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Chilean voters elect country’s first openly gay politician

Jaime Parada Hoyl won seat on Providencia council. Two transgender candidates also won local council candidates.

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Jaime Parada Hoyl, Chile, gay news, Washington Blade
Jaime Parada Hoyl, Chile, gay news, Washington Blade

Jaime Parada Hoyl on Oct. 28 became Chile’s first openly gay candidate elected to office. (Photo courtesy of Jaime Parada Hoyl)

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.

Parada also mocked Labbé as a homophobe in a web ad his campaign produced.

“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.”

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District of Columbia

Bernie Delia, attorney, beloved Capital Pride organizer, dies at 68

Activist worked at Justice Department, White House as attorney

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Bernie Delia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bernie Delia, a founding member of the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes most D.C. LGBTQ Pride events, and who served most recently as co-chair of World Pride 2025, which D.C. will be hosting next June, died unexpectedly on Friday, June 21, according to a statement released by Capital Pride Alliance. He was 68.

“It is with great sadness that the Capital Pride Alliance mourns the passing of Bernie Delia,” the statement says. “We will always reflect on his life and legacy as a champion, activist, survivor, mentor, friend, leader, and a true inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The statement says that in addition to serving six years as the Capital Pride Alliance board president, Delia served for several years as president of Dignity Washington, the local LGBTQ Catholic organization, where he helped create “an environment for spiritual enrichment during the height of the AIDS epidemic.”

“He also had a distinguished legal career, serving as one of the first openly gay appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice and later as an appellate attorney,” the statement reads.

Delia’s LinkedIn page shows that he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice for 26 years, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2001 to 2019. Prior to that, he served from 1997 to 2001 as associate deputy attorney general and from 1994 to 1997 served as senior counsel to the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which provides executive and administrative support for 93 U.S. attorneys located throughout the country.

His LinkedIn page shows he served from January-June 1993 as deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel during the administration of President Bill Clinton, in which he was part of the White House staff. And it shows he began his career as legal editor of the Bureau of National Affairs, which published news reports on legal issues, from 1983-1993.

The Capital Pride Alliance statement describes Delia as “an avid runner who served as the coordinator of the D.C. Front Runners and Stonewall Kickball LGBTQ sports groups.”

“He understood the value, purpose, and the urgency of the LGBTQ+ community to work together and support one another,” the statement says. “He poured his soul into our journey toward World Pride, which was a goal of his from the start of his involvement with Capital Pride.”

The statement adds, “Bernie will continue to guide us forward to ensure we meet this important milestone as we gather with the world to be visible, heard, and authentic. We love you, Bernie!”

In a statement posted on social media, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she and her administration were “heartbroken” over the news of Delia’s passing.

“Bernie leaves behind an incredible legacy in our city and country — through his life and advocacy, he helped pave a path for LGBTQIA+ residents in our city and within the federal government to live and work openly and proudly,” the mayor says in her statement.

“He helped transform Capital Pride into one of the largest and most inclusive Pride celebrations in the nation — a true reflection and representation of our people and values,” the statement says. “This is the D.C. that Bernie helped build and that he leaves behind.”

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Africa

Prominent South African activist elected to country’s parliament

Steve Letsike founded Access Chapter 2

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Steve Letsike (Photo courtesy of Steve Letsike)

A prominent South African LGBTQ activist has won a seat in the country’s parliament.

Steve Letsike, a lesbian woman who founded Access Chapter 2, a South African advocacy group, is a member of the African National Congress. She is also part of the ANC’s National Executive Committee that determines the party’s direction.

Letsike won a seat in the South African National Assembly in national and provincial elections that took place on May 29.

The ANC lost its parliamentary majority that it had had since Nelson Mandela in 1994 won the South African presidency in the country’s first post-apartheid elections. MPs earlier this month re-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa after the ANC invited the Democratic Alliance and other parties to form a Government of National Unity.

Letsike in a statement to the Washington Blade described her election as “a milestone for the people of South Africa, and also affirmative of our party’s posture that is inclusive and intention to transformation agenda.”

“I am not in parliament for myself but the people that trusted the ANC to send individuals that will put people first,” said Letsike. “In that cohort that includes the LGBTI people like myself. Rooted in the teaching of a just society, that seeks equality and believes in the rule of law. That demand on developmental agenda from a queer lens and clear priorities of the people is important.” 

“I am delighted by this task, trust and hope for our people,” she added.

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The White House

EXCLUSIVE: Jill Biden to host White House Pride celebration

Event to take place on June 26

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First lady Jill Biden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

First lady Jill Biden will host the White House Pride Month celebration on June 26, according to a press release previewed by the Washington Blade.

The party on the South Lawn will also feature a performance by singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer Deborah Cox and musical selections by DJ Trifle.

This year’s event comes on Equality Day this year, which honors the anniversaries of three landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions that expanded rights and protections for LGBTQ Americans: Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down sodomy laws, United States v. Windsor (2013), which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which made marriage equality the law of the land.

The White House highlighted some of the “historic action” taken by President Joe Biden to “advance LGBTQ+ equality for the community,” including:

  • Signing into law the landmark Respect for Marriage Act which protects the rights of same-sex and interracial couples;
  • Appointing a historic number of LGBTQI+ and transgender appointees, including the first transgender American to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate;
  • Directing all federal agencies to strengthen civil rights protections on the basis of gender identity, resulting in agencies working to strengthen protections in housing, health care, education, employment, the criminal justice system, nutrition programs, and more;
  • Reversing the ban on open service by transgender members of the military;
  • Signing an executive order focused on LGBTQI+ children and families that directs agencies to address the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” and finalized rule-making that ends disparities that LGBTQI+ children and parents face in the child welfare and foster care system and protects against disparities in health care; and
  • President Biden continues to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act to enshrine civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in federal law.

Last year, the president and the first lady hosted the celebration, which was the largest Pride event ever held at the White House.

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