Recent death of gay man highlights need for anti-discrimination law in Chile - UN

world | Mar 31, 2012 | By UN News

An activist waves a rainbow flag, an international symbol for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Photo: Flickr/See-ming Lee

The United Nations human rights office today urged the Government of Chile to pass a law against discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, following the recent killing of a young gay man in the capital, Santiago.

"We also urge Chile to enact hate crime legislation that establishes hatred based on various grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity, as an aggravating factor for the purposes of criminal prosecution," said a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville.

Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, Mr. Colville said that the killing of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio is just the latest reminder of the gravity and prevalence of homophobic violence that exists in all regions.

"The case should be seen in the wide context of hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person around the world," he said. "This time it happened in Santiago, Chile, but it happens every day on the streets of towns and cities all over the world."

Mr. Zamudio died on Tuesday, 25 days after being viciously assaulted by a group of alleged neo-Nazis in a Santiago park, according to OHCHR.

"He was reportedly tortured for an hour by his attackers, who stubbed cigarettes out on him, carved swastikas into his body, and mutilated him in other ways," said Mr. Colville. "We deplore the violent criminal act that took the life of this young man and urge the Chilean Congress to pass a law against discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, in full compliance with relevant international human rights standards."

In addition to sparking a public outcry in Chile, the attack has also provoked a debate about homophobia and hate crimes, as well as calls for the country"s Parliament to pass an anti-discrimination law which was initially presented in 2005 and is currently before lawmakers, awaiting approval by the lower house.



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