Chile approves civil unions for gay couples

The Chilean Senate has passed a Civil Union Agreement which will enable same-sex partners, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples, to enter into a civil partnership.

"The civil union is a fundamental institution for those couples who live together without being married. It is a judicial tool that does not discriminate, and applies to all types of couples. Most importantly, it allows us to recognise different family types and protect them all," Government Secretary Alvaro Elizalde said.

The bill was approved with 25 votes for, 6 against and 3 abstentions.

President Michelle Bachelet will now sign the bill into law.

Chile is one of the richest countries in Latin America, and, although heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, has seen profound cultural changes including recognition of LGBT people.