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Chile’s Senate votes in favor of same-sex civil unions bill

Thursday, January 9, 2014
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SANTIAGO, Chile — A same-sex civil union bill has been overwhelmingly approved in Chile’s Senate.

On Tuesday, 28 Senators voted in favor the Life Partner Agreement (AVP) while only six opposed it and two absented, reported the Santiago Times.

ChileThe bill will now pass to a constitutional assembly before returning to a vote in the Congress in March or April.

Supporters of the bill had hoped it will be signed by outgoing President Sebastián Piñera, who is due to leave office in March.

The measure would give unmarried opposite and same-sex partners many of the rights now enjoyed only by married couples, such as inheritance and certain social welfare and health care benefits, as well as civilly register their partnership with a notary.

“We are happy for this significant progress towards bettering conditions and equality for all families, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identification of its members,” read a statement by Chile’s Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) organization.

“Today we have made one more step in the struggle for civil unions, which we began a decade ago. What was a dream is now becoming real.”

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The bill was introduced in 2011 by the ruling center-right National Renewal (RN), but has been stalled due to strong opposition from its coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party.

Chile’s incoming President-elect Michelle Bachelet, of the Socialist Party, ran an election campaign pledging a free vote in Congress on full marriage equality.

However, Movilh is cautious about Bachelet’s promise, as spokesperson Oscar Rementería told The Santiago Times: “When Michelle Bachelet was last president [2006-2010] she promised three things regarding sexual equality, none of which her administration delivered,” he said.

“As such, we cannot have complete confidence that she is going to deliver what she promises this time around.”

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