Chile’s Congress Passes Anti-Discrimination Law
SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chile's Congress passed an anti-discrimination law Wednesday following the killing of a gay man whose attackers beat him and carved swastikas into his body.
The House of Deputies approved the law in a close 58-56 vote, seven years after it was first proposed. The Senate passed the law in November. Some passages remain to be finalized in a commission of senators and House lawmakers.
President Sebastian Pinera had urged lawmakers to accelerate approval of the law after 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio died March 27. Zamudio's death came more than three weeks after he was attacked, and his case set off a national debate about hate crimes in Chile.
Four suspects have been jailed, some of whom already have criminal records for attacks on gays. Prosecutors have asked for murder charges in the case.
Zamudio, a clothing store salesman, was attacked in a park in Santiago on March 3. The suspects allegedly beat him for an hour, burning him with cigarettes and carving Nazi symbols into his body.
The leader of Chile's Gay Liberation and Integration Movement, Rolando Jimenez, has said the suspects should be charged with torture as well.
After Zamudio died last week, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for Chile to pass new laws against hate crimes and discrimination.
Some Protestant churches had opposed the anti-discrimination law, saying it could be a first step toward gay marriage, which Chile forbids and which is not explicitly included in the measure. The Roman Catholic Church also expressed some concerns about the law.
The law describes as illegal discrimination "any distinction, exclusion or restriction that lacks reasonable justification, committed by agents of the state or individuals, and that causes the deprivation, disturbance or threatens the legitimate exercise of fundamental rights."