Peruvian police on Saturday used water cannons against a group of activists who staged an LGBT rights protest.
More than two dozen people gathered in Lima’s Plaza de Armas to take part in the protest that was described as “kisses against homophobia.”
Sin Etiquetas, a Lima-based LGBT website, posted pictures to its website that show same-sex couples kissing and holding hands in the street with armored police trucks in the background.
Other pictures show officers confronting the protesters. A YouTube video shows the advocates shouting, “No to homophobia.”
Chola Contravisual, a self-described “feminist audiovisual collective” that organized the protest, told the Washington Blade on Sunday that police sprayed the activists with water and kerosene from an armored truck.
The group said that a Sin Etiquetas contributor was hurt during the incident.
Chola Contravisual told the Blade that an activist also suffered a bruised arm.
‘Aggression was excessive’
Police in 2011 clashed with LGBT rights advocates who staged a similar protest in the square.
“We were assaulted by the police on Feb. 13 and like every year,” said Chola Contravisual, referring to the annual protest that takes place on the eve of Valentine’s Day. “Approximately 25 LGBTQ people were gathered in Lima’s Plaza de Armas and only some couples expressed their live with kisses and hugs.”
George Liendo of Promsex, a Peruvian LGBT rights group, told the Blade that members of his organization took part in the protest.
“The aggression was excessive towards the young people who gather each year in the main square to kiss against homophobia,” he said.
Liendo told the Blade that authorities have banned protests of “any kind” in the square. He said that religious processions, cultural events and other demonstrations routinely take place without incident.
“They (the police) are obligated to protect the LGBTI community, as it is a population that is particularly susceptible to violence,” said Liendo.
Peruvian LGBT rights advocates maintain that discrimination and violence remain pervasive in the conservative South American country. They also lack many of the basic legal protections that are found in neighboring Chile and other nations in the region.
Peruvian lawmakers last year tabled gay Congressman Carlos Bruce’s bill that would have extended civil unions to same-sex couples.
The country’s influential Roman Catholic church was among that opposed the measure. Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda Lossio, who is president of the center-right National Solidarity Party, also opposes LGBT rights.
Luisa Revilla Urcia in 2014 became the first openly transgender person elected to public office in Peru when she won a seat on the local council in La Esperanza. Peru in the same year backed a resolution against anti-LGBT violence and discrimination that the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted.