Chilean hate crime victim Daniel Zamudio

Two South American countries have made progressive moves to protect their LGBTI communities with the passing of new bills.

Argentina’s parliament passed new legislation on Wednesday that will allow transgender people to legally change their gender without having to undergo medical procedures.

The bill will also give transgender people access to medical services such as hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery through their private or public health care plans without being charged extra.

The bill is expected to be signed by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who has backed the legislation.

In July 2010, Argentina became the first South American country to legalise same-sex marriage.

Also on Wednesday, the legislature in Chile approved a hate-crimes bill that will punish offenders more harshly in cases in which victims are targeted because of their sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or nationality.

Victims will also be able to file anti-discrimination lawsuits on this basis.

The bill, which has been on the backburner since 2005, was given added impetus by Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera following the recent murder of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio who was viciously assaulted by neo-Nazis in March for being gay.

“This will permit Chile to advance toward the necessary cultural change to eradicate discrimination in the country, as well as to comply with obligations to international human rights,” said Amnesty International Chile in a statement.

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