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Chile remembers gay youth’s murder and its legacy

Chile remembers gay youth’s murder and its legacy

LGBT rights advocates gathered along with family and friends of murdered Chilean gay teen, Daniel Zamudio, for a candlelight vigil to mark a one year anniversary of his death.

Zamudio was fatally attacked when four assailants beat the teen for being gay on 3 March 2012, eventually causing his death later that month.

A group of around 300 participants, including Chile’s two main LGBT groups, Movilh and Iguales, gathered on Saturday (3 March) with rainbow flags, candles and photos of Zamudio in Parque San Borja, Santiago, the scene of the hate crime.

At the memorial the Movilh announced plans to build a 538-square-foot tomb in Zamudio’s honor at the general Cemetery of Santiago, capital of Chile.

Zamudio’s death propelled the LGBT movement in Chile, to press a swift passage of anti-discrimination legislation (July 2012), that has been stalled for years by lawmakers.

The bill was nicknamed the ‘Zamudio Law’, enacts punishment for discrimination against LGBT people as well as for anti-gay violence.

An official statement by Movilh said: ‘Daniel left us a legacy that isn’t just the law that bears his name… so that no one will ever see their rights violated for being different from the majority, and it is the responsibility of all of us to contribute to fulfil this basic principle’.

Two days prior to the ceremony two Chilean police officers verbally and physically harassed two gay youth, in Santiago.

The case is already in the local courts, and authorities signalled their intention to use the Zamudio Law to try the police officers.

According to Movilh, between 2002 and 2012, 20 people were killed in Chile for either their sexual orientation or gender identity, with a total of 965 cases of discrimination.

While the Zamuido Law has been hailed as a step forward in LGBT equality in Chile, activists stress that further legislation is needed including educational work.

Chile has yet to pass a bill on civil partnerships, and protection to transgender people need legislation.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Jon Benjamin, the British Ambassador to Chile and a long standing supporter of LGBT rights said: ‘Although I was unable to attend the vigil, I have been following developments closely as the trial of the four assailants is coming up.

‘Out of a terrible crime, progress has been made, by Chile passing the anti-discrimination law that has been stalled for over seven years, and could have continued so for much longer.

‘The law has enabled several cases against discrimination to be challenged in court, including a lesbian couple who were refused a stay in a motel, as well as several other cases.

‘The Zamudio case propelled Chile in a positive direction towards LGBT equality, although progress has been slow.

‘The local LGBT movement is doing a fine job, and I show my support by regularly speaking for LGBT rights in Chile and attending Santiago’s Pride where last year I read a letter of support on behalf of the European Union.

‘The British embassy in Chile, uniquely flew the rainbow last year during IDAHO in support of the LGBT movement’.