Chile could soon become the latest country to introduce same-sex marriage after the Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, pledged on Thursday to push forward with her long-promised equality plans.
Ms Bachelet said in her State of the Union address in the port city of Valparaiso that she will send a bill to the Chilean Congress in the second half of 2017, with the aim of allowing marriage between gay marriage.
The left-of-centre leader returned to the presidency in 2014, having previously served between 2006 and 2010.
Chile took its first steps toward legalising gay marriage earlier this year, with President Bachelet announcing in February that a “public discussion” was to take place.
Ms Bachelet said at the time that gay marriage is “not only a demand of the international justice system but a legitimate demand of Chilean society.”
Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions since 2015, when the bill was approved by 86 legislators in the Chamber of Deputies, with only 23 voting against it (and two abstentions).
The introduction of civil unions was welcomed at the time by Rolando Jiménez of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, who told the Washington Blade: “Today is a historic day for sexual diversity.
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“The state for the first time recognises that there is not just one way to make a family.”
Ms Bachelet’s push for gay marriage is of one of many actions taken by the government to make Chile more LGBT inclus
The 2012 murder of Daniel Zamudio, a 24-year-old gay man who was beaten and carved with swastikas, sparked a national outcry, galvanizing Chile’s LGBT community.
The country introduced hate-crime laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity in response.
It also supported the creation of a UN expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, something a number of countries tried to block.
If Ms Bachelet’s plan is approved in Congress, Chile would join Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Uruguay and parts of Mexico as the sixth Latin American country to legalise equal marriage.
There are currently 21 countries and territories with same-sex marriage including around 1 billion people.
Chile still has a sizeable anti-gay political wing, however, with Augusto Pinochet Molina – the grandson of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet – forming a “patriotic” anti-gay political party in 2014.
According to the Guardian, Pinochet’s party – Orden Republicano Mi Patria (“Republican Order My Country”) – firmly opposes same-sex marriage, educational reform, and abortion – but hopes to legalise marijuana.