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UN calls for harsher hate crime laws in Chile

Chilean anti-discrimination laws should cover sexual orientation, says UN after killing of gay man Daniel Zamudio
UN calls for Chilean government to pass tougher hate crime laws following killing of Daniel Zamudio

The UN is urging Chile to pass tougher hate crime laws after the death of a young gay man attacked by neo-Nazis.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called for the South American country to introduce new anti-discrimination laws, following the 'abhorrent murder' of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio.

The clothing store salesman was viciously beaten and had swastikas carved into his chest in Chile’s capital city, Santiago, on 3 March and was pronounced dead on Tuesday (27 March) evening after fighting for his life in a coma for more than three weeks.

Colville told reporters in Geneva today (30 March) that Chilean lawmakers should make violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity 'an aggravating factor' in prosecutions.

Four men have been arrested and jailed on attempted murder charges, some of whom already have criminal records for attacks on gays.

However, prosecutor Ernesto Vazquez is calling for the charges to be upped to premeditated murder, carrying maximum life sentences if convicted.

He said the attack was clearly motivated by homophobia.

New anti-discrimination legislation is currently being considered by the Chilean congress.

Discussion on the anti-discrimination law started in congress in 2005 and was passed in November, 2011. The law included measures against discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

However, on 4 January, the Constitutional Tribunal, headed by a group of senators from Chile’s conservative Independent Democratic Union, put forward an amendment revoking Article 2 of the law, which applies to sexual diversity.

Pressure has now been mounting for the government to reinstate the full law.

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