Chile’s President Proposes Civil Unions Legislation

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 8:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Chile's conservative president is proposing legislation that would give unmarried partners, including members of the same sex, some of the same rights now enjoyed by married couples.

President Sebastian Pinera Tuesday signed the proposal and sent it to the Chilean Congress. Some political opponents of the measure refused to attend the signing event.

President Pinera said the legislation is needed to bring important social benefits to people in committed relationships who find themselves outside the fold of traditional marriage. Two million Chileans live together without marrying and Mr. Pinera said that all couples deserve respect, dignity and the support of the state.

If the measure becomes law, it would give such couples access to inheritance and other social benefits in the mostly-Roman Catholic country, which legalized divorce in 2004. Mr. Pinera, however, says he does not believe in gay marriage.

Last year, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to recognize marriages between couples of the same sex.

Some other countries in the region have some version of civil union laws.