Chile’s center-right President Sebastián Piera signed a measure allowing same-sex marriage into law on Thursday, only days after Congress approved it in a historic vote.
The law “equalizes all love connections between two individuals,” Piera stated during a ceremony attended by LGBT activists, civil society groups, politicians, and officials at the La Moneda government palace.
After a decade-long court struggle and with the country precariously positioned ahead of a pivotal election this month, lawmakers enacted the bill on Tuesday, marking a watershed moment for the conservative South American nation.
“All couples who so wish, regardless of their sexual orientation, will be able to live love, marry and form a family with all the dignity and legal protection they need and deserve,” Piñera said.
Chile has long had a conservative reputation even among its strongly Roman Catholic peers in Latin America. Still, most Chileans now support same-sex marriage and have shown signs of becoming more liberal on social and cultural issues in recent years.
Civil unions have been permitted in Chile since 2015, which affords same-sex partners many but not all the benefits of married couples, like the right to adoption.