Chile to Allow Same-Sex Unions

File:Flag of Chile.svg
We can expect to see the first civil unions taking place in Chile over the next six-months. 

The country's president Michelle Bachelet signed the bill on Monday, and it's expected that up to two million people will benefit from the law change. 

This is great news for same-sex couples in Chile, and it's importance shouldn't be underestimated. Being in a legally recognised relationship isn't just about having a ring on a finger or an excuse for a party. Becoming a civil partner gives an individual a number of key legal rights that wouldn't be the case otherwise: access to inheritance and pension funds, for example. In particular, the rights gained after the death of a spouse can make all the difference to their grieving partner especially if children are involved. 

As a predominately Catholic country however, Chile is always going to have a fight on its hands when it comes to universal sexual equality. At present, for example, the age of consent is 14 for heterosexuals and 18 for homosexuals. Surprisingly however, Chile already has legislation in place to protect gay and lesbian individuals from prejudice: in 2012 a bill was passed that banned any discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, so there is hope of further progress.  

Campaigners are certainly hopeful that this latest legal change will eventually bring them to the acceptance of same-sex marriage, too. 







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