Chilean congress passed a hate-crimes law Wednesday night, an act of legislation pending since 2005.
The law passed with a vote 25-3, and allows people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits for crimes committed against them based on their sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or nationality. The measure will also seek to give harsher penalties to those who violate the new law.
'This is the beginning of the end for those who discriminate against sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin and race,' Gay Liberation and Integration Movement President Rolando Jimenez told the Associated Press. 'Starting today, Chile is a better place to live'.
President Sebastian Pinera fast-tracked the law after a 24-year-old gay Chilean Daniel Zamudio was brutally beaten for being gay by a group of self-identified neo-Nazis.
Zamudio was found on 2 March, mutilated and unconscious in a park with swastikas carved into his body. He died from injuries 25 days later in a hospital.
Four suspects, some of who have a criminal record for crimes against gays, have been arrested on attempted murder charges.
'This will permit Chile to advance toward the necessary cultural change to eradicate discrimination in the country, as well as comply with obligations to international human rights,' Amnesty International Chile said in a statement.