SANTIAGO – Chile’s capital city witnessed scuffle between two groups following the arrival of a busload of people protesting a government move to protect the rights of transgender children in schools.
Demonstrators aboard what they call the “Freedom Bus” were met by counter-protesting gay rights activists after they drove past the presidential palace in Santiago on Monday.
Both sides exchanged blows and police responded with water cannon to disperse the crowds before detaining a few people.
The bus demonstration was organized by conservative opponents of a gender identity law that is being debated by Chile’s Congress.
LGBTI rights in Chile
Chile in 2015 formally ended its opposition to same-sex marriage.
Bachelet’s government last June said it would introduce a bill by the end of this month that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. This pledge was part of an agreement it reached with the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in its marriage lawsuit.
Her government in January formally began to promote a debate around same-sex marriage.
Former Chilean president Sebastián Piñera, who is running to succeed Bachelet, has said marriage should remain between a man and a woman. Senator Jacqueline van Rysselberghe of the conservative Independent Democratic Union party is among the most vocal opponents of nuptials for gays and lesbians in the country.
Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia are among the countries in the Americas in which same-sex couples can legally marry.