16 Jun 2022 Chile Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Joining Latin America in Embracing LGBTQ Rights
In a historic event, Chile recently welcomed its first legal same-sex marriage, joining the ranks of 30 other countries worldwide that have passed similar laws allowing same-sex marriage and, in doing so, ensuring same-sex spouses have the same parental rights as heterosexual married couples.
On March 10, 2022, Javier Silva and Jaime Nazar became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Chile. “Being the first [same-sex couple] to get married in Chile is an honor,” Silva said at the registry office in Chile’s capital, according to The Los Angeles Times. Silva, an engineer, and Nazar, a dentist, have been together for seven years, together in a civil union for three years, and share two children born using assisted reproductive technology. Their 18-month-old son and 4-month-old daughter, both born via surrogate using the sperm of one of the spouses, were present for the marriage, but until now, only the spouse whose sperm was used in conception was legally recognized as the parent of each child.
Now, with their legal marriage, both dads can claim parental rights. Silvan went on to say in the LA Times, “Now we can say that we are family, that our children have the same conditions and will be able to, we hope, have a better future, that they will not be discriminated against for having two fathers who love each other.”
Chile Same-Sex Marriage Law Stalled Since 2017
Although Chile legalized same-sex unions in 2015, the nation has been anxiously awaiting since 2017 the passage of this new bill, which legalizes same-sex marriage and grants both spouses parental rights for children born during their marriage. The bill hung in limbo until last summer, when Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who long opposed same-sex marriage, seemed to change his mind. As stated in The New York Times, in summer 2021 Pinera startled the nation by suddenly backing same-sex marriage and urging the passing of this bill that seemed to have been put on ice. Shortly after passing the Chilean senate, it passed in the lower house of parliament with an overwhelming 82-to-20 vote.
The new law marks a significant political shift in Chile. More conservative than other Latin American countries, Chile’s politics have reflected conventional ideologies for decades. Over the last decade, however, there has been a slow movement of reckoning, so to speak. As Rolando Jimenez, one of the leaders of prominent Chilean gay rights organization Movilh, states in The New York Times, “The political class had been deaf, blind and mute regarding a series of matters on which civil society and ordinary Chileans had advanced.” Simply put, the political establishment is catching up to the way the modern Chilean thinks, and that includes support for LGBTQ equal rights.
Silva and Nazar’s marriage was one of three same-sex marriages on the day the law took effect in Chile. Another couple married that day, Consuelo Morales and Pabla Heuser, say the main reason they got married was for their 2-year-old daughter, Jesefa. Until that day, Heuser had been considered their daughter’s sole legal parent because she had been the one to carry Jesefa in her womb. As Morales told CBS News, “Today, Jesefa ceases to be an illegitimate daughter.”
During this LGBTQ+ Pride Month 2022, the stories coming out of Chile renew our conviction that the arc of history continues to bend toward equal rights and reproductive freedom for all. As Chile becomes the 31st country to legalize same-sex marriage, joining the ranks of Latin America neighbors such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Coast Rica, and multiple states in Mexico, I am reminded that, over time, nations do change their ideological course in the face of the universal human desires for dignity, freedom and quality of life. Chile’s recent victory for the inclusion and equality of the LGBTQ community fuels our determination, despite the ongoing right-wing war on reproductive rights, the U.S. will not go backward.