BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – It was bogged down in Congress for seven years, but Chile finally signed off on hate-crime legislation July 12 in the wake of the murder of a 24-year-old gay man's murder in March.
Daniel Zamudio was attacked in a Santiago park and died 20 days later in hospital, according to a Reuters report, which said that a group of alleged neo-Nazis reportedly beat him for an hour, burned him with cigarettes and carved swastikas into his skin. A Montreal Gazette report says four suspects, some with criminal records for attacks on gays, are now in jail in connection with Zamudio's death.
Originally introduced by former president Ricardo Lagos, the anti-discrimination legislation was signed into law by current Conservative President Sebastián Piñera, who has faced heavy criticism about his handling of social issues since he assumed office in 2010, the report says.
People refer to the new legislation as the Zamudio law, which allows people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits and makes provision for hate-crime sentences for violent crimes.
At a press conference attended by Zamudio's parents, Pinera said, "Daniel's death was painful, but it was not in vain.
"His passing not only unified wills to finally approve this anti-discrimination law, but it also helped us examine our conscience and ask ourselves: have we ever discriminated [against] someone?" Pinera said. "After his death, we'll think twice, thrice or four times before we fall prey to that behaviour."
Jaime Parada, of the country's leading sexual minority organization, told Gay Star News that they had been pushing for such legislation for 10 years."Our reality as a culture is that we are conservative," Parada said. "Our responsibility is to design projects because the political world in Chile doesn't care about these things."
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