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Gay friendly Billionaire Leads Chilean Polls


Sebastian Pinera, a billionaire who courted the LGBT community as a presidential candidate in Chile, appears in the lead as the election heads to a run-off next month.

Pinera won the first round of the election on Sunday, but he failed to receive enough votes to avoid a runoff, now scheduled for January 17 against second-place finisher Eduardo Frei, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"With nearly 60% of polling places reporting, Mr. Pinera had 44.2% of the vote, compared to 30.5% for his closest challenger and likely runoff opponent, Eduardo Frei, of the governing center-left Concertacion coalition. Two other left-of-center candidates divided the remaining votes."

Pinera pledged during the campaign to support civil unions for same-sex couples and to allow gay Chileans to serve in the military.

Both Pinera and Frei made appeals to LGBT residents of the conservative Catholic country. In the first video below, Pinera stands next to a gay couple and promises to fight for their rights. In the second video, a lesbian couple support former president and Christian Democrat candidate Frei.

Pinera and Frei, both in their 60s, faced an enthusiastic presidential challenge from independent center-left candidate Marco Enriquez Ominami, a young politician who last year introduced legislation to legalize civil unions. Ominami, 36, finished third with around 20% of the vote.

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Julie Bolcer