Chile's President Proposes Civil Unions for Gay and Lesbian Couples

Chile's conservative president Sebastian Piñera proposed legislation on Tuesday, August 9, that would recognize civil unions for gay and lesbian couples and give them some of the same protections that are currently secured only by married couples.

“All forms of marriage deserve respect, dignity and the support of the state,” said President Piñera, who signed the proposal and sent it to Congress.

“This puts opposite-sex and same-sex couples on the same footing, because in both cases it is possible to develop love, affection and respect.”

Piñera was elected in 2010 and fulfills a campaign promise by signing this bill, which would give inheritance, social welfare, health care, and other benefits to gay and lesbian couples as well as unmarried straight couples. It is called the “Life Partner Agreement” (Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja), and it is estimated that around 2 million Chileans would qualify.

Although Piñera remains opposed to marriage equality, “that conviction does not prevent me from recognizing that other forms of affective relationships exist,” he said.

Currently, Argentina has passed marriage equality and both Brazil and Uruguay allow civil unions. (Advocates in Uruguay expect this legislation to soon expand into full marriage equality.) Mexico City and certain states in Mexico also allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt, which the country’s Supreme Court ruled must be recognized across the nation.

GLAAD applauds President Piñera’s initiative towards equality and urges media to continue their coverage of this important story.