/ Updated  / Source: Reuters

SANTIAGO - Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday sent Congress a bill that would legalize gay marriage, a move that follows a string of liberal reforms in one of Latin America’s most conservative nations.

Image: FILE PHOTO: A couple take part in the gay pride to demand a new law of gender equality after President Michelle Bachelet sets marriage equality as government priority,  Santiago
FILE PHOTO: A couple takes part in a gay pride march after President Michelle Bachelet sets marriage equality as government priority. Santiago, Chile, July 1, 2017.Rodrigo Garrido / Reuters

In 2015, Chile’s Congress approved same-sex civil unions after years of legislative wrangling. In March, Bachelet, a center-left politician, pledged to send a full marriage bill to legislators before the end of the year.

“We do this with the certainty that it is not ethical nor fair to put artificial limits on love, nor to deny essential rights just because of the sex of those who make up a couple,” Bachelet said in Chile’s La Moneda presidential palace.

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Just last week, a Chilean court gave the green light to a law passed in July that will allow abortion in limited cases. Before that, Chile was one of only a handful of countries in the world that outlawed terminating a pregnancy in any situation, including when a woman’s life was in danger.

Bachelet’s push for marriage equality also comes as countries across the region are expanding gay rights. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in recent years in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico, despite the powerful influence of the Catholic Church, which opposes such unions.

Image: Chile's President Michelle Bachelet gives a speech to the media during a news conference  at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet gives a speech at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on August 23, 2017.Jorge Cabrera / Reuters

It was not immediately clear if Bachelet will be able to push the gay marriage bill through Congress before she leaves office in March 2018.

Though her Nueva Mayoria coalition has a congressional majority, it is severely fractured ahead of elections in November and several members of the coalition hold socially conservative views.

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