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Chile passes hate-crime bill after gay man was brutally killed by alleged neo-Nazis

SANTIAGO, Chile — The gruesome murder of a young gay man at the hands of alleged neo-Nazis, which outraged Chileans, has spurred passage of a hate-crime law in Chile.

Wednesday night, the nation's congress voted 25-3 to approve the hate-crimes bill.

Gay-rights activists and their allies waved the national flag after the bill was approved.

In March, Daniel Zamudio was found in a park where he had been repeatedly beaten and tortured. His attackers carved Nazi swastikas all over his body, among other mutilations.

The shocking murder stunned Chile, which has historical ties to Germany through immigration. After World War II, a number of Nazis fled trials in Europe and quietly settled in South America, including Chile, where residents are very sensitive to any neo-Nazi hate groups.

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera pushed for the hate-crimes measure, which some are calling the Zamudio bill. Congress is also scheduled to debate the president's proposed civil-unions law for same-sex couples.

"It's an enormous culture change for our country," Sen. Alberto Espina, who is aligned with the center-right ruling coalition, told The Associated Press.

"Chile is a country that discriminates against Mapuche (Indians), homosexuals, that discriminates against people for their nationality and for having disabilities," he added. "We have to assume this as a reality instead of hiding it under the rug."

Rolando Jimenez, president of Gay Liberation and Integration Movement, told AP that the changes are historic.

"This is the beginning of the end for those who discriminate against sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin and race," Jimenez said. "Today citizens have a judicial tool to defend themselves against discrimination. That is very good news. Starting today, Chile is a better place to live."