(CMR) Chile approved marriage equality legislation in a landslide vote on Tuesday with overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress. Chile is now the eighth Latin American country to allow same-sex marriage and the 31st worldwide.
President Sebastián Piñera, who is to leave office in March, opposed the legislation for years; however, six months ago, the conservative leader indicated he'd changed his position on the issue paving the way for Congress to act,
“I think the time has come to guarantee that freedom and that dignity to all people,” Piñera said in an annual speech to Congress on June 1.
“I think the time has come for marriage equality in our country,” he added.
Existing laws allow gay couples to unite under a Civil Union Pact, which was approved in 2015 and gives couples many of the same rights as married but denies them the right to adopt.
The new law will extend full parental rights to same-sex parents and expand spousal benefits and adoption rights for married same-sex couples.
According to NPR, Piñera's public change of heart prompted the bill's recent expedited push through the legislature after it languished in both houses of Congress for four years. It was first introduced in 2017 by then-President Michelle Bachelet.
Activists had been campaigning for more than a decade to have the bill passed.
“After centuries of abuse, the doors of justice, equality, and dignity have opened to same-sex couples,” one of the country's LGBTQ rights group tweeted.
The move comes less than two weeks before a run-off election in which Chileans must decide whether to replace Piñera with far-right populist Jose Antonio Kast or Gabriel Boric, a young leftist former student leader.