Showing posts with label Chile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chile. Show all posts

April 15, 2015

Chilean President Signed Gay Unions into Law


Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday signed a law that recognizes civil unions between same-sex couples, a sign of change in a country long regarded as one South America's most socially conservative nations.
The measure had been in the works for more than four years, and its signing into law was hailed by gay advocates as step toward full marriage rights.
"This ends the monopoly of having to recognize unions, families, as just within marriage," said Rolando Jimenez, president of the Gay Liberation and Integration Movement. "This is very good news for Chile."
The new law, to take effect in six months, gives same-sex and unmarried couples many of the rights granted to married couples. Partners can inherit each other's property, join one another's health plans and receive pension benefits.
Chile has long been one of the most socially conservative countries in the region. It was one of the last countries in the world to legalize divorce when it took that step in 2004.
Chile decriminalized gay sex in 1999 and the killing of a gay man in 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.
"Today we're advancing as a society," Bachelet said at the presidential palace. "We're taking a fundamental step on this road of rights, justice and respect for individual liberties."
Civil unions have been recognized in several countries across South America, though Argentina and Uruguay are the only ones that allow gay marriage.
The civil union will be validated by simply registering it in the civil registry. Gay unions abroad can also be registered in Chile.

June 11, 2014

Chile Wants Gay marriage and also to recognize married couples in other nations


Movilh offers to drop case filed with international commission as a sign of good faith while military leaders discuss improving lives of gay service members.
Gay rights groups are pushing the Chilean government for more action. Photo by Iguales Chile / Facebook
Gay rights groups are pushing the Chilean government for more action. Photo by Iguales Chile / Facebook
The country’s largest sexual freedom organization has indicated it will retract a case lodged at an international human rights commission should the president move toward legislating on same-sex marriage. The announcement comes as the military reveals plans for a working group on anti-discrimination and further integration of gays in the armed forces.
Last May the Movement for Integration and Homosexual Freedom (Movilh) submitted a case to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights against Chile for its refusal to recognize same-sex marriage. Submitted during the administration of President Sebastián Piñera, the group is now willing to retract its case if President Michelle Bachelet moves on the issue — in October 2013, she called for an open debate that would eventually lead to a same-sex marriage bill.
“This party informs the honorable commission and, through its intermediary, the State of Chile, that it is willing to open the process for an amicable solution with the aim of achieving the full protection of same sex families in Chile,” Movilh’s statement, obtained by La Tercera, reads.
In addition to legalizing gay marriage in Chile, Movilh wants the country to legally recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other countries. Currently Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil allow same-sex marriages while Peru, Colombia and Ecuador recognize civil unions between homosexual couples.
The Life Partner Agreement (AVP), which would legalize civil unions between same-sex couples was approved by the Senate in January and Bachelet marked it as urgent in March.
With the passing of Chile’s first anti-discrimination law and increased government support for adoption by same-sex ahead of a pro-adoption march expected to draw thousands, Chile has been making moves towards more rights and support for its LGBTQ community.
However, Movilh has made it clear it will move forward with the commission if the government does not cooperate with it through dialogue to work to change Chilean laws.
The commission has recently ruled against Chile in a separate case involved gay rights. In 2010 it ruled in favor of Judge Karen Atala, who was denied custody of her daughters after her ex-husband brought her to court on the grounds that her homosexual lifestyle jeopardized the children. In the ruling, the commission called on Chile to address damages to the family, but also to ensure equality throughout the country.
“The commission asks the court to order Chile to … adopt measures to prevent the repetition of these violations, including legislation, public policies, programs and initiatives to prohibit and eradicate discrimination based on sexual orientation in all areas of the exercise of public power, including the administration of justice,” the ruling read.
Movilh is not slated, however, to participate in another dialogue announced last week by the Armed Forces of Chile. Military leaders have said they will be discussing measures to reduce discrimination and better integrate gay service members, with representatives of different groups, but Movilh has said it would prefer to speak directly with the Armed Forces.
The Defense Ministry has agreed to set up a working group that will meet over several months, lead by Defense Sub-Secretary Marcos Robledo, with leaders of human rights groups including Jaime Parada and Luis Larraín of Fundación Iguales.
Central to the working group will be discussion over ensuring the military operates internally within legal framework of the country’s 2013 anti-discrimination law — known as the Zamudio Law after the young Daniel Zamudio killed in a homophobic hate crime in 2012. The working group will also work to deepen stipulations outlined in its selection process. While directly inquiring about an applicant’s sexual orientation was legally prohibited under Piñera, the system still allows for indirect questioning that may lead to information regarding sexuality.
“We told them that to comply with anti-discrimination laws implies that the Armed Forces are not simply not expelling a person for being gay, but that, effectively, creating conditions that will give a gay gay, lesbian or transsexual person equal opportunities to make a career, even to become Commander in Chief,” Larraín said in an interview. “According to the law, that should be possible.”
Reacting to the plan put forward by the Defense Ministry, Ignacio Urrutia of the right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party who is a member of the Defense Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, came out strongly against the further inclusion of gays in the military.
“If someone is homosexual, that is their life choice, but we will not start taking the Armed Forces lightly,” Urrutia said. “All of this is just politics in order for a win for a minority group that wants to marry, wants legal matrimony, they want this and they want that.”
Other members of the government have stood behind the plan. Secretary General Alvaro Elizalde said this is just another way Chile can prevent discrimination.
“We must not forget that there has been significant progress in everything, there have been anti-discrimination laws in our country, and therefore, it is necessary to update the statute that regulates all public institutions, which certainly includes the armed forces,” Elizalde said. “This is with respect to all forms of discrimination, not only with regard to the world of diversity, but also with regard to religious minorities, ethnic minorities or people who have some degree of disability can all play roles in various public institutions.”
By Charlotte Karrlsson-Willis (
 The Santiago Times

May 6, 2014

Posters featuring same-sex couples to go up in Santiago,Chile stations

 Chilean advocacy group, Movimiento de Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), has joined forces with Metro Santiago to promote an anti-discrimination campaign that features LGBT people on posters that will be placed in the capital city’s subway stations.
The campaign, launched April 29 at the Universidad Católica station, also aims to raise awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities, seniors, pregnant women and others. The Universidad Católica station was declared a space of respect and diversity in memory of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio, a gay man who died in March 2012 after he was attacked in a park, Movilh says on its website.
Months after Zamudio’s murder, the Chilean Congress passed hate-crime legislation that had been bogged down for years. People refer to the new legislation as the Zamudio law, which allows people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits and makes provision for hate-crime sentences for violent crimes.

December 5, 2013

Chile is Changed on Gay Human Rights


Claudio Arriagada has served for 10 years as the popular mayor of La Granja, a middle-class municipality on the outskirts of the Chilean capital. When he announced a plan earlier this year to run for parliament as a Christian Democratic candidate, he seemed like a shoo-in. Then, at the party’s national convention in July, he came out publicly as gay, and criticized the party’s opposition to gay marriage.

Just a few years ago, that would have been enough to kill his candidacy. But on Nov. 17, Mr. Arriagada, the first openly gay candidate for a mainstream party in Chile’s history, was elected to parliament with a comfortable majority. And in the coverage of his win, his sexual orientation didn’t come up at all. “It’s not something relevant for anybody,” he said the next day.
This election may well prove to be the watershed moment in the slow fight for gay rights in this country. “We’re used to being on the outside, knocking, saying, ‘Please listen to us,’” said Luis Larrain, president of Fundacion Iguales – the Equals Foundation. “This time it’s different.”
Chile’s journey back from dictatorship has been a slow one, a series of gradual reforms – the country still uses the constitution imposed by General Augusto Pinochet, and drafted by a far-right Catholic politician. Gen. Pinochet was still commander of the military just 15 years ago – and the strong influence of the military encouraged social homogeneity. Even the left-wing governments in power since the transition to democracy in 1990 have had strong conservative Christian elements. None of this produced a political culture that left much space for gay rights.
Yet most Chileans have evolved much more swiftly, into a more liberal society that was not, until now, reflected in its politics. Divorce, abortion and gay rights have far greater support in public than they do among politicians, who tend to be held hostage by a binomial electoral system.
Now the influence of the slow tide of gay rights spreading across Latin America, where courts and legislators have sometimes moved faster than public opinion, has finally crested the Andes.
Uruguay was first, legalizing civil unions in 2008 and adoption by gay couples a year later. Ecuador gave gay families equal rights in 2009 (although adoption by homosexuals is still illegal). Argentina took the boldest step in 2010, with a law that permitted same-sex marriage and allowed gay couples to adopt. Brazil effectively legalized gay marriage last year, after a court ruled notaries could not refuse to marry same-sex couples.
Here in Chile, seven of nine presidential candidates in the election endorsed marriage equality, although it is not clear that Michelle Bachelet, who has a huge majority going in to the presidential runoff vote next month, will want to spend the political capital to legalize same-sex marriage. Polls show support for gay marriage at anywhere from 30 per cent to the high 40s, depending on how the question is phrased; political analysts say the lower figure is probably more accurate.
But that’s up from less than 20 per cent just five years ago, and the change is due in part to crafty strategy from gay groups.
“We’ve been able to put our claims in a context of broad inequality in our country,” Mr. Larrain said. For the past three years, Chile has seen massive student-led demonstrations about inequality in income and access to health and education; groups such as his worked to make legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people part of that debate. “We’ve tried to use words and images that speak to equality. The name of our foundation is Iguales, not Gay People Fighting for Gay Rights, and there’s a reason; it’s a strategy. And it’s been successful.”
Mr. Larrain’s personal story helps, too: He is the suave, Paris-educated son of a dictatorship-era cabinet minister – a scion of the old Chile – except he also happens to be gay and out and tweets about it. He talks publicly about how coming out brought him closer to his parents.
“Bachelet won’t do anything until she realizes it doesn’t have a huge cost,” Mr. Larrain said. “Our job is to make this visible enough and popular enough to get the polls above 50 per cent – and with those polls, she won’t be able to maintain the current situation as a progressive leader of a progressive coalition, when we’re behind five other countries in the region.”
While his group pursues the political lobbying, three Chilean couples have taken a case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, charging that the fact they cannot marry here violates Chile’s commitments as a signatory to the pan-continental human-rights treaty.
“It’s not a question any more of whether there will be marriage equality, it’s a question of when – probably within four or five years, either from government or from the commission case,” said Rolando Jimenez. He heads Chile’s oldest gay-rights group, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, known by its Spanish acronym MOVILH, which is backing the lawsuit. “Conservatives have tools to slow it, but they can’t stop it.”
The Catholic Church has been outspoken in its opposition to marriage equality, and also opposed an anti-discrimination law adopted last year because it included gay and transgender people. Evangelical Christian churches are growing rapidly in Chile, as they are throughout the region, and they, too, oppose all steps to broaden legal protection for gay and transgender rights.
But gay rights groups have engaged even the conservative elements of government – it was the outgoing right-wing government of Sebastian Pinera that introduced a civil unions bill (though it has not yet passed Congress) – and they have capitalized on international change, too, Mr. Jimenez added. “It used to be that any cultural change abroad took 20 years to reach Chile – in the digital age it’s instant.”
MOVILH had worked with government for a decade on an anti-discrimination bill that languished in Congress. But in 2012, a young gay man named Daniel Zamudio was attacked in a Santiago park, beaten and had swastikas carved into his skin. He died of his injuries 24 days later, and the crime horrified Chileans of all political persuasions. The public outcry prompted Mr. Pinera to push the anti-discrimination law through parliament.
Last month, another young man was attacked, in a working-class town a few hours from the capital. Despite the fact that the men who beat him yelled they were going to “kill the faggot,” Mr. Jimenez said, the judge in the case refused to apply the new law, saying that was a normal thing to say in a fight. The victim is still in a coma; his family came to MOVILH, who helped them appeal, and the case is going back to court as a hate-crime. Mr. Jimenez says there is still much to be done, but the speed of change is nevertheless remarkable.

“Today in Chile to say ‘I’m homophobic’ is politically incorrect. Ten years ago, it was a label, almost a medal, that you wore proudly.”

November 16, 2013

For Chile’s Presidential Candidates an Opportunity and a Challenge for Human/Gay Rights


Since the return of democracy to Chile more than two decades ago, this country has been regarded by many as an example of social and economic stability in Latin America.
With an average annual growth rate of 5.5%, some of the highest salaries in the region and low unemployment figures, Chile is seen as a role model for developing countries by Western economists.
So why would many Chileans tell pollsters that they are planning to vote for someone who advocates radical change rather than continuity in the presidential election on 17 November?
The answer may partly lie in the mass student protests of 2011.
Education dilemma
The protests, the largest since the regime of Gen Augusto Pinochet came to an end in 1990, showed that behind Chile's economic success lay an increasingly frustrated society.
A masked protester throws a stone at a demonstration in Valparaiso on 22 October, 2013The student protests often ended in violence
Chile has the most expensive higher education system in Latin America, with students and their parents struggling to pay university fees running into the tens of thousands of dollars.
According to Pamela Figueroa, director of the School of Politics at Chile's Central University, the protests have shown that a reform of the education system is crucial to fighting Chile's inequality.
"It's the biggest challenge for the next president," she says.
The disparity between Chile's top earners and the country's poorest is bigger than in any other member nation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Figures show that the average income of the wealthiest 10% is 27 times higher than that of the poorest 10%.
And every day more Chileans are speaking out against this disparity.
"Chileans know their civil and economic rights now, and they know they are empowered to change things they are not satisfied with," Ms Figueroa explains.
Public protests, from students, environmentalists, indigenous, and gay rights groups, have become more and more frequent in a way not seen in Chile since the 1990s.
A protester waves a Mapuche Nation flag during a march against the commemoration of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in Santiago on 12 October, 2013Members of the Mapuche indigenous group are demanding better representation
So how do the two main candidates in Sunday's election plan to fulfil the expectations of this empowered middle class and of a vocal student movement?
"We need an education reform, social programmes and a labour agenda that fights the big gap between those who have bigger salaries and those who have lower ones," Michelle Bachelet of the centre-left New Majority coalition told the BBC.
Ms Bachelet, who already served one term as president from 2006 to 2010, said it was time Chile entered "a new era".
She advocates a radical overhaul of Chile's fiscal policy, raising corporate dues while lowering personal income taxes.
She argues this would help fight inequality and, at the same time, fund an ambitious free public education system.
Her programme is popular with low-income and middle-class families.
Front runner
Recent polls suggest the 62-year-old paediatrician is the favourite in Sunday's election with 47% of those polled saying they would vote for her.
According to that same poll, her main rivals could trail well behind, with just 15% of those surveyed saying they would vote for candidates other than Ms Bachelet.
Ms Bachelet's main rival is 60-year-old former labour minister Evelyn Matthei, from the party of current President Sebastian Pinera, who is barred by the constitution from running again
Ms Matthei came to the campaign rather late, only being chosen as the candidate for the right after two other candidates dropped out.
Polls suggest the daughter of a former air force general may struggle to make it into the second round, but Ms Matthei says she is determined to put up a good fight.
She has warned that Ms Bachelet's plans for a fee-free public education system would blow a hole in the country's budget.
Ms Matthei advocates a "competitive education system" in which poor families can get public funding to enrol their children in school and those teachers with the best results receive subsidies.
She also favours lowering taxes for businesses, and promises to create more employment opportunities as a way of boosting equality.
If there is something Ms Bachelet, Ms Matthei and the remaining seven presidential candidates agree on, it is the need to reform Chile's constitution.
Marcel Claude, Michelle Bachelet, Evelyn Matthei, Marco Enriquez Ominami, Tomas Jocely-Holt, Ricardo Israel, Alfredo Steir Green, Franco Parisi, Roxana Miranda during a presidential candidate on 29 October, 201.A total of nine candidates are in the running for the presidency
"Chile is now a consolidated democracy, but its institutions go back to the years of Augusto Pinochet's military regime," political analyst Pamela Figueroa explains.
"There is a growing concern that the current institutions don't take into account that Chile now has a more diverse population with more social and economic rights than it used to have 30 years ago," she adds.
Most of the candidates, including Michelle Bachelet, are pushing for a totally new constitution, while Ms Matthei favours minor reforms to the current text.
What all candidates have been facing during the campaign is a strong dose of scepticism towards Chile's political class.
And, as a former president, Ms Bachelet in particular had to confront those who felt let down by her during her first term in office.
In La Pintada, a poor neighbourhood of the capital Santiago, one student is willing to give her one more chance.
"I agree we need a fair distribution of wealth, we need better education, but she lied to us once," he says referring to Ms Bachelet's failure to get education reform passed in Congress during her last term as president.
“I hope she keeps her promises this time!"

October 31, 2013

The Sadistic Chilean Murder of Daniel Zamudio Changed The Conversation About Gays in Chile

Credit: Jorge Barrios Riquelme/Wikimedia Commons
Friends and supporters of Daniel Zamudio's pass by the Plaza of Peace during the young man's funeral on March 30, 2012.
Four men beat Daniel Zamudio to death in a park in Santiago, Chile, 18 months ago. 
 Daniel Zamudio
Credit: Movilh Chile/BBC
Daniel Zamudio's sadistic murder at the hands of four men has caused many Chileans, including leading presidential candidates, to push for gay rights and to condemn homophobia.

He wasn't the first gay man to be attacked, not even to be killed, but his murder galvanized many in the country to push for gay rights and anti-discrimination laws.
Why? The BBC's Gideon Long says much of it is due to the sadistic nature of the attack.

Zamudio was walking alone in a park late at night when the men attacked him. They beat him to the ground. They kicked him. They knocked him unconscious. Then, they started to torture him — by carving swastikas into his skin, by smashing his leg with a huge rock, and then by urinating on his body before they left him for dead.
All this was describes in detail during the trial of the four men. All were convicted of murder.
The whole incident — and the response it has generated — is reminiscent of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo. Like Shepard's tragic story, the murder of Zamudio is changing the conversation about gay rights in Chile.
Months after the attack, Chile's parliament passed an anti-discrimination law. Gay rights have also become an issue in the Nov. 17 presidential election. Expected winner Michelle Bachelet publically supports gay marriage.
The BBC's Long says gay rights haven't figured in previous elections. Pride parades have also popped up in recent years. So one might think that Chile is well on its way to change.
And, it is. But, it still has a long way to go. Just last week, six people beat another gay man in a town south of Santiago. There are reports the man had one of his eyes cut out. 
"He's in a coma right now, fighting for his life," Long says. "Clearly, there is a lot of work still to do."

October 29, 2013

Young Gay Man in Coma After Hate Attack in Chile

Daniel Zamudio was murdered in 2012
Daniel Zamudio was murdered in 2012                               

A 21-year-old Chilean man is in a coma after an alleged gaybashing that took place in San Francisco de Mostazal Oct 20, Pink News reports.
According to the report, Wladimir Sepúlveda was in the company of friends when a group of men and women allegedly targeted them with anti-gay slurs, and a fight ensued. Sepúlveda initially managed to escape but his attackers caught him and allegedly punched him and repeatedly kicked him in the head, the report says.
It reportedly took about 30 minutes for emergency services to respond to the incident, and Sepúlveda's friends assisted in putting him on a stretcher because only one ambulance attendant arrived on the scene, Pink News notes.
The prognosis for Sepúlveda, who sustained serious head injuries, is grim, and LGBT group Movilh has criticized both the health services and the police for their slow response. Pink News says an unspecified number of people were arrested about four days after the incident.
The attack on Sepúlveda follows news that four men were found guilty of the murder of Daniel Zamudio, a 24-year-old gay man who was beaten, burned with cigarettes and had swastikas carved into his skin in a Santiago park. Zamudio died in hospital 20 days after the attack, which occurred in March last year. 
Patricio Ahumada Garay, Alejandro Angulo Tapia, Raul Lopez Fuentes and Fabian Mora Morahave were sentenced Oct 28. Ahumada was sentenced to life in prison, Angulo and Lopez were each given sentences of 15 years, while Mora will serve seven years, Pink News reports.
Months after Zamudio's murder, the Chilean Congress passed hate-crime legislation that had been bogged down for years.

October 18, 2013

In Chile Four Men Have Been Convicted of The Nazi Killing of Gay Young Man

  Patricio Ahumada, convicted killer of gay man Zamudio
Prosecutors have asked for life imprisonment for Patricio Ahumada
Four men in Chile have been convicted of murder for torturing and beating to death a young gay man in a Santiago park earlier this year. 

Judge Juan Carlos Urrutia said the four killers of Daniel Zamudio showed "total disrespect for human life".
They broke Mr Zamudio's leg with a heavy stone, beat him up with bottles and carved swastikas into his body with broken glass before walking away.
Daniel Zamudio - image courtesy Movilh via BBC MundoThis isDaniel Zamudio was attacked for several hour

The four are due to be sentenced on 28 October.
Patricio Ahumada, Alejandro Angulo, Raul Lopez and Fabian Mora are facing lengthy prison terms.
The attack shocked Chile and led Congress in March to approve a law against hate crimes that had been waiting to be voted for seven years.
"It is typical of us, Chileans, that an accident has to happen for us to approve a law. My son will not come back, but this case may end up being good for Chile," said Daniel's father, Ivan Zamudio.
He was in court to hear the verdict, alongside Daniel's mother, Jacqueline Vera.
"Of course I will not forgive them," Ivan Zamudio told El Mercurio newspaper.
Daniel Zamudio was attacked on the night of 2 March at the San Borja de Alameda park in the Chilean capital.
Jacqueline Vera (right), Daniel's motherJacqueline Vera leaves court in Santiago wearing a photo of her son
He was left for dead after an ordeal that lasted for several hours.
He was taken to hospital with serious injuries and died there 25 days later.
Gay activist Rolando Jimenez, president of Chile's Gay Liberation and Integration Movement, told the Associated Press news agency that he was "satisfied" with the ruling.
"There's a before and an after the Zamudio case,'' said Mr Jimenez.
Chileans were incensed at the crime
Chilean political leaders have added their voices to widespread condemnation of a savage attack on a young gay man that left him with multiple injuries.
Daniel Zamudio, 24, has been in a medically induced coma since Saturday's attack by unidentified assailants.
He had swastika-like shapes drawn on his chest, fuelling speculation that neo-Nazis were involved.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said efforts would be stepped up to pass an anti-discrimination law.
"We're going to give added urgency to the anti-discrimination law," said Mr Hinzpeter, referring to legislation currently being considered by the Chilean congress.
Chile should also consider passing a hate-crime law, he said.
Mr Zamudio was left with severe head injuries and a broken right leg after being attacked in Santiago.
He is on a ventilator and in an induced coma, but doctors say he is out of immediate danger.
Mr Zamudio's parents said it was not the first time he had been targeted because of his sexual orientation, and that his attackers were neo-Nazis.

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