Chile Congress passes anti-discrimination law

[JURIST] The Chilean House of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] passed an anti-discrimination law [press release, in Spanish] on Wednesday in response to the killing of a 24-year-old gay man, Daniel Zamudio, by a group of alleged neo-Nazis in Santiago, Chile. The lawmakers passed the law by a vote of 58-56, after rejecting three of the Senate amendments to the bill and leaving some provisions to be finalized. The law defines arbitrary discrimination as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction that lacks reasonable justification, made by state officials or private individuals, and causing deprivation, disruption or threat to the legitimate exercise of fundamental rights" on the basis of ethnicity, marital status, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and personal appearance, among other distinctions. The Senate passed the bill in September, seven years after the bill was proposed [bill history]. After Zamudio's death last week [AP report], the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged the Chilean government [JURIST report] to pass a new law aimed at protecting its citizens from discrimination based on sexuality and gender identities.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been an ongoing issue in many countries. Last month the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] urged member states to put an end to sexual orientation-based violence [JURIST report] and discrimination. In a video address, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] acknowledged that sexual orientation and gender identity are sensitive subjects, but said action needs to be taken because lives are at stake. The Russian lower house of Parliament began consideration of a controversial bill last month that bans the spread of "homosexual propaganda" to minors [JURIST report]. The bill calls for fines of up to 500,000 rubles (USD $16,500) for promoting the homosexual lifestyle and appears to be aimed at media outlets which lawmakers blame for "promoting gay lifestyles as 'normal behavior.'" The UN has attempted to pass resolutions aimed at ending sexuality discrimination worldwide but has faced difficulty passing resolutions on gay rights issues. Last year the UNHRC passed the "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution [text, PDF], which is the first resolution to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide [JURIST report]. In 2010 Ban called for countries around the world to abolish laws discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals [JURIST report]. A year earlier, the UN passed a gay rights declaration [JURIST report] calling on states to end criminalization and persecution of homosexuals. This declaration was recalled by the new resolution.

 

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