Chile’s first gay couple gets married as equality law finally comes into effect: ‘Long live Chile!’

Same-sex newlyweds Jaime Nazar (L) and Javier Silva (R) pose whole holding their two kids

In a rare bit of good news, Chile welcomed its first-ever same-sex newlyweds as the country’s equal marriage law finally came into effect.

Holding their two boys in their arms, Javier Silva and Jaime Nazar exchanged vows before sharing a kiss in the Civil Registry of Providencia of Santiago, Chile’s capital city, in a historic moment for the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

A couple for six years, the pair have long dreamed of getting hitched not only to celebrate their love but to give them full legal status as parents, given that the South American nation’s conservative laws have long stymied them. They have two children, 20-month-old Clemente and four-month-old Lola María.

Joining Silva and Nazar on Thursday morning (10 March) was Consuelo Morales Aros and Pabla Heuser Amaya. Together for 16 years, the couple married for similar reasons, they told the BBC, for their two-year-old daughter, Josefa.

While queer people in Chile have been able to enter civil partnerships since 2015, the union’s benefits fall far short of marriage, especially for children.

Newlyweds Paula Heuser (L) and Consuelo Morales (R) pose after their wedding in Santiago. (CLAUDIO REYES/AFP via Getty Images)

Given that Aros and Amaya had Josefa through in-vitro fertilisation, only the woman who gave birth (Amaya) was legally recognised as their child’s biological parent.

This all but barred Aros from having any legal say in her child’s medical care. If they ever separated, she would have no custody over Josefa either.

Now the pairs tied the knot in a ceremony that capped off a years-long battle for marriage equality. Introduced by the left-wing president Michelle Bachelet in 2017, a bill to legalise same-sex marriage waned for four years in Congress before finally being passed last December.

By overwhelming majorities in both chambers, lawmakers voted for marriage equality, making Chile the 31st nation to do so in the world and the eighth Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage.

But how Chile came to legalise marriage equality was a shocking one. President Sebastián Piñera, of the liberal conservative National Renewal party, startled the political establishment and the Catholic Church in June when he came out in favour of the union, something he has been a longtime opponent of.

Government ministers including justice minister Hernán Larraín and social development minister Karla Rubilar attended the landmark ceremonies, where the newlyweds were handed Chile’s first inclusive marriage book – replacing the words “husband” and “wife” with “spouse”, according to the Civil Registry Office.

The news will be a relief to the some 300 LGBT+ families who are hoping to get married to have their children legally recognised, according to Fundación Iguales, an LGBT+ rights group.

“From today, Chila has ‘husband and husband’ and ‘wife and wife’,” tweeted Movilh, Chile’s leading LGBT+ rights organisation. “No more discrimination. Long live Chile.”

“Today, we strongly affirm that love is love,” wrote Lorena Recabarren, the undersecretary of human rights, “recognising all families, regardless of their sexual orientation.”