Both houses of Chile’s Congress have voted to legalize same-sex marriage, and President Sebastian Piñera is expected to sign the marriage bill into law.
The lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, approved the bill Tuesday, CNN reports. The Senate had already OK’d it.
Piñera, a conservative, once opposed marriage equality, but this year he came out in support of it, and his endorsement was key to moving the legislation along.
“I think the time has come for equal marriage in our country,” he said in June. “In this way, all people, without distinguishing by sexual orientation, will be able to live, love, and form a family with all the protection and dignity that they need and deserve.”
Chile has offered civil unions to same-sex couples since 2015, but those did not confer some of the rights of marriage, such as adoption. The previous president, Michelle Bachelet, had proposed a marriage equality bill in 2017.
When Piñera signs the bill into law, it will make Chile the 31st nation in the world with marriage equality, and it will go far toward making it “the norm in Latin America,” The New York Times reports. Same-sex marriage is already legal in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay, and some portions of Mexico.
Chile’s move comes amid a call for many reforms in the country. “Millions of Chileans took to the streets in 2019 in protests that culminated in a vote to scrap the Constitution, a document inherited from Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, and rewrite the laws that frame the nation,” the Times notes.
“The political class had been deaf, blind, and mute regarding a series of matters on which civil society and ordinary Chileans had advanced,” Rolando Jiménez, one of the leaders of Chilean LGBTQ+ rights group Movilh, told the Times.
Chile will choose a new president December 19; Piñera is not running for reelection. The candidates are Gabriel Boric, a liberal former student activist, and José Antonio Kast, a conservative who opposes marriage equality and could stifle further progress on LGBTQ+ rights. “We respect democracy, but that doesn’t mean we change our convictions,” Kast told evangelical leaders Tuesday. “For us, marriage is between a man and a woman.” But he said that if marriage equality is already the law, he could not change that.