A law which recognizes the unions of
gay and lesbian couples takes effect Thursday in Chile.
Chile's civil union law applies to
opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
The legislation, first introduced in
2011 by former President Sebastian Pinera, allows couples living
together to enter a legal contract. As many as 2 people could
benefit from the law.
Co-habiting couples who register their
unions will be able to claim pension benefits and inherit property if
their partner dies. Registering will also make it easier to get
custody of a partner's child in the event he or she dies.
According to the BBC, 1,600 couples
have expressed interest in registering their unions.
Several lawmakers have backed
legislation which would make Chile only the fourth South American
country behind Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to allow gay couples to
marry. Gay couples can also marry in several states in Mexico, plus
the federal district of Mexico City.