Position of the petitioners

According to the information provided by the petitioners, Sandra Cecilia Pavez Pavez is a
religion teacher in general basic education and has served in that profession for more than 25 years, meeting
all academic and legal requirements for the position, without having been the subject of reproach by her

The petitioners explained that pursuant to Article 9 of Decree 924 of 1984—governing
religion classes in educational facilities—in order to exercise their profession those who teach religion must
have a certificate of suitability, which is granted by the religious authority corresponding to the faith whose
teachings they impart, which is valid for as long as said authority does not revoke it.

They then indicate that on July 25, 2007, the Vicar of Education of the diocese of San Bernardo,
René Aguilera Colinier, informed the alleged victim in writing that he had decided to revoke her certificate of
suitability, thus disqualifying her for teaching Catholicism in educational facilities of the diocese of San
Bernardo. In that communication, he indicated that his decision had been adopted “following the process
analyzing the situation that [the alleged victim] already [knew about] and that [they had] discussed on various
occasions and considering the Church’s provisions regarding the suitability necessary to teach Catholicism in
educational facilities and current legal standards, as well as the provisions of canon law.” Copies of that
communication had been submitted to the mayor of San Bernardo and the director of that municipality’s
corporation for education and health.

The petitioners also explained that by referring to the “situation that [the alleged victim]
already [knew about] and that [they had] discussed on various occasions,” the vicar was making direct
reference to the fact that the alleged victim is a lesbian and to the series of conversations held with her since
April 2007, in which both that vicar and the bishop of the diocese of San Bernardo had reproached her for her
sexual orientation and for maintaining a stable relationship with someone of the same sex. Thus, they had urged
her to “immediately terminate her homosexual life” [sic], under penalty of no longer being able to exercise her
profession as a religion teacher. The petitioners also indicate that they had imposed on her the additional
condition of submitting to “psychiatric therapy” for the purpose of “reversing her alleged mental disorder” [sic].
As indicated in the petition, the alleged victim did not agree to such conditions, so the vicar proceeded to revoke
her certificate of suitability.

The petitioners indicate that in view of the vicar’s decision, the alleged victim filed an appeal
for protection with the local courts of justice, seeking protection for her rights to equality before the law and a
private life. However, in a decision dated November 27, 2007, the Court of Appeals of San Miguel decided to
dismiss the action filed. In making that decision, the court opined that the applicable legislation empowered
the respective religious body to grant and revoke authorization to teach religion in accordance with its
particular religious, moral, and philosophic principles, with regard to which the State did not have any power
to interfere. Along these same lines, the court opined that that power rests with the religion itself, which has
broad freedom to establish its standards and principles, and the underlying legal standard provides that
someone who teaches a faith in the classroom must conform to those standards, beliefs, and dogmas without
State agencies’ having jurisdiction to intrude or to question those principles.

In response to the dismissal by the Court of Appeals of San Miguel, the alleged victim appealed
to the higher court. On April 17, 2008, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Chile confirmed all portions of the
judgment of the Court of Appeals.

The petitioners allege that the vicar’s decision to revoke the alleged victim’s certificate of
suitability, followed by the national courts’ failure to protect her rights, violated the right to equality before the
law, as established in Article 24 of the American Convention. They allege that said actions lead to the
perpetuation of a situation of constant discrimination and repudiation against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and


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