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August 12, 2011

IconChilean President pushes for same-sex civil unions

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has formally proposed legislation to legalise same-sex civil unions. The move is set to fulfil a campaign promise from the conservative politician.

“All forms of marriage deserve respect, dignity and the support of the state,” announced Piñera. “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.”

However, Chile’s president does not back full marriage equality. “I deeply believe that marriage is by nature between a man and a woman, but that conviction does not prevent me from recognizing that other forms of affective relationships exist,” he explained.

The proposed law will now go before Congress for approval.

An estimated one thousand protesters recently marched against equal marriage in Chilean capital Santiago. However, in 2004 a national poll indicated that 65% of the population backed the legalisation of same-sex unions. There is also growing support for full gay marriage rights, particularly amongst young people.

Critics from both the left and right accused Piñera of attempting to appease voters disillusioned with his presidency. “The president is not listening to members of parties that are his allies, but he is listening to students,” said Independent Democrat Union deputy Gonzalo Arenas.

Riots broke out in Santiago earlier this week after tens of thousands of students took to the streets to demand changes in the education system. The country has been gripped by unrest for the past two months.

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