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Briefing note on Chile

 30 March 2012

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Subject: Chile

In Chile, a 24 year-old gay man, Daniel Zamudio, died on Tuesday 27 March, 25 days after being viciously assaulted by a group of alleged neo-Nazis in a Santiago park. 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.

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.

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.

The incident has sparked a public outcry in Chile, with hundreds joining vigils outside the hospital where Mr Zamudio was taken after the attack. It has also provoked a debate about homophobia and hate crimes and calls for Parliament to pass an anti-discrimination law, which is currently before the Chilean Parliament, awaiting approval by the lower House. The bill was initially presented in Parliament in 2005 and has undergone much debate and reformulation.

The case should be seen in the wider context of hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world. OHCHR’s report* on this issue, which was submitted to the Human Rights Council earlier this month, found evidence of “startlingly high levels” of homophobic violence in all regions. Examples cited in the report include physical assaults, torture, sexual violence and killings.

The killing of Daniel Zamudio is just the latest reminder of the gravity and prevalence of homophobic violence, which, as the recent OHCHR report found, exists in all regions.

This time it happened in Santiago, Chile, but it happens every day on the streets of towns and cities all over the world.

*The High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report to the Human Rights Council A/HRC/19/41, entitled “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity” can be found at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/19session/a.hrc.19.41_english.pdf

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or press officers Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) and Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org).

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