Landmark laws protecting LGBTI rights passed in Argentina and Chile
Freedom House applauds the approval of two landmark laws in Argentina and Chile this week, which protect and advance the rights of minorities, in particular Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.
On May 9, the Argentinean Senate passed the “Gender Identity Law,” which allows any adult to legally change his or her gender or birth name, without medical or legal approval. The law also includes sex-change surgery and hormone treatment in government health insurance plans. The law, which was approved by 55-0 in the Senate, is the second law protecting LGBTI rights in Argentina, after the legalization of sex marriage in 2010.
The same day, Chile passed an anti-discrimination law, which recognizes diversity and penalizes all forms of discrimination. The new legislation also mandates all government agencies to develop public policies to promote diversity. Although not specifically written to protect LGTBI rights, the Chilean senate passed the law after the brutal killing of Daniel Zamudio, a young openly gay man, who was brutally beaten, burnt and marked with swastikas in his body. The law had previously been stuck in Congress for more than seven years. During that time, the Gay Liberation and Integration Movement in Chile reported 223 discrimination cases and 18 killings related to sexual orientation.
“Argentina is far ahead of any other country in the region in legal protections to LGBTI rights. The law approved this week is critical because it provides legal and medical rights to transgender people, which are typically the most vulnerable group within the LGBTI population,” said Viviana Giacaman, director for Latin America programs at Freedom House. “On the other hand, while we welcome it, the Chilean law is a timid –yet important— step towards protections of minorities in a traditionally conservative country.”
Freedom House has expressed its concern about the spike in attacks against LGBTI people throughout the region, and urged states to strengthen their legal frameworks to protect this vulnerable group.
Chile is ranked “Free” in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and “Partly Free” in Freedom of the Press 2012. Argentina is ranked “Free” in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and “Partly Free” in Freedom of the Press 2012.