Same-sex couples receive first civil marriage licenses in Chile

Same-sex couples have been legally recognised in the country for the first time.

Chile’s Civil Registry made an exception to its 24-day strike last week to perform the country’s first civil union ceremonies for same-sex couples.

After 12 years of debate, President Michelle Bachelet signed the Civil Union Agreement into law in April.

Same-sex couples receive first civil marriage licenses in Chile

The bill grants cohabitation rights to both homosexual and heterosexual couples.

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

In July, gay couples flocked to civil registry offices throughout the country to schedule the first same-sex civil unions since they were approved in the country earlier this year.

While the LGBT community in Chile still has to fight for the right to marry, many see this as the first step to gaining full equal rights for same-sex couples in the country.

The country maintains a ban on same-sex marriage and adoption, and has an unequal age of consent – but activists have pledged to push for full equal rights in the Catholic majority country.

“The civil union doesn’t end our struggle. We’re demanding same-sex marriage. We’re going to request for the measures stuck in congress to be revived,” said Rolando Jimenez, president of the Gay Liberation and Integration Movement.

Same-sex couples receive first civil marriage licenses in Chile

Speaking at the bill’s signing ceremony in April, President Bachelet said the country should see “the civil union law as a vindication in the struggle for sexual diversity rights.”

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.