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Bogotá councilwoman stresses gay rights movement is “unstoppable”

Voters elected Angélica Lozano to the council in 2011

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Bogotá, Angélica Lozano, Colombia, Washington Blade, gay news

Bogotá, Angélica Lozano, Colombia, Washington Blade, gay news

Bogotá City Councilwoman Angélica Lozano (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BOGOTÁ, Colombia—Out Bogotá City Councilwoman Angélica Lozano on Friday stressed Colombia’s gay rights movement is “unstoppable.”

“I am optimistic, but cultural changes are slow,” she told the Washington Blade during an interview at her office. “Civil rights fights take time, [but] there is a global movement towards equality.”

Voters elected Lozano, 37, to the Bogotá City Council in 2011.

She was mayor of Bogotá’s Chapinero district, which has a large gay population, from 2005-2008. Lozano has also advised Colombian lawmakers Antonio Navarro Wolff and Íngrid Betancourt Pulecio, whom members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kidnapped in 2002 while she was campaigning for president. Colombian soldiers in 2008 rescued Betancourt along with three American contractors and 11 others.

Lozano, who also co-founded the left-wing Independent Democratic Pole Party in 2003, told the Blade she experienced some negative reaction over her election. She said the majority of Chapinero residents, however, welcomed it.

“I think that in many areas of the community they saw a professional like anyone who does good work,” she said.

Lozano noted the Bogotá City Council, which has 45 members from 10 political parties, has a “radical” opposition led by two homophobic Christian pastors. She described the political climate as one of “constant confrontation” over LGBT-specific issues.

“I respect that you have rights to your opinion, but this is about the rights of societal inclusion and I think for my colleagues it is very interesting to see the contrast,” Lozano said. “Hate goes against equality, and that for which we work towards equality is not against anyone or their rights.”

Lozano spoke to the Blade less than a week after fellow Bogotá City Councilman Jorge Durán Silva referred to lesbians as “mujerzuelas” or “sluts” during a debate on a transportation bill.

Durán apologized for his comments during an interview with the Colombian radio station Blu Radio, saying he used the word as a joke. LGBT rights advocates on Tuesday gathered outside the Bogotá City Council building to protest the councilman who is now facing charges in connection with the incident.

“You have the right to say that you don’t like lesbians,” Lozano said. “You have every right and it will not offend us. It is your opinion, but you are responsible when it becomes degradation that legitimizes hate.”

Colombia’s Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled same-sex couples can legally register their relationships in two years if the country’s lawmakers don’t pass a bill that would extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage. The tribunal’s deadline is June 20, but the Colombian Senate last month overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have allowed gays and lesbians to tie the knot.

Lozano noted there have been nine LGBT-specific bills introduced over the last decade, but the country’s lawmakers have not acted upon any of them.

“We don’t expect anything from Congress, but we still introduced the bills that are here today,” she said.

Lozano also spoke to the Blade amid the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC that are taking place in Cuba.

She noted members of the FARC, paramilitaries and the Colombian army itself targeted, displaced or even killed LGBT people during the conflict that began in the 1960s. She described a gay man from the countryside who had the word “maricón” or “faggot” carved into his stomach as she discussed the need to include LGBT Colombians in any eventual peace agreement.

“We hope that the peace process holds those responsible for committing these atrocities and recognizes the victims of forced displacement and torture,” she said.

Lozano conceded one of the challenges LGBT Colombians continue to face is day-to-day social inequalities in spite of recent legal advances. She remains hopeful the situation will continue to improve.

“We have moved forward relatively quickly,” Lozano said. “I am hopeful that in these next 10 years the movement towards inclusion and respect will have accelerated.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tigre Hall

    June 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    What the article fails to mention is the fact that same-sex couples in Colombia can register their relationship with a Notary and enter into a Union Libre. My Colombian partner and I (I am from the U.S. and am not a Colombian citizen) have most of the same rights as unmarried heterosexual couples, including pension, property inheritance and health insurance. LGBT members of the military are also able to serve openly and their partners can live on base and receive the same benefits as heterosexual partners. Yes, there is still much work do be done, but Colombia has achieved much more than other countries, including the United States.

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World

Polish House passes bill echoing Russia “gay propaganda” law

Measure passed on Jan. 13 by 227-214 vote margin.

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The Polish parliament's lower House, the Sejm (Screenshot via Polish government Sejm RP YouTube)

A measure that would give school administrators and superintendents the power to remove books, lessons, and ban student participation in events or clubs that are LGBTQ affirming passed the lower house of Poland’s parliament, known as the Sejm, on Jan. 13 in a 227-214 vote.

The measure, dubbed “Lex Czarnek,” or “Czarnek’s Law,” after Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek,  who has been vehemently opposed to the LGBTQ rights and the country’s equality movement, now moves on to the upper house, the Senate where it faces opposition and likely will be rejected Polish broadcast media outlet RMF 24 reported.

According to RMF24, “The Sejm adopted the amendment to the Educational Law, prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science. The project is commonly known as ‘Lex Czarnek.’ The role of school superintendents will be strengthened, and the rules governing the functioning of non-governmental organizations in schools and educational institutions will be changed.”

Opposition to LGBTQ rights has an ally in the education minister whose role would determine the outcome of implementation of the measure:

“Pursuant to the amendment, the headmaster of the school or facility will be required — no later than two months before the commencement of classes conducted by associations or organizations —to obtain detailed information about the action plan in the school, the outline of classes and materials used in the offered classes, as well as obtain a positive the opinion of the education superintendent for the activities of such an organization at school or in an institution. The curator has 30 days to issue an opinion.”

The law also contains a stipulation that “if the head of the school or educational institution fails to comply with the recommendations issued by the school superintendent, he will be able to summon him to explain why he did not do so. If the principal still does not follow the recommendations, the probation officer may apply to the governing body of the school or facility with a request to dismiss the principal during the school year, without notice.”

A member of the Sejm, Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, a progressive leftist politician who in addition to protesting against abortion laws, has also been active in protests for LGBTQ rights, tweeted her outrage; “The voice of the curator Nowak, as if it were not stupid and dangerous to health and life, is more important for PiS deputies than the voice of students, parents and teachers.”

The MP and Czarnek, target of Dziemianowicz-Bąk’s anger, has staked out several public vitriolic anti-LGBTQ positions that has included an attack on the LGBTQ community in West Hollywood.

Speaking with a reporter on Serwis Info Poranek with the national state-run TVP Info (TVP3 Polska) last June, the newly appointed education minister said (translated from Polish):

“Let’s end the discussion about these LGBT abominations, homosexuality, bisexuality, parades of equality. Let us defend the family, because failure to defend the family leads to what you see.

As he spoke these words, he was holding a phone in his hand, on the display of which he showed a picture of several people.

“These are the Los Angeles guys in downtown last June. I was on a delegation there, I was passing through, there was a so-called gay pride parade there,” he added. “We are at an earlier stage, there are no such things with us yet, but such chaps shamelessly (sic.) Walk the streets of the western city of Los Angeles,” he added.

Przemysław Czarnek (Screenshot via Serwis Info Poranek)

Serwis Info Poranek also noted that according to Czarnek, “Europe is also heading for this, Poland is heading for this … These people are not equal to normal people, let’s end this discussion.”

During the ongoing battles over the so-called LGBTQ “Free Zones” with the European Commission Czarnek weighed in comparing the LGBTQ community to the Nazis.

“There’s no doubt, that LGBT+ ideology grew out of … the same root as Germany’s Hitlerian National Socialism, which was responsible for all the evil of World War II,” Czarnek said as PinkNewsUK reported.

Renew Europe, the liberal, pro-European political group of the European Parliament tweeted its outrage over the actions by the Sejm:

Observers think that the law will be rejected by the senate although under the Polish constitution there is still a possibility it could be signed off on by the anti-LGBTQ Polish President Andzej Duda.

PinkNewsUK reports:

“Although it seems that Lex Czarnek is on track to becoming law, Rémy Bonny, executive director of pan-EU LGBT+ rights organisation Forbidden Colours, insists that all is not lost.

With pressure from politicians both in the EU and around the world, Poland could be forced to backtrack.

He told PinkNewsUK that “in September, after threats by the European Commission to take away funding, four out five provinces that declared themselves ‘LGBT+ free zones’ withdrew their anti-LGBT+ resolutions … International pressure on Poland works.”

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World

Murdered Honduran transgender activist buried

Thalía Rodríguez shot outside her home on Monday

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The funeral of Thalía Rodríguez in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Jan. 11, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Reportar sin Miedo)

The Washington Blade on Thursday published a Spanish-language version of this story from Reportar sin Miedo, the Blade’s media partner in Honduras.

A prominent transgender activist in Honduras who was murdered on Monday has been buried.

Reportar sin Miedo reported activists are among those who attended Thalía Rodríguez’s funeral that took place in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital, on Tuesday.

Rodríguez led Asociación Cozumel Trans, a Honduran trans rights group.

The U.S. Embassy in Honduras, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras and the U.N. Refugee Agency have all condemned Rodríguez’s murder. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power in a tweet said she was “horrified” by the murders of Rodríguez and Pablo Hernández, a leader in Honduras’ indigenous Lenca community who was killed on Sunday near San Marcos de Caiquín, a municipality in the country’s Lempira department, while he was on his way to church.

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France, Greece to end restrictions for MSM blood donors

Calls for U.S. to remove abstinence requirement grow

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gay blood ban, gay news, Washington Blade
(Bigstock photo)

France and Greece this week announced they will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood without restrictions.

Têtu, a French LGBTQ magazine, noted men who have sex with men previously had to remain abstinent for four months before they could donate blood in France.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran on Tuesday announced this requirement would no longer be in place as of March 16. Têtu also noted officials will no longer ask potential blood donors about their sexual orientation.

“It’s a whole new relationship with the blood donor that we want,” said Véran.

Greece on Monday also said it would allow MSM to donate blood without restrictions.

Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris and Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga issued a decree that will become official once the Government Gazette publishes it.

Greece and France are the latest countries to lift restrictions for MSM who want to donate blood.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently allows MSM to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for three months.

The American Red Cross this week declared a blood crisis because of the surge in COVID-19 omicron variant cases. The declaration sparked renewed calls for the U.S. to allow MSM to donate blood without restrictions.

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