Chilean newspaper La Tercerareported today that the nation's government is considering legislation that would legally recognize same-sex civil unions.
According to the Santiago-based paper, the bill -- which could be presented to Congress as early as next week -- would "grant legal rights to gay couples who have lived together for more than one year."
Despite the heated debate the issue has caused in the predominantly Catholic country, last month Chilean president Sebastian Pinera was quoted by the newspaper El Mercurio as saying he wanted to safeguard "the dignity of those couples, whether of the opposite or even the same sex."
If the legislation passes, Chile will be the fifth South American country to legalize same-sex civil unions, joining Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay. Argentina offers marriage rights to gay couples.