Anti-discrimination Law Approved in Chile
SANTIAGO — An Anti-discrimination Law was approved last Wednesday night by the Senate, after seven years of discussion in the Chilean Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The project still needs to be analyzed by the Constitutional Tribunal, which will verify if the law is in accordance with the constitution. This is the last step before the law can enter into effect.
The Anti-discrimination law created controversy in the country. Some parliamentarians opposed the inclusion of the categories of sexual orientation and identity among the ones to be protected. The debate was heated by the aggression towards Daniel Zamudio, which resulted in his death last March. He was beaten to death by a group of four men, supposedly because he was homosexual. The episode hastened the voting process and gave the law its name: Zamudio’s Law.
The law was approved by a joint committee of senators and deputies on May 3. Last night, the voting in the Senate ended with 25 votes in favor, three against and three abstentions.
Organizations that represent human rights and sexual diversity commemorated the approval of the project. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stated that law brings Chile closer to international patterns of protection of the human rights.
Chile, after seven years of discussion, now has a law that prohibits discrimination and explicitly includes people of sexual diversity. It is an “unquestionable advance”, says UNESCO’s regional HIV advisor in the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mary Guinn Delaney, to ILC News.
Delaney also points out the need for government measures to ensure that the law will have practical effects. “Any member of a sexual minority (or other discriminated group) would say that having a law that protects them is a major breakthrough. However, it still lacks the mechanisms that commit the state to working on preventing the formation of discriminatory attitudes from childhood,” she told ILC News.
The legal definition of discrimination is “any distinction, exclusion or restriction, without reasonable justification, made by state officials or private individuals and causing deprivation, disruption or threat to the legitimate exercise of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic or in international human rights treaties ratified by Chile.”
The categories to be protected in the law are race or ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, ideology or political opinion, religion or belief, association or participation in trade associations or lack thereof, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, affiliation, personal appearance and illness or disability.
In a statement, the Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh) affirms that the approval of the Anti-discrimination law is the result of a fight that started in 2002, even before the project started to be discussed in the parliament. Since then, 838 denounces of disrespect towards the rights of homosexuals were reported in Chile. Among them were 18 cases of murder and 66 of physical aggression.
“A law does not solve everything, we know. Nor does it eradicate discrimination. However, it raises awareness, and contributes to it. It ends the impunity enjoyed by classism, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and other forms of discrimination,” declared the organization in the release.
According to Movilh, in Chile only 7.4 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people report the abuses they suffer.
The Anti-discrimination law establishes that if the discrimination is confirmed, the offender must pay a fine of between CLP$183,245 to CLP$1,832,450. If it is concluded that there was no discrimination, the fine will be applied to any complainant of between CLP$73,298 to CLP$732,980.