Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:55 GMT

Chile: Treatment of homosexuals; state protection available to them; availability of resources (June 2005 - July 2009)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 7 August 2009
Citation / Document Symbol CHL103221.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Chile: Treatment of homosexuals; state protection available to them; availability of resources (June 2005 - July 2009), 7 August 2009, CHL103221.FE, available at: [accessed 13 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Homosexuality became legal in Chile in 1998 (Quebec Nov. 2008, 11), and sodomy was decriminalized in 1999, following an amendment to article 365 of the Penal Code (Código Penal) (MOVILH n.d.; MUmS July 2009). A report published in 2008 by the Quebec Department of Immigration and Cultural Communities (ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles du Québec) states as follows:


Despite the major social changes and legislative reforms in the last few years, homophobia is still very present in Chilean society, particularly in conservative and religious circles and in the armed forces (Quebec Nov. 2008, 11; see also Global Rights / International Human Rights Clinic 12 Mar. 2007, 15).

In 2007, the Catholic Church found itself leading the main [translation] "organizations responsible for the discrimination against sexual minorities," according to the sixth annual report of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual, MOVILH) on the rights of sexual minorities in Chile (Derechos Humanos de las Minorías Chilenas) (MOVILH Feb. 2008, 82). In 2008, a bishop reportedly urged Chileans not to vote for electoral candidates in the city of San Bernardo, in the Santiago Metropolitan Region, who were advocating for the rights of gay couples (The Santiago Times 13 Oct. 2008). However, in 2009, a Catholic priest from Chillán (a town situated 400 km from Santiago) reportedly supported a MOVILH initiative to publish an educational manual on sexual diversity (Manual Educativo de la Diversidad Sexual) (MOVILH 14 July 2009).

According to Chilean sexual diversity activists who met in Mexico City, [translation] "homophobia 'is always met with impunity,' and the situation [of homosexuals] in Chile is far from the international standards that guarantee LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] equality and rights" (Anodis 5 Jan. 2009).

In 2008, 137 students, parents and teachers at high schools in the Santiago Metropolitan Region were suveyed as part of a study on the knowledge and beliefs about homosexuality and transexuality (The Patagonia Times 23 Sept. 2008; see also MOVILH Feb. 2009, 15). The results indicate that homosexuality and transexuality are not subjects that are frequently discussed in sex education classes (ibid.). Nevertheless, most of the students and teachers surveyed supported same-sex marriage, but they were reluctant to give same-sex couples the right to adopt children (The Patagonia Times 23 Sept. 2008). When asked about the results of the study, the MOVILH director stated that "sexual-minorities advocates have been successful in spreading acceptance of LGBT rights among common citizens," but he added that "it is the 'political class' that needs to catch up" (ibid.).

According to MOVILH's seventh annual report, records show that, for a second consecutive year, there was a significant increase (14 percent) in reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity (MOVILH Feb. 2009, 8). In fact, 65 cases of discrimination were reported in 2008, 57 in 2007 (ibid., 8) and 49 in 2006 (MOVILH Feb. 2008, 30). However, a 12 March 2007 report published by Global Rights and the International Human Rights Clinic indicates that most cases of discrimination in the workplace are not reported, for fear of social stigma and limited access to recourse (Global Rights / International Human Rights Clinic 12 Mar. 2007, 5). The same source also reports that the courts "are not impartial with respect to LGBT [and intersex] persons" (ibid., 11).

Two newspaper articles noted that discrimination based on sexual orientation has led to the dismissal of several people, including a religious studies teacher (The Valparaíso Times 9 Jan. 2009) and an investigations officer (The Santiago Times 8 May 2009). MOVILH estimates that a total of 22 people were dismissed between 2002 and May 2008, 15 of whom lost their jobs between 2005 and May 2008 (16 May 2008). Data from 2007 indicates that four homicides motivated by the victims' sexual orientation and identity were committed, while no cases of physical violence against LGBTs were reported in 2008 (MOVILH Feb. 2009, 5).


MOVILH's seventh annual report indicates that [translation] "35 positive points and 2 negative points regarding the situation of LGBTs were noted in 2008" (Feb. 2009, 10). Among the positive points listed is an information booklet (cartilla) called "The Police" (Carabineros) distributed by the national police, identified as one of the most discriminatory organizations in the country (ibid.). The purpose of the booklet is to prevent discrimination and combat homophobia and transphobia within its ranks (ibid.).

Regarding the other positive points from 2008, the report notes Chile's support of three declarations in favour of LGBT rights, of an offer of free healthcare for transsexuals, and of bills introduced in the National Congress (Congreso Nacional) regarding marriage and gender identity (MOVILH Feb. 2009, 10). According to an OpusGay article, the same-sex marriage bill (Ley de matrimonio homosexual) aims to amend article 102 of the Civil Code (Código Civil) to define marriage as a contract between two people rather than between a man and a woman only (OpusGay 7 Mar. 2008). It also aims to retract the word "procreate" from the definition of marriage (ibid.). With regard to the bill on gender identity (Ley de identidad de género), it aims to add a new article, composed of four clauses, to law no. 4.808 of the Civil Registry (Registro civil e Identificación) that would facilitate the steps required to change an individual's name or gender (OpusGay 29 Jan. 2008).

President Bachelet's campaign promise to legalize same-sex unions has still not been fulfilled (EFE 31 Jan. 2007; El ParaDiario 14 2 June 2009).

The negative points noted include the refusal of the Supreme Court (Corte Suprema de Justicia) to grant protection to a young transsexual (MOVILH Feb. 2009, 11; AGmagazine 22 Jan. 2009) and the appearance of the National Service for Minors (Servicio Nacional de Menores, SENAME) on a list of Chile's most homophobic organizations (MOVILH Feb. 2009, 11). SENAME is a government organization that contributes mainly to [translation] "the development of the system of social protection for children and adolescents by reinserting vulnerable children or adolescents into society and/or the family ..." (Chile 2 Mar. 2009).

Information on state protection available to LGBTs could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Actitud Gay Magazine (AGmagazine). 22 January 2009. "Suprema transfobia: la Corte de Chile rechazó el pedido de amparo de una joven transexual." [Accessed 27 July 2009]

Agencia de Noticias sobre Diversidad Sexual (Anodis). 5 January 2009. "Homofobia en Chile "permanece en la impunidad", denuncian gays." [Accessed 27 July 2009]

Chile. 2 March 2009. Servicio Nacional de Menores (SENAME). "Misión y Objetivos." [Accessed 4 Aug. 2009]

EFE. 31 January 2007. Laura Hierro Gisbert. "Chile's Gays Expect Recognition for Civil Unions." (NotiEmail) [Accessed 5 Aug. 2009]

Global Rights / International Human Rights Clinic (University of Virginia). 12 March 2007. Violations of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Persons in Chile. [Accessed 24 July 2009]

Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (MOVILH). 14 July 2009. "Inédito: sacerdote católico da total respaldo a Manual Educativo de la Diversidad Sexual." [Accessed 21 July 2009]
_____. February 2009. VII Informe Anual: Derechos Humanos de las Minorías Sexuales Chilenas (Hechos 2008). [Accessed 21 July 2009]
_____. 16 May 2008. "Movilh repudia y denuncia tres nuevos casos de homofobia laboral." [Accessed 21 July 2009]
_____. February 2008. VI Informe Anual: Derechos Humanos Minorías Sexuales Chilenas (Hechos 2007). [Accessed 27 July 2009]
_____. N.d. "Logros históricos y acciones pioneras del MOVILH." [Accessed 6 Aug. 2009]

Movimiento Unificado de Minorías Sexuales (MUmS). July 2009. Víctor Hugo Robles. "Se cumplen 10 años de la despenalización de la sodomía en Chile." [Accessed 5 Aug. 2009]

OpusGay. 7 March 2008. Andrea Guzmán. "Hito: Con apoyo de parlamentarios de concertación presentaron Ley de matrimonio homosexual en Chile." [Accessed 4 Aug. 2009]
_____. 29 January 2008. Catalina Herrera. "Gran Avance: Ley de identidad de género fue ingresada al Congreso nacional." [Accessed 4 Aug. 2009]

El ParaDiario 14. 2 June 2009. "Presidente del MOVILH: "Michelle Bachelet ha sido cobarde políticamente"." [Accessed 4 Aug. 2009]

The Patagonia Times [Santiago]. 23 September 2008. Leigh Shadko. "Study: Sexual Minorities Face Discrimination in Chile Schools." [Accessed 21 July 2009]

Quebec. November 2008. Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles. Réalités juridiques et sociales de l'homosexualité et de la transsexualité dans les principaux pays d'origine des nouveaux arrivants au Québec.> [Accessed 23 July 2009]

The Santiago Times [Santiago]. 8 May 2009. Abigail Wilkinson. "Gay Police Officer Appeals his Dismissal." [Accessed 21 July 2009]
_____. 13 October 2008. "Chile Gay Rights Group Criticizes Catholic Bishop and Evangelical Group." [Accessed 21 July 2009]

The Valparaíso Times [Valparaíso]. 9 January 2009. Thomás Rothe. "Fired Lesbian Teacher Seeks International Support." [Accessed 21 July 2009]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International Chile (AI), Chile – Código civil, Chile – Código penal, Chile – Constitución Política de 1989, Corporación de Promoción y Defensa de la Derechos del Pueblo (CODEPU), Fundación Triángulo, Gay Journey, Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), United States (US) Department of State.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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