“Yes, I am gay and I am proud to belong to this group of people who are so valuable to Perú,” said Congressman Carlos Bruce during an interview the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio published on Sunday.
Bruce — a member of the centrist Possible Perú Alliance who represents Lima, the Peruvian capital — told the newspaper his two sons support his decision to come out. The congressman also reiterated his criticisms of Lima Archbishop Juan Luís Cipriani who opposes the civil unions bill.
“He does not respond with ideas, only with personal attacks,” Bruce told El Comercio. “I am sure that he is homophobic. He should be more tolerant. There are leaders from the evangelical church who support the bill.”
Bruce’s announcement comes as lawmakers in the South American country continue to debate his measure. It also coincides with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia that LGBT advocates in Perú and dozens of other countries commemorated.
“Today Carlos became our country’s first openly gay congressman,” Giovanny Romero Infante, executive director of the Lima Homosexual Movement, a Peruvian LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade. “He is an inspiration to millions of LTGB young people that are no longer afraid. He is our brave representative.”
Clauco Velásquez Wong of the Homosexual Community of Hope for the Loreto Region in the Peruvian city of Iquitos also applauded Bruce.
“Today is a historic day for the LGTBI community that waited with baited breath for this to happen,” he told the Blade.
Bruce joins a handful of other openly LGBT politicians in Latin America who are either in their countries’ national legislatures or have been members of them.
Clodovil Hernandes represented the state of São Paulo in the Brazilian Congress from 2006 until his death in 2009. Congressman Jean Wyllys has represented the state of Rio de Janeiro since 2010.
Angélica Lozano, a former Bogotá City Councilwoman, in March became the first out person elected to the Colombian Congress.
Carmen Muñoz was a member of the Costa Rican National Assembly from 2010 until late last month.
“Hopefully many more will follow his (Bruce’s) example because there is no equality without visibility,” said Romero.
Bruce has yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment.