Chile: Gay couples sign up for first civil unions

Gay couples flock to civil registry offices in Chile to schedule the first same-sex civil unions since they were approved in the country earlier this year.

Thursday (July 9) was the first day that couples could apply for the licence, after a bill approving same-sex civil unions was signed by the country’s President Michelle Bachelet back in April.

The first same-sex civil ceremonies will take place in October, and while the LGBT community in Chile still fights for the right to marry, many see this as the first step on the to gaining full equal rights for sam-sex couples.

Many couples took to Twitter to share their joy and excitement, as well as to announce the date on which their ceremonies will take place.

“We were the FIRST couple that signed up,” wrote Felipe Egido, who shared a picture of himself and his partner stood next to a civil Chilean servant.

Gay author Pablo Simonetti and his partner, José Pedro Godoy, were also among the same-sex couples who applied for licenses in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

And out council member, Jamie Parada, and his fiancé, Victor Fuentes, wrote: “The next party will be on the 24th October. Thank you very much for all the support!”

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

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

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

Only a small group of Latin American nations – including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay – currently allow same-sex marriage.

In Mexico, a court recently ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, effectively legalising it.