Chile legalises same-sex marriage in historic LGBT+ victory ahead of uncertain election

Members of Chile's congress pose for a photo after the historic same-sex marriage vote

Chile has voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a historic move ahead of an uncertain presidential election later this month.

Earlier this year, Chile’s current president Sebastián Piñera expedited a marriage equality bill that had been stuck in congress for the last four years, despite same-sex civil unions having been legalised in the country in 2015.

He insisted that Chile must “guarantee this freedom and dignity to all people”.

On 23 November, the lower house approved the same-sex marriage bill with 97 to 35 votes, and on Tuesday (7 December) it passed in the senate with 82 votes to 20, according to Bloomberg News.

When the results of the vote were announced, almost all of congress gave a standing ovation.

The bill will now make its way to Piñera’s desk, and once signed, will become law within 90 days, making Chile the eighth Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage.

Diego Ibáñez, a Social Convergence member of Chile’s lower house, wrote on Twitter: “Today we pass marriage equality! What happiness to be able to pay off a historic debt and give justice to people who have built their families around love.

“Love is love and that is why we will continue working to live in a Chile without discrimination. There is still a long way to go!”

Miguel Crispi, of the Democratic Revolution party and another member of the lower house, added: “When you form the family you always wanted and nobody imposes on you what love is, you feel free. We advance in rights and true freedom. We cannot go back.”

But as Chile celebrates this historic moment, there is also a sense of apprehension over the upcoming 19 December presidential run-off between far-right populist José Antonio Kast and left-wing candidate Gabriel Boric.

An initial vote on 21 November was extremely close, with Kast receiving 28 per cent of the vote and Boric receiving 26, but neither received the 50 per cent required to win.

While Boric has supported LGBT+ rights, Kast has viciously opposed them, decrying the “gay lobby”. Kast, a staunch Catholic, also opposes abortion rights, and has defended the country’s Pinochet dictatorship.