Chile passes hate crime bill in the wake of gay man’s killing
In the wake of a national outcry over the homophobic killing of a young man, the Chilean Congress has approved an anti-discrimination bill that outlaws discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, gender, and/or sexual orientation.
The bill had languished in Congress for over seven years, but was finally fast-tracked to approval by the President, Sebastian Pinera, and it cleared its final hurdle with a 25-3 vote in the Senate.
The killing of a gay man, Daniel Zamundio, earlier this year by a neo-Nazi groups provoked a national soul-searching in Chile, where the anti-discrimination bill was prevented from being passed by religious groups, who contended that it would constitute the first step towards “gay marriage.”
Senator Alberto Espina said in a statement: “It’s an enormous culture change for our country… Chile is a country that discriminates a lot for being (indigenous) Mapuche, for being gay, for your nationality, for having disabilities. We have to acknowledge this and not sweep it under the carpet.”
Mr Zamundo was attacked on 3 March, and sustained severe head injuries and a broken leg. His body was covered in cigarette burns and in-carved Swastika symbols. He died after being in a coma for three weeks, and thousands attended his funeral in Santiago. Four men have been arrested and prosecutors will be pressing for murder charges, it is reported.