee of both houses.[19] The committee reached the agreement in regard to the text of the bill and changed its name to Civil union agreement (Acuerdo de Unión Civil) the same day. The bill was passed in both houses on 28 January 2015.[20][21] Several lawmakers asked the Chilean Constitutional Court to verify the bill's constitutionality, which was upheld by the court in a ruling released on 6 April 2015.[22] The bill was signed into law by President Bachelet on 13 April 2015.[23][24] It was published in the Official Gazette on 21 April 2015 and took effect on 22 October 2015.[25][26][27]

Chile's civil union provisions enable couples to claim pension benefits and inherit property if their civil partner dies as well as more easily co-own property and make medical decisions for one another. The government estimated at the time of the law going into effect that some two million Chilean couples co-habitating could have their unions legally recognised. In the day following the law going into effect, approximately 1600 couples signed up to register their unions.[28]

On 1 December 2016, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved (except for 6 abstentions) a bill to give couples who enter in a civil union five days off, like couples who marry have.[29][30][31]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Recognition of same-sex unions in South America
  Other type of partnership
  Same-sex marriage banned
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal

Michelle Bachelet declared on 11 April 2013 that she supports same-sex marriage and would 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 15 December 2013.[32]

On 10 December 2014, a group of senators from various parties joined MOVILH in presenting a bill to allow same-sex marriage and adoption to Congress. MOVILH has been in talks with the Chilean government to seek an amiable solution to the pending marriage lawsuit brought against the state before the Inter American Court of Human Rights. The group has suggested that they would drop the case if Bachelet's Congress keeps their promise to legislate same-sex marriage.[33]

On 1 July 2016, the Government announced that it would begin consultations on a same-sex marriage bill in September 2016, with the aim of finalising it by mid-2017.[34] President Bachelet stated before a United Nations General Assembly panel in September 2016 that the Chilean government would submit a same-sex marriage bill to Congress "in the first half of 2017."[35] In June 2017, she announced in a speech to Congress that her government would send a bill to the legislature in the second half of 2017 to allow same-sex marriage.[36]

The government has previously said it views a ban on same-sex marriage as a human rights violation.[37]

Constitutional ban[edit]

On 16 June 2016, two Independent Democratic Union MPs introduced a bill to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and prohibit same-sex couples from adopting.[38]

Legal challenges[edit]

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[39] but it ruled in a 9-1 vote on November 3 that the ban was not unconstitutional.[40]

In 2012, a same-sex marriage lawsuit was filed before the Inter-American Court Of Human Rights. Piñera's Government stated its opposition to the suit in 2013. After Michelle Bachelet, who pledged to make same-sex marriage a reality, was inaugurated as President of Chile in 2014, the LGBT rights group MOVILH announced that they would seek an amicable solution to the case with the state. On 17 February 2015, lawyers representing the Government and the LGBT rights group MOVILH met to discuss an amicable solution to the same-sex marriage lawsuit before the Inter-American Commission Of Human Rights. The Government announced that they would drop their opposition to same-sex marriage. A formal agreement will be signed in April and the case will still continue according to MOVILH's lawyer who stated that the lawsuit will live on until Chile enacts the law.[41]

On 10 June 2016, the Third Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Santiago rejected the lawsuit filed by MOVILH. The Court argued that Chilean legislation does not allow for same-sex marriages and as such the Civil Registry can not marry same-sex couples. Furthermore, the Court explained that opening marriage to same-sex couples should not be decided by the judiciary but by the other branches of government.[42]

Public opinion[edit]

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.[43] 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.[44][45] A more recent poll showed that 70% of youths support same-sex marriage.[46]

The July 2011 nationwide 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.[47]

An August 2012 poll found that 54.9% of Chileans support same-sex marriage, while 40.7% are opposed.[48]

According to Pew Research Center survey, conducted between November 11 and December 16, 2013, 46% of Chileans supported same-sex marriage, 42% were opposed.[49][50]

According to the Chilean pollster Cadem Plaza Pública, at the end of 2014, 55% of Chileans were in favour of same sex-marriage, whilst 39% were against.[51]

A poll carried out during September 2015 by the aforementioned Cadem Plaza Pública found that 60% of Chileans supported same sex-marriage, the highest ever recorded among the general population. Chileans opposed to marriage between same-sex couples were at 36%.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CHILE: Law on Civil Union for Gays Within Reach". IPS News. 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  2. ^ "Presentaron el Pacto de Unión Civil en el Parlamento chileno". 2009-10-14. Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  3. ^ "Chile's elections: "Who gets the gay vote?"". globalpost. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  4. ^ "Allamand reflota la agenda valórica". La Tercera (newspaper). 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  5. ^ "Chile Senator Fulvio Rossi Introduces Gay Marriage Bill". 2010-08-03. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  6. ^ Johnny Payne (29 May 2011). "Chile set to allow gay civil unions". Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Chile leader proposed civil unions, including gays[dead link]
  8. ^ "Chile President Sebastian Pinera proposed civil unions". 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  9. ^ "Acuerdo de vida en común": Conoce de qué se trata este proyecto de ley (in Spanish) El Vacanudo. 12-08-2011.
  10. ^ "Chile Introduces Constitutional Gay Marriage Ban Amendment". 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  11. ^ "Comisión de Constitución aprobó idea de legislar sobre proyecto que establece un Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja". Senado. 10 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Draft law establishing and regulating the Life Partner Agreement, Government of Chile
  13. ^ "Chile civil unions bill advances". Washington Blade. 2014-01-07. 
  14. ^ "Government announces priority for same-sex civil unions and tax reform". Santiago Times. March 17, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Chilean Senate committee approves civil unions bill". Washington Blade. 5 August 2014. 
  16. ^ Chilean Senate advances civil unions bill
  17. ^ "Otorgan suma urgencia al AVP y le cambian el nombre por Pacto de Unión Civil (PUC)". MOVILH. 2014-12-17. Retrieved 2014-12-18. 
  18. ^ Comisión de Constitución de la Cámara despacha el Pacto de Unión Civil limitando los derechos de hijos e hijas
  19. ^ (in Spanish) Pacto de Unión Civil: Senado rechaza texto aprobado por la Cámara para zanjar disensos en comisión mixta
  20. ^ Esposito, Anthony. "Socially-conservative Chile approves civil unions". Reuters. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  21. ^ (in Spanish) Comisión mixta concluye revisión de proyecto de Unión Civil: Mañana se vota en la Cámara y el Senado
  22. ^ "Chilean court upholds constitutionality of civil unions bill". The Washington Blade. 6 April 2015. 
  23. ^ Chilean president signs civil unions bill
  24. ^ Chilean president signs same-sex civil union law
  25. ^ Michael Lavers (22 October 2015). "Chile civil unions law takes effect". Washington Blade. 
  26. ^ (in Spanish) Acuerdo de Unión Civil
  27. ^ (in Spanish) Ley número 20.830. - Crea el Acuerdo de Unión Civil
  28. ^ "Chile civil union law comes into force". BBC News. 23 October 2015. 
  29. ^ Chile, Cámara de Diputados de. "Cámara de Diputados de Chile". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  30. ^ "Cámara de Diputados de Chile. Trabajo en sala: Detalle de Votación". Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  31. ^ Chile, Cámara de Diputados de. "Avanza proyecto para que trabajadores que celebren Acuerdo de Unión Civil tengan derecho a cinco días libres" (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  32. ^ "Bachelet quiere legalizar aborto y matrimonio igualitario en Chile". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  33. ^ "El proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario llega al Parlamento de Chile". Cáscara Amarga. 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  34. ^ Matrimonio Igualitario: Ejecutivo define cronograma para envío de proyecto
  35. ^ "Chile's President Plans to Send Gay Marriage Bill to Congress in 2017". VOA & Reuters. 21 September 2016. 
  36. ^ "Chile president pledge new infrastructure, gay marriage in final year". The Himalayan Times & Reuters. 2 June 2017. 
  37. ^ (in Spanish) Gobierno reconoce la prohibición del matrimonio igualitario como una violación a los DDHH
  38. ^ (in Spanish) Proyectos de Ley Modifica la Carta Fundamental para establecer que el matrimonio solo puede celebrarse entre un hombre y una mujer, y prohibir la adopción homoparental
  39. ^ "Chile’s same-sex marriage debate reaches Constitutional Court". Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  40. ^ "Chile court rejects gay marriage appeal". IOL. 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  41. ^ Chilean government to end opposition to same-sex marriage (Washington Blade - February 18 2015)
  42. ^ "Corte rechaza recurso por matrimonio igualitario, pero destaca que TC español lo permitiera" (in sp). El Ciudadano. 10 June 2016. 
  43. ^ (04/24/09) (2009-04-03). "Most Chileans Reject Same-sex Marriage". Retrieved 2011-10-03. [permanent dead link]
  44. ^ "Unión civil para gays y lesbianas anima debate electoral". 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  45. ^ "Presentación de PowerPoint" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  46. ^ 70% of Chilean Youth Support Same-Sex Marriage
  47. ^ "Estudio Nacional de Opinión Pública, Junio-Julio 2011. Tema especial: Educación". Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  48. ^ "Gran avance: 54.9 por ciento apoya en Chile el matrimonio igualitario". MOVILH. 2012-08-29. 
  49. ^ Religion in Latin America Chapter 5: Social Attitudes
  50. ^ Religion in Latin America Appendix A: Methodology
  51. ^ Track semanal de Opinión Pública 07 Noviembre 2014 Estudio N° 43
  52. ^ Track semanal de Opinión Pública 07 Septiembre 2015 Estudio Nº 86