Lawmakers in Chile on Tuesday approved a measure to legalize same-sex marriage and grant couples parental rights ahead of the nation's presidential runoff on December 19. File Photo by Alberto Valdes/EPA-EFE
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Chile voted to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday, a landmark victory for gay rights in the Latin American nation.
The measure was passed by majorities in both chambers of the National Congress, and will allow same-sex couples parental rights, which was previously not possible under the Civil Union act.
The measure will be signed into law as the nation awaits a runoff presidential vote between far-right congressman Jose Antonio Kast, who has said that "society works best with heterosexual couples" and former student protest leader Gabriel Boric on Dec. 19.
"Marriage equality is a ray of sunshine, a bit of hope," said Isabel Amor, director of the gay rights organization Iguales, adding that the nation's LGBTQ community is in a "very fragile state" facing the threat of a Kast presidency.
Kast said he disagreed with the law during a meeting with evangelical leaders Tuesday afternoon.
"We respect democracy, but that doesn't mean we change our convictions," he said. "For us, marriage is between a man and a woman."
Chile is the 31st nation to legalize same-sex marriage and the sixth in South America, alongside Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.
The change comes amid a political upheaval in the country, which voted to rewrite its constitution last year following protests.
"The political class had been deaf, blind and mute regarding a series of matters on which civil society and ordinary Chileans had advanced," Rolando Jimenez, one of the leaders of Movilh, a leading gay rights organization in Chile, said.