LGBT rights groups in Chile were encouraged after Uruguay's Senate legalized gay marriage by approving a bill governing both heterosexual and homosexual marriage, The Santiago Times reported Wednesday.
The bill now goes back to Uruguay's lower house for approval. If signed by President Jose Mujica, Uruguay would be the second South American country to approve gay marriage.
Civil unions have been legal in Uruguay since 2008.
Uruguay "exemplifies the changing mentality of Latin American society," said Oscar Rementeria, spokesman for Chile's Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation.
"It sends a message to politicians and the government that same-sex couples need legal protection too," Rementeria said.
Chile's Congress has been considering President Sebastian Pinera's "Life Partner Agreement" since 2011. The country does not recognize same-sex couples, but Pinera's proposal would allow same-sex couples to register their partnership with a notary.
Laws making discrimination against homosexuals illegal were recently passed after a 24-year-old gay man was brutally attacked.
Supporters of same-sex unions in Chile hope the Life Partner Agreement will be passed before presidential elections in November.
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