World

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet signs same-sex civil union law

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has signed a law that recognizes civil unions between same-sex couples.

The law signed Monday takes effect in six months, giving same-sex and unmarried couples many of the rights granted to married couples. Among the changes, it will allow civil union partners to inherit each other's property, join a partner's health plan and receive pension benefits.

Civil unions have been recognized in several countries across South America, but conservative Chile has been slower to change. It decriminalized gay sex in 1999 and the killing of a gay man in 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.

Argentina and Uruguay are the only South American nations to allow full marriage by gays.