Chile’s lawmakers, following the brutal murder of a young gay man in a suspected neo-Nazi attack, have passed a gay inclusive anti-discrimination and hate crimes law.
The law had been stuck in Chile’s legislative process for the last seven years.
The law enables people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits and adds hate-crime sentences for violent crimes. Gay activists waved Chilean flags when it passed by a vote of 25-to-3.
The law was stuck in Congress for seven years, but President Sebastian Pinera put it on the fast track after the death of Daniel Zamudio in March prompted people all across Chile to discuss hate crimes.
This is the beginning of the end for those who discriminate against sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin and race,” Gay Liberation and Integration Movement President Rolando Jimenez said. “Today citizens have a judicial tool to defend themselves against discrimination. That is very good news. Starting today, Chile is a better place to live.”
The text of the bill describes illegal discrimination as “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 established by the constitution or in international human rights treaties ratified by Chile.”
As noted above, this follows the†brutal murder of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio. The young man died†from the horrific injuries he sustained in early March when a gang of men beat him†with bottles and rocks, cut off part of his ear, and allegedly used glass to carve three swastikas into his flesh. Doctors were forced to induce a coma so as to try and give Zamudio the best chance of survival but, despite early indications that he might survive, Zamudio’s condition worsened and he was unable to recover.
Charges against the suspects in this case, four men aged between 19 and 25, have been upped from attempted murder to aggravated murder. So far the men have all denied the charges.
While a nondiscrimination and hate crimes law would not have actively prevented Zamudio’s death, the holistic effect of such legislation, that is to say the fact that affected classes are given legal remedies to challenge discrimination, is known to reduce levels of bias related crimes over the long term.
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