Chile’s civil union law no longer considers “homosexual conduct” a special category of “fault” in a divorce action. The category was determined to be unnecessary because such conduct with a person outside the union is already subsumed under the category of “infidelity.” One Minister called this amendment “a step forward in the right direction.”
It’s official: Article 54 of Law 19,947 regarding civil unions no longer considers “homosexual conduct” as its own category of “fault” justifying divorce.
The bill to remove the category was backed by Chile’s Congressional Women and Gender Equality Committee. It was also backed by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. Minister Hernán Larraín (UDI) added that this measure was “without a doubt, a step forward in the right direction to build a more inclusive country.”
The bill states that infidelity is already within the valid causes for fault divorce, therefore the extent to which this conduct occurs with someone of the same sex/gender identity is irrelevant.
Article 54 had already been put into discussions in April of this year, when a man sued his wife for fault divorce, because she had a female partner. The case made it to the Constitutional Court after the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (MOVILH) brought attention to the case, claiming that “the infidelity cause is already stated on the law, so it’s unnecessary, and also stigmatizing to talk about ‘homosexual conducts.’ ” The Constitutional Court agreed and declared the category unconstitutional.
“Fault” divorce is considered when one of the parties breaks the legal agreement they made when they got married. When this happens, the affected party can sue the other party in Family Court, under one or more “causes.” Now that “homosexual conduct” has been stricken, the remaing causes are:
- Domestic Violence: if the other party has abused any one of the other family members.
- Prison: if the other party is given a prison sentence for a serious offense.
- Abandonment: if the other party abandons the parties’ home for a prolonged period and for a non-specific reason.
- Drug or alcohol addiction: if the addiction is proven to be uncontrollable.
- Actual or Attempted prostitution of the affected party or children: this is one of the most serious offenses, and also constitutes a crime.
- Infidelity or neglect of home responsibilities: if the other party is unfaithful or fails to uphold the economic and educational responsibilities owed to the children.
Javiera is from Santiago de Chile, she is studying journalism at Universidad de Chile, since 2017 and doing her internship at Chile Today.