President of Chile promises to finally push forward same-sex marriage bill

Sebastián Piñera Chile same-sex marriage

Chile’s president Sebastián Piñera has said he will aim to push through a same-sex marriage bill that has been languishing in parliament for years.

The government introduced civil partnerships in 2015, but a same-sex marriage bill that was first introduced in 2017 has so far failed to make its way through parliament.

Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday (1 June), Piñera said it is time for the historically conservative country to legalise same-sex marriage, according to Reuters.

“I think we should deepen the value of freedom including the freedom to love and to form a family with a loved one,” Piñera said.

“The time has come to guarantee this freedom and dignity to all people. I think the time has come for same-sex marriage in our country.”

He added: “All people, regardless of their sexual orientation, will be able to live, love and form a family with all the protection and dignity they need and deserve.”

Chile’s same-sex marriage bill stalled in parliament in 2017

The same-sex marriage bill was first introduced by left-leaning former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet in 2017 after three same-sex couples filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) over their lack of access to marriage.

The bill would have changed the definition of marriage in the country’s civil code so that marriage was defined as a “union between two people”. If passed, it would give married same-sex couples joint adoption rights and parenthood rights.

Bachelet passed the bill to Congress in August 2017, but it promptly stalled, leaving queer couples in limbo.

In 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that 16 countries – including Chile – should legalise same-sex marriage.

The court ordered governments to “guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the proaction of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without distinction”.

Despite this, the mostly Catholic country has so far failed to make marriage equality a reality.