A Chilean LGBT rights activist late last month became the first openly gay political candidate elected in the South American country.
Jaime Parada Hoyl, spokesperson for the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, on Oct. 28 won a seat on the municipal council in Providencia, a wealthy enclave of Santiago, the country’s capital. The area is one of the South American country’s wealthiest and most conservative areas.
Josefa Errázuriz, who backed Parada and appeared in one of his campaign ads, defeated long-time Providencia Mayor Cristián Labbé, a retired colonel who was security agent for the secret police that operated during the first four years of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship that began in 1973.
“Labbé symbolizes what we don’t want for Providencia: Entitled, exclusion and a dark past in the dictatorship’s intelligence services,” says the spot. “That is why we honor him with this ‘tribute.’”
Parada further described Labbé as a “recalcitrant fascist” during an interview with the Washington Blade on Nov. 19.
“We did not just present ourselves as gay in the election,” he said when asked about his historic election. “We put forth a platform that had a lot to do with a political agenda, and that is why our campaign had an impact. It had a lot to do with sexual diversity and discrimination in general. It was not something we would have been able to imagine with the setbacks of a few years ago. And with this opportunity we can communicate the contrary.”
Parada became a prominent figure in Chile’s growing LGBT rights movement earlier this year after a group of self-described neo-Nazis allegedly beat Daniel Zamudio to death in a Santiago park because he was gay.
Thousands of Santiaguïnos marched in the streets nearly every day to show their solidarity with Zamudio in the days and weeks after the brutal March 3 attack that left him in a coma. Parada told the Blade in September while he and eight other LGBT Latin American activists were in the United States on a State Department-organized trip that Zamurio’s death underscored persistent anti-LGBT discrimination and violence in the country.
President Sebastián Piñera in July signed a hate crimes and anti-discrimination bill with sexual orientation and gender identity and expression that had languished for seven years. Chilean lawmakers passed the measure in April following Zamudio’s death.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in March ruled in favor of lesbian Judge Karen Atala who lost custody of her three daughters because of her sexual orientation. Piñera in Aug. 2011 proposed a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, but he has yet to formally introduce it.
Same-sex couples in neighboring Argentina can legally marry.
Voters in Lampa outside Santiago re-elected transgender Councilwoman Alejandra González. Trans activist Zuliana Araya also won a seat on the Municipal Council in the coastal city of Valparaíso.
“Chile has made progress, but I tell you nothing is unique and nothing is the most important,” said Parada, who described the election results as a “small event in the chain” of events that have brought more visibility to LGBT Chileans and the country’s growing LGBT rights movement. “Everything is adding up.”