Chile’s Javier Silva and Jaime Nazar became the first two men to tie the knot in the South American country’s history on Thursday after a law allowing same-sex marriage went into effect.
In December, Congress approved legislation guaranteeing legal rights for same-sex couples in a milestone for the conservative nation after a decade-long battle by LGBTQ communities and rights groups.
“Being the first couple to get married in Chile for us is an honor, something to be proud of,” Silva told reporters after the civil ceremony. “We did it! It’s something we didn’t think could happen.”
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Silva and Nazar have been together for seven years and have two young children. They have had a civil union for the last three years, but marriage is a significant step forward for their whole family.
“Now our children have the same rights (as other families) and they will be able to have, we hope, a better future, that they will not be discriminated against for having two parents who love each other,” Silva added.
Despite its long conservative tradition, Chile has been making progress in recent years in recognizing LGBTQ rights.
“My congratulations to Jaime and Javier for being the first couple to marry under the new #EqualMarriage law. To continue advancing for a Chile with equal rights and freedoms for all people,” President-elect Gabriel Boric, who takes office on Friday, said on Twitter.
Same-sex marriage legislation was first discussed in 2017 and pushed by former President Michelle Bachelet, but was delayed until last year.
Before that, starting in 2015, same-sex couples were able register a Civil Union Agreement (AUC), which allowed some legal benefits.
“I think we’re putting ourselves at the level the rest of the world is living in, which is great,” Nazar said. “I know our society is very conservative, but I also know we have a promising future as a country.”