With 28 votes in favor, two against and no abstentions, the Chilean Senate overwhelmingly approved yesterday an anti-discrimination bill that would provide protections for all minority classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Also included is discrimination based on race/ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, ideology, political opinion, language, sex, marital status, age, appearance, sickness, disability, affiliation, union and guild membership. Those found in violation of the anti-discrimination statute could be fined up two million Chilean pesos (approximately 4,000 US dollars).
“We have struggled for five years so that the government may present an anti-discrimination bill to the National Congress,” said Rolando Jiménez, President of the Movement for the Integration and Liberation of Gays (MOVILH) “we succeed, and now we struggled for six more years so that it can be approved by the legislature. Today we have made a new and positive step in that path and every time we are closer to that dream.”
Initially introduced under former President Ricardo Lagos Escobar, the bill counted with the support of many local organizations present during the vote, including MOVILH, the Alliance of Psychiatric Patients’ Family Members (AFAPS), the Association of Immigrants for Latin American Integration (APILA) and TravesNavia, an alliance of transgender women.
However, changes have been made to the original bill that may be problematic. According to Jiménez, Article Two of the bill allows the possibility of discrimination based on rights guaranteed by the Chilean Constitution. Additionally, Article 18 indicates that the anti-discrimination law cannot be used to challenge any other laws that may in fact be discriminatory.
Yet despite the concessions made, the voting was not without incidents. Present during the vote were various Evangelical Christian groups, who on two occasions had to be escorted out of the Senate for disrupting the proceedings.
The bill will now proceed to the House of Deputies where it will be discussed and expected to pass quickly.