Thousands of Chileans joined the funeral procession Friday of a gay man tortured and beaten to death by presumed neo-Nazis amid growing national outrage over the attack.
People crowded the streets around cars that traveled for three hours between Daniel Zamudio's home in San Bernardo south of the capital and the main cemetery in Santiago, waving white handkerchiefs, throwing flowers and clapping.
"There will be time for justice but for now, I am only asking for respect, and I thank all of you for each gesture, each tear shed for my brother," Diego Zamudio said before a private cremation.
His brother Daniel, 24, was beaten on March 3 during a six-hour ordeal. Pictures released by his family show the attackers beat the openly gay man in the head, burned him with cigarettes and carved Nazi symbols and slogans on his body. He died from his injuries Tuesday, 25 days later.
The four suspects who have been arrested in the case are thought to belong to a neo-Nazi group. Aged 19 to 25, the defendants deny allegations of attacking Zamudio and of being neo-Nazis.
Chile is reeling from the attack as the taboo over homosexuality gradually dissipates in the highly Catholic and conservative country.
Last year, President Sebastian Pinera proposed a family bill that would allow civil unions for homosexual couples, but lawmakers have yet to vote on it.
Zamudio's death has, however, renewed calls for more ambitious legislation, including a nondiscrimination law proposed in Congress seven years ago.
The law would penalize anyone who discriminates against other people based on their race, sexual orientation or religious denomination.
Chile's Senate approved the bill in November but it awaits action in the House of Representatives, where right-wing lawmakers have expressed concern it is a first step toward same-sex marriage, which is banned in the proposed legislation.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged Chile to create a law to more easily punish hate crimes based on sexual discrimination.
"What we want is equality before the law, and Daniel is an example of the need and possibility to change things," said Rolando Jimenez, president of Chile's Homosexual Liberation and Integration Movement.
The independent human rights arm of the Organization of American States has urged the government to launch a "serious" investigation into the beating death.© ANP/AFP