Senators in Chile passed a long-awaited bill Wednesday authorising same-sex marriage in what gay campaigners hope will be the penultimate step to its final approval.
Chile, which legalised gay civil unions in 2015, has been waiting on this bill since 2017, when it was sent to Congress by then-president Michelle Bachelet.
In a surprise move, her conservative successor Sebastián Piñera announced last year he would seek the bill's urgent passage through Congress, and on Wednesday, the Senate approved the bill by 28 votes to 13.
It will now be sent to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, for the final approval.
"We want to move towards a country with other values, which advances in justice and in eradicating all forms of discrimination," said senate speaker Yasna Provoste, a Christian Democrat who voted in favor of the bill.
But Manuel José Ossandón, of Piñera's conservative National Renovation party, argued that "marriage is in its essence a union between a man and a woman with the possibility of procreation, while same-sex relations fall into a different category as they do not have this option to procreate."
The bill stipulates that Chile's marriage law, applicable only to heterosexual unions, should be expanded to extend the same rights, including adoption, to same-sex couples.
According to 2020 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), gay marriage is legal in six Latin American and Caribbean UN member countries, as well as several states of Mexico.