Human Rights NATIONAL

LGBTQI+ Rights in Chile, Nine Years After Daniel Zamudio’s Murder

SANTIAGO – A homophobic attack on Mar. 2, 2012 left 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio severely injured and hospitalized. He died of his injuries less than a month later. The cruel assault by alleged neo-Nazis shocked the country. Congress adopted an anti-discrimination law in its wake, but justice has been slow. 

When it comes to LGBTQI+ rights, Chile lags behind its South American neighbors. Homosexuality was not decriminalized until 1999, the country has yet to legalize gay marriage, a gender identity law protecting the rights of transgender people only came into effect in 2019, and Congress did not pass anti-discrimination legislation until after Zamudio was killed in 2012. Human rights NGO Movilh has therefore urged lawmakers to speed up reforms.

According to a study by the organization, only 23.4 percent of the 500 anti-discrimination lawsuits filed before 2020 went to trial, and a majority of cases have been decided against the victim. Movilh’s spokesperson Óscar Rementería commented: “Unfortunately, after Zamudio’s murder, reports of hate crimes against LGBTQI+ people have increased. Complainants have registered 34 new potential hate crimes, but the anti-discrimination law has proven ineffective to deliver justice: it has only been applied on four occasions and there haven’t been reparations of any sort.” 

Also read:

LGBT Groups Push to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage in Chile

On Jan. 27, the Senate approved several proposed amendments to the anti-discrimination law, which include the introduction of compensation for victims, the removal of restrictions to the law’s applicability, and greater scope for a finding of aggravating circumstances. The use of conversion therapy would also be punishable.

Further Attacks in 2021 

In February, 19-year-old Stefanía Breve died in the Biobío region after she and her girlfriend were stabbed by a 16-year-old boy who allegedly disapproved of their relationship.

On Jan. 16, a 48-year-old lesbian woman from Lampa filed a lawsuit against two of her neighbors who physically and verbally attacked her, rendering her unconscious. According to her girlfriend’s account of the events, police called to the scene did not show up and the victim only received help once an ambulance arrived.

A lesbian couple in Puente Alto has reported a similar course of events.

Zamudio’s Legacy

The murder of the 24-year-old shocked the country in March 2012. In unimaginable brutality, his killers carved swastikas on his skin with broken glass, burned him with cigarettes, smashed one of his legs with an 18 lb. rock, and urinated on his body before leaving him unconscious in downtown Santiago.

Movilh has complained that Alejandro Angulo, one of the people convicted of Zamudio’s murder, has received several benefits while in prison, such as being allowed access to a cell phone and video games. Chile’s prison service has not responded, despite Angulo threatening to kill more people once he has served his sentence in Valparaíso.

It remains to be seen whether the ninth anniversary of Zamudio’s death will serve as a catalyst for further legislative change. 

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