(CNN) — The issue of hate crime legislation has gripped Chilean leaders as one family on Friday prepared to bury their 24-year-old son, who was apparently targeted because of his sexual orientation.
Daniel Zamudio, a gay man, was attacked in a park March 3 and died from his injuries Tuesday.
The Zamudio house was decorated with flowers and white balloons in observance of the young man’s death, which caused outrage throughout the country.
Zamudio’s attackers reportedly beat him for an hour, burned him with cigarettes and carved Nazi symbols on his body.
Four men, believed to belong to a neo-Nazi group and ranging in age from 19 to 26, have been arrested.
After Zamudio died, authorities raised the charges against the men to aggravated murder.
“As a government, we did this in the name of millions of Chileans who, after the murder of Daniel Zamudio, feel that Chile has to change,” regional Gov. Cecilia Perez said.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera addressed the incident this week.
“We want to reiterate today that we have made a commitment. We are not going to tolerate any kind of discrimination against Chilean citizens based on their socioeconomic status, their religion or sexual orientation,” he said.
The incident has put the issue of hate crimes legislation back on the legislative agenda.
A hate crimes bill was introduced seven years ago but has languished as conservative groups blocked its passage.
“At every turn, this law has been cut. At every turn, there have been efforts to trim it. There was even resistance to having discrimination based on sexual orientation including in the (bill). This is something Chile can no longer permit. And now, after the death of Daniel, which has brought this moment of sensibility, it is time to pass the (bill),” said Carolina Toha, president of the liberal Party for Democracy.
Chileans are calling for action, said Rolando Jimenez, president of Movilh, a
This article originally appeared on: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/30/world/americas/chile-hate-crime-death/