The issue of marriage equality became majorly divisive during the first televised debate between two potential presidential nominees for the Chilean Christian Democrat party.

One of the potential candidates, Claudio Orrego, who just finished his second term as mayor of the city of Peñalolén, said he supported the possibility of civil unions, but that marriage should be between one man and one woman, AfterMarriage reported. He said:

“I have firmly supported the Acuerdo de Vida en Común, the anti-discrimination law, and I think and believe, like many Chileans, that marriage as an institution is between a man and a woman and this doesn’t seem to me to be arbitrary discrimination. I think it is part of the anthropology of life.”

His opponent, Senator Ximena Rincón, responded that she opposed all discrimination, and said that “if there is love”, there is no reason to not allow same-sex couples to marry.

As well as being a divisive issue during the debate, the Chilean government has made clear that passing a civil union law would be among its top priorities in 2013.

Cecilia Pérez, the spokeswoman for the administration of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, said the civil unions law would be one of the President’s top priorities. Ms Pérez said:

“As we did last year winning approval of the Anti-discrimination Law, we are convinced that the [Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja] is another significant step for Chile to continue advancing down the path of integration and equality in order to construct a more inclusive and respectful society.”

On 12 July the Chilean President signed anti-discrimination legislation into law. The move came after the Neo-Nazi killing of a gay man, Daniel Zamudio, in March.

Mr Zamudio’s killing shocked Chile and sparked a national debate on hate crime. He suffered severe head injuries and his body was found in a city park with cigarette burns and swastikas carved in his skin.

Back in March, a gay judge won a custody case against the Chilean courts which had taken away her three daughters in 2004 believing her sexuality to put their development ‘at risk’.