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Topics In the News
Chile Passes Anti-Discrimination Law
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/05/12
Last updated on: 04/06/12
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A photograph of Daniel Zamudio appears on a memorial banner.

On April 4, 2012, in the wake of the death of a young gay man who was tortured by neo-Nazis, Chile's Congress has passed an anti-discrimination law. In a 58-56 vote, the House of Deputies approved the legislation, which was passed by the Senate in November. The bill is supported by President Sebastian Pinera, who urged legislators to approve it after 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio died on March 27.

Zamudio's death came more than three weeks after he was brutally assaulted. He was tortured for over an hour by assailants who carved swastikas into his body. As the Associated Press reports, the incident set off a national debate about hate crimes in Chile.

Zamudio, a clothing store salesman, was attacked in a park in Santiago on March 3. Four suspects--some of whom have criminal records for previous assaults on gay men--have been arrested and face various charges, including murder.

Rolando Jiminez, leader of Chile's Gay Liberation and Integration Movement, has called for the suspects also to be charged with torture.

Following Zamudio's death, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Chile to pass new laws against hate crimes and discrimination.

The Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant churches opposed the anti-discrimination law, saying it could be a first step toward same-sex marriage, which Chile forbids and which is not explicitly included in the measure.

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."

The law was first proposed seven years ago.

Chile's reaction to the death of Zamudio is reminiscent of the reaction of the United States to the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998.

The video clip below reports on Zamudio's funeral.

In the video below, friends react to the death of Daniel Zamudio.

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