The Santiago Times has reported that after a legislative battle that lasted seven years, the President of Chile signed the country’s first antidiscrimination law. “It took the brutal death of Daniel Zamudio, a young homosexual man who was tortured and killed in March, for the antidiscrimination debate to be resumed and the bill to be accelerated through Congress.”
According to the Associated Press, “Zamudio was found beaten and mutilated in a city park,” and Reuters reported that he was beaten for an hour, burned with cigarettes and had swastikas carved into his skin by a group of Neo-Nazis.
After this murder, the U.N. human rights office had urged Chile to pass legislation against hate crimes and discrimination, but the bill was apparently stalled because Chile remains conservative. As the AP noted: “Some Protestant churches had opposed the anti-discrimination law, saying it could be a first step toward gay marriage, which Chile forbids and which is not explicitly included in the measure. The Roman Catholic Church, which retains a strong influence over Chilean society, also expressed some concerns about the law, but gay and human rights activists hailed the measure as a step toward equality.”
Under the new law, those convicted of hate crimes will serve harsher sentences and could see fines up to $3,600. However, as noted in The Santiago Times, some have “lamented the absence of a clause specifying compensations for victims of discrimination. The clause was present in the original bill, but was ultimately struck from the law to make it politically viable.”
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela all have laws banning certain discrimination.