Legislation that was recently passed by the Chilean National Congress has many pro-family groups worried about the possible fallout which, they feel, would lead to the unwarranted persecutions of Christians in the country.
The bill was written in an attempt to outlaw "discrimination" against homosexuals and could eventually lead to the recognition of same-sex marriage as well as offer homosexual parents the ability to adopt, according to HazteOir Chile.
The vote on the bill took place on May 9, but the consequences are still being debated today. Written in the legislation is the prohibition of "every distinction, exclusion, or restriction" based on an individual or group "that lacks a reasonable justification, carried out by agents of the government or individuals."
The bill makes specific reference to "any crime motivated by an ideological or discriminatory situation, whether for religion, race, ethnicity, condition, or sexual orientation, can be considered an aggravating factor by the judge at the time of evaluating, for the purposes of sentencing, an attitude that [the convicted] might have had for the purpose of discriminating against or diminishing another."
It is thought that the bill will lead to the persecutions of Christians due to the guidelines put forth in the bill. The bill specifically addresses that any action- whether religious or not- that discriminates could result in legal action being taken.
While the wording of the law is blatant and specific it does not trump the free expression of an individual. The law states that any act of discrimination is illegal insofar as the alleged discrimination does not impede on the free expression of another individual.
Sebastián Pino, sub-coordinator of the legislative commission of the Iguales Foundation explained that freedom of expression as long as it falls within the guidelines set forth by current laws could not be ignored during cases of discrimination.
"If a person feels discriminated against, the person at fault, the discriminator, only has to invoke another fundamental right, like freedom of expression, to avoid punishment," Pino told HazteOir Chile.