Tens of thousands of activists on
Saturday joined a protest in Santiago, Chile to demand passage of
laws that would extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples and
protect transgender people.
According to organizer the Movement for
Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), 100,000 people
attended the protest. Demonstrators marched from Plaza Italia to
Plaza Los Heroes, where a cultural and political festival lasted into
the night, news service EFE reported.
The government of President Michelle
Bachelet backs these reforms and has introduced legislation. The
administration agreed to introduce a marriage equality bill last year
after Movilh filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights on behalf of three gay couples who are seeking to marry in Chile.
Debate on the bill is expected to begin
But Bachelet's term in office is coming
to a close and a leading candidate to replace her, former President
Sebastian Pinera, is opposed to the changes.
Pinera will face Alejandro Guillier in
a second round of voting on December 17. Guillier said that he
participated in Saturday's march with the aim of “defending the
inclusive and diverse Chile that we dream of.”
Movilh's Rolando Jimenez said that
discrimination against transgender people creates “problems at
work, education and in the families,” and that this “vicious
circle of vulnerability” must be broken.
Movilh said that the bill on
transgender protections has stalled due to a lack of political will.
Since 2015, Chile has recognized gay
couples with civil unions.