Family (pictured) and friends of Daniel Zamudio gathered Saturday evening alongside LGBT activists and the public to remember the now-famous gay youth’s life and legacy. The candlelight vigil marked the one-year anniversary of Zamudio’s fatal attack when four assailants beat the gay teen for his sexual orientation on March 3, 2012, eventually causing his death later that month.
Clutching rainbow flags, candles and images of Zamudio, the group of about 300 mourners walked together to Parque San Borja, the Santiago park where the hate crime occurred. At the memorial the LGBT rights organization, Movilh, announced plans to build a 538-square-foot tomb in Zamudio’s honor at the General Cemetery of Santiago.
After Zamudio’s death in 2012, the murder became a catalyst for the LGBT movement in Chile, sparking the swift passage of anti-discrimination legislation. The July after Zamudio’s death, the government signed its first anti-discrimination law. Nicknamed the “Zamudio Law,” it increased the legal punishments for violence committed for reasons of prejudice, including anti-gay violence.
“Daniel left us a legacy that isn’t just the law that bears his name,” said an official statement from Movilh. “Daniel left us a legacy so that no one will ever see their rights violated for being different from the majority, and it is the responsibility of all of us to contribute to fulfill this basic principle.”
Two days before the ceremony an unrelated anti-gay hate crime occurred in Santiago. Early Thursday morning, two Chilean police officers verbally and physically harassed two gay youth. The case has already been brought to the local courts in Nuñoa where Police Coronel Ricardo Yáñez said they are looking to use the Zamudio Law to try the police.
Between 2002 and 2012, 20 people were killed in Chile for either their sexual orientation or identity, with 965 total cases of sexual orientation and identity discrimination, according to statistics from Movilh.
Although the Zamudio Law has been viewed as a step forward in LGBT equality, other activist groups have stressed the need for further legislation. Recognition of domestic partnerships, legal protection of gender identity and improved education of gender and sexual identity have all been cited as necessary changes to rid Chile of LGBT discrimination.