Chile has seen attacks on gay, lesbian, and transgender people before, but none has brought out so much support for the family and such universal condemnation of the attackers, says Zuliana Araya, of the Aphrodite Transgender Union in Valparaiso.
“I think it’s the swastikas,” she said.
Still, there is no guarantee that the gay community’s call for a law against discrimination or hate crimes will be passed. Legislators of the conservative UDI party have said they don’t want to open the door to adoption by gay couples. “Through this window, someone could come along tomorrow and claim that there is discrimination against two people of the same sex who want to adopt a child, to which I am completely opposed,” Felipe Ward, a UDI senator, told the TVN network.
While Chile is ahead of its South American peers on economic output per capita and controlling violent crime, it is falling behind on gay rights. Neighboring Argentina began to allow gay marriage in 2010, and Brazil prohibits most discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Gay sex was illegal in Chile as recently as 1999, while Brazil allowed it as of 1831, according to a report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador all have constitutional provisions forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, while no such laws exist in Chile.