Chile President Sebastian Pinera is
expected next week to introduce a bill that would legalize civil
unions for gay and lesbian couples, the
Pinera's bill would allow gay and
straight couples who have lived together for more than one year to
enter a legal contract called the Non-Marital Cohabitation Agreement.
The conservative lawmaker told daily El
Mercurio that his measure seeks to “protect and safeguard”
the civil rights of couples living outside of marriage and “safeguard
the dignity of those couples, whether of opposite sex or even the
Last month, Chile's largest gay rights
group MOVILH demonstrated against Pinera's unkept campaign promise to
back a civil unions bill.
The moves come 10 months after Senator
Fulvio Rossi, the president of the Socialist Party, implied the Roman
Catholic Church had strong-armed four senators to withdraw their
support for his gay marriage bill. Rossi insisted the church's loud
criticism would not deter him and that he would not withdraw his
bill. However, the measure has gained little traction.
Last year, neighboring Argentina
legalized gay marriage. Gay and lesbian couples can also marry in
the city-state of Mexico City and their marriages are recognized
throughout the country. Uruguay
is also considering a gay marriage law.