Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has signed a bill to allow same-sex marriage and adoption.

The bill must now be debated in congress, a process that is likely to take some time and continue into the next presidential term, BBC News has reported.

The bill will change the existing law defining marriage as between a man and a woman to a union between two people.

“It cannot be that old prejudices are stronger than love,” said Bachelet.

“It’s neither ethical nor just to impose artificial limits on love.”

While Chile is a conservative country, Bachelet has backed a number of liberal reforms during her presidency.

Sebastián Piñera, who is expected to win this year’s presidential election, has said that he opposes the bill.

“There should not be discrimination, but at the same time the essence of an institution such as marriage should be respected, which has always been about conserving the human race,” he said.

Latin American countries which already have marriage equality include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and parts of Mexico.

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