Conservative politicians in Chile are working to water down new legislation that would protect gay people at work.

The Chilean Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH), sais that some Senators are attempting to water down an anti-discrimination bill currently before the Senate.

“The right is waging a tremendous campaign against the bill, with the aim of removing the clause about sexual orientation from the text,” Rolando Jimenez, the head of MOVILH, told IPS News.

He accused some right wing opposition parliamentarians of “deceitfully and treacherously” trying to undermine sexual orientation protections while publicly backing them.

The Roman Catholic church wants exemptions from the proposed new laws outlawing discrimination.

Gay rights leaders in Chile have have recently been disappointed at the government’s stance regarding a lesbian teacher who is being denied re-certification.

Sandra Pavez taught religious education at a state elementary school in Santiago for 21 years.

The Roman Catholic church revoked her permission to teach religion after finding out she is a lesbian.

In Chile religious education teachers legally have to be certified by a religious authority in order to teach.

In November an appeals court rejected Ms Pavez’ claim that her constitutional rights had been violated by the actions of the church.

MOVILH president Rolando Jiménez told The Santiago Times that despite the publicity surrounding the case, the education ministry did not take a clear stance on Ms Pavez’s case.

“When it comes to issues that have to do with sexual orientation, with discrimination, the minister looks away, looks at the ceiling, and there’s no response, no initiative on the part of the ministry,” Mr Jiménez said.

“Here, the ministry of education and President Michelle Bachelet are rowing in different directions.

“While the Ministry doesn’t want to clarify whether or not it rejects discrimination based on sexual orientation, the President has rejected homophobia in various speeches. This is unbelievable.”

Homosexual sex was decriminalised in Chile in 1998, but the age of consent is 18 as opposed to 12 for heterosexual sex.