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Lawmakers in Chile have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The law is being called a "step forward" for equality in the conservative Latin American country.
Chile's Congress passed a bill Tuesday recognizing the legal rights of same-sex couples to marry.
The Senate and lower house both voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure.
The passage of the law Tuesday was lauded by rights groups, equal marriage rights advocates and same-sex couples.
Ramon Lopez told AFP news agency at the doors to Congress that he was waiting for the law's passage so he could marry his partner of 21 years.
"It is something very significant," Lopez said, adding, "One really feels dignified as a human being, as a person. This opens the doors and breaks down all those prejudices."
After the vote, Chile's minister of social development, Karla Rubilar, said it was "one more step forward in terms of justice, in terms of equality, recognizing that love is love."
The passage of the bill marks something of a milestone for the conservative Latin American nation.
Former President Michelle Bachelet first introduced the measure in 2017.
Civil unions have been allowed in Chile since 2015.
President Sebastian Pinera supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law before leaves office in March.
The new law granting same-sex couples who wish to marry the same rights as heterosexual couples will come into effect 90 days after the bill is published in Chile's official gazette.
It also means same-sex couples with children will see both parents receive full legal recognition.
With the passage of the bill, Chile joins over 20 countries worldwide, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay in Latin America, in legalizing same-sex marriage.
Chile faces a pivotal run-off in the presidential election on December 19. Chileans will choose between progressive candidate Gabriel Boric and the socially conservative Jose Antonio Kast.
Despite a long-held reputation for holding conservative values, most Chileans support same-sex marriage rights.
In what is perceived as a nod to centrist voters, the conservative candidate Kast has said he would have passed the bill had he been president.
In recent years, Chileans have indicated a shift to the left on social and cultural matters.
ar/wmr (AFP, Reuters)