President Sebastián Piñera of Chile signed an anti-discrimination bill into law on Thursday after the brutal murder of a gay man who was beaten to death and had swastikas carved into his body.
The bill was based heavily on the slaying of Chile citizen Daniel Zamudio in March, who was found dead and mutilated in a city park. The story sparked outraged both in the South American nation and among U.N. human rights committees who called for tougher hate crime laws to prevent such targeting in the future.
"Without a doubt, Daniel's death was painful but it was not in vain," Piñera said at a press conference, which was also attended by Zamudio's parents. "His passing not only unified wills to finally approve this anti-discrimination law but it also helped us examine our conscience and ask ourselves: have we ever discriminated someone? ... After his death we'll think twice, thrice or four times before we fall prey to that behavior."
The anti-discrimination law was initially struck down seven years ago, but the murder incident sparked Chile's government to push for it again in May, when it was approved.
"This law is a giant leap toward creating tools that can prevent and punish discrimination," expressed Gay Liberation and Integration Movement President Rolando Jimenez. "There's still a lot to be done and we need the institutions to enforce it."
Four suspects were jailed over Zamudio's murder, some who had previous criminal records for attacks on homosexuals, The Associated Press revealed.
The 24-year-old man was beaten for an hour, burned with cigarettes and had swastikas carved into his skin by a group of Neo-Nazis, Reuters revealed.
Some Protestant churches in the country, however, have voiced opposition to the anti-discrimination law, citing fears that it might be the first step toward legalizing gay marriage in the country. The AP shared that the Roman Catholic Church has also expressed fears over the law, although there has not been an official statement by the Vatican.
While homosexuality is technically legal in Chile, same-sex couples currently do not have the right to marry, and do not receive the same benefits as lawfully married heterosexual couples.