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Chile: 1600 Gay Couples Register For Civil Unions As It Becomes Legal

Chile: 1600 Gay Couples Register For Civil Unions As It Becomes Legal

Photo via WikiCommons/CuidadanoGay

While not full marriage, activists hail the move as an important first step. 

For Chile, one of the most socially conservative countries in South America, today marks a huge step forward. A bill allowing for same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, which will afford many rights guaranteed to married couples, has finally come into effect, and officials report that already upwards of 1600 gay and lesbian couples have registered to have their relationships recognized.

Like its neighbors, Chile is a predominantly Catholic country. However, while Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay have legalized same-sex marriage, Chile had for a long time made little progress on social issues--divorce was only legalized in 2004, and abortion remains illegal. Current president Michelle Bachelet supports full marriage equality, and today's historic shift is the result of efforts began by her predecessor, Sebastian Pinera. Polls show only about a quarter of the population support same-sex marriage, while a majority approve of civil unions.

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