President of Chile signs civil unions bill into law

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The President of Chile has given her approval to a bill that will introduce civil unions for same-sex couples.

The bill cleared the legislature in January, when it was approved by 86 legislators in the Chamber of Deputies, with only 23 voting against it, and two abstentions.

It then passed to the desk of President Michelle signed  – who today signed it into law.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Bachelet said: “The civil union law is a vindication in the struggle for sexual diversity rights.”

Rolando Jiménez of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation told the Washington Blade: “Today is a historic day for sexual diversity.

“The state for the first time recognises that there is not just one way to make a family.

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“From today the state protects family diversity and takes responsibility for historic injustices based upon prejudices and taboos that never should have existed.”

It is just the first step in the country, which maintains a ban on same-sex marriage and adoption, and has an unequal age of consent.

However, President Bachelet in February refused to defend her country’s ban on same-sex marriage in court – meaning that equality could be moving fast in the country.

LGBT activists in Chile still call for same-sex marriage to be legalised, but many have welcomed the step in the right direction that is civil unions.

The new bill allows couples, among other things, to inherit each other’s property, join their partner’s health plan and receive pension benefits.

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