Chile’s congress passes ‘historic’ gender identity law

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — After a five-year battle, Chile’s congress passed a gender identity law Wednesday that allows transgender people over 14 years of age to change their name and gender in official records.

Activists called the with 95-46 vote in favor of the law “historic,” with Chile’s Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation saying it “will change the quality of life of thousands of people.”

The law makes it possible to modify information registered in birth certificates through a simple process done at the civil registry. Those between the ages of 14 and 18 will need permission from a parent or guardian, along with consent granted by a family court.

The bill had been approved by the senate last week. President Sebastian Pinera has 30 days to sign the project into law.

After the vote, conservative lawmakers Sergio Bobadilla and Juan Antonio Coloma said they intend to go to the Constitutional Court to argue the project “undermines the right of the biological identity of minors.”

Chile’s Constitutional Court is, in practice, a type of third legislative chamber because it can modify laws already approved by the congress and the senate. Both the ruling party and the opposition file appeals to the court when they do not agree with a law.

While LGBTQ activists applauded the bill, they regretted that it did not include those under 14 years of age.

“Today is bittersweet since the discrimination against those under 14 will translate into more suicides,” said Rolando Jimenez, one of the founders of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation.