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Germany appoints first queer commissioner

Sven Lehmann is a member of the Green Party.

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Sven Lehman via Instagram

Green Party lawmaker Sven Lehmann was appointed as Germany’s commissioner for the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity.  As the ‘Queer-Beauftragter der Bundesregierung,’ [Queer Commissioner of the Federal Government] Lehmann will oversee a LGBTQ national action plan for the first time in the country’s history.

He has been a member of the Bundestag, the German parliament, since 2017. Since 2018 he has been spokesperson for queer policy and social policy within the Green Party along with his fellow parliamentarian, Ursula “Ulle” Schauws, a member of the Alliance ’90/The Greens party.

In a statement (translated from German) posted to his social media accounts, Lehmann said;

“The Federal Government appointed me today as the Commissioner for the Acceptance of Sexual and Gender Diversity (‘Queer Commissioner’)!

The newly created office of the Queer Commissioner shows how important it is for the federal government to accept diversity. Everyone should be able to live freely, safely and with equal rights. Based on the guiding principle of self-determination, the new federal government will pursue a progressive queer policy and also align family policy with the social reality of different types of families.

The protection of people on the basis of their sexual and gender identity must be ensured in the Basic Law and the fundamental rights of trans, inter and non-binary people must finally be fully enforced.

We also need a broad strategy to combat group-related enmity — including explicitly against queerophobia. To this end, together with the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, I will launch a national action plan for the acceptance and protection of sexual and gender diversity. Germany should become a pioneer in the fight against discrimination!”

Lehmann’s appointment and the creation of the office was applauded by LGBTQ+ advocates across Germany.

Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) said the newly created office is “another important signal for the queer political awakening promised by the coalition government.”

Lehmann has to become “the driving force in the government in order to implement the queer political projects promised in the coalition agreement,” Henny Engels from the LSVD board told state-owned media outlet Deutsche Welle.

“Right now he should urgently endeavor to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are explicitly included in the admission program for refugees from Afghanistan, which was recently presented by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock,” Engels said.

The German Society for Trans Identity and Intersexuality (DGTI) also said it looked forward to working with Lehmann on the path to a “better world for all trans, inter and non-binary people.”

In recent years, some changes have been initiated in this area of equality and diversity that can now be brought to a good end, DGTI told Deutsche Welle in a written statement.

“From the DGTI’s point of view, this includes, above all, the abolition of the ‘transsexual law’ and the passage of new legislation on self-determination.”

In 2018, Germany officially recognized the existence of more than two genders when it introduced a third option, “diverse,” in addition to “male” and “female.”

Lehmann ‘s colleague Schauws told Deutsche Welle that while the nation needs to catch up with many countries on LGBTQ+ rights, she hopes the new government can lead by example for those even further behind.

“The new coalition has the task of ensuring that people with queer biographies are finally taken seriously and the realities of diverse families are reflected in our laws so they can live free of discrimination,” Schauws said.

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Two LGBTQ people named to Chilean president-elect’s Cabinet

Gabriel Boric and his government takes office on March 11

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Chilean President-elect Gabriel Boric. (Photo via the Chilean government)

Chilean President-elect Gabriel Boric on Friday named two openly LGBTQ people to his Cabinet.

Marco Antonio Ávila, who is a gay man, will be the country’s education minister. Alexandra Benado, who is a lesbian, will be Chile’s sports minister.

Javiera Zúñiga, a spokesperson for Movilh (Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual), a Chilean LGBTQ rights group, applauded Boric for naming Ávila and Benado to his Cabinet.

“The visibility of sexual orientation and gender identity is no longer an impediment to access any position in Chile,” said Zúñiga in a press release. “Sexual orientation and gender identity are irrelevant for the positions, whether they are public or private. Capability is the only thing that matters.”

Boric and his government will take office on March 11. Chile’s marriage equality law goes into effect the day before.

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Lesbian couple murdered, dismembered in Mexico border city

Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez killed in Ciudad Juárez

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From left: Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez. (Photo via Facebook)

Authorities in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez on Sunday found the dismembered bodies of a lesbian couple along a local highway.

The dismembered body parts of Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez were found in plastic bags that had been placed along the Juárez-El Porvenir Highway.

El Diario, a Mexican newspaper, reported the married women lived in El Paso, Texas, which is across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez. Authorities said relatives last spoke with Ramírez and Medina on Saturday afternoon.

A source in Ciudad Juárez with whom the Washington Blade spoke on Thursday confirmed Ramírez and Medina “were lesbian women” and their murder was “very violent.”

Members of Comité de la Diversidad Sexual de Chihuahua, an LGBTQ rights group in the state of Chihuahua in which Ciudad Juárez is located, and Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván are among those who have expressed outrage over the women’s murders. Comité de la Diversidad Sexual de Chihuahua on Wednesday also urged local and state authorities to investigate whether the murder was a hate crime.

“People of sexual diversity are questioned, including their existence through heteronormative discourse,” said the group in a statement. “They have the right to a life free of violence in which they exercise all their rights, in addition to living without fear or fear of rejection and aggressions that can unfortunately escalate to hate crimes.”

El Diario reported Ramírez and Medina are two of the nine women who have been reported killed in Ciudad Juárez since the beginning of the year.

Personas de las Diversidades Afectivo Sexuales, an LGBTQ rights group in Ciudad Juárez, and feminist organizations on Thursday organized a protest during which participants demanded local, state and federal authorities do more to end to violence against women in the city. The press release that announced the demonstration specifically cited Ramírez and Medina.

“We seek justice and clarification in the murder of Nohemí and Yulissa, a lesbian couple who was found in Juárez-Porvenir Highway,” it reads.

LGBTQ activists and feminist groups participate in a protest against femicides in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on Jan. 20, 2022. (Courtesy photo)
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Transgender Mexicans receive amended birth certificates at country’s consulates

New policy announced Wednesday in Mexico City

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday announced transgender people who were born in Mexico can receive an amended birth certificate at any of the country’s consulates.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is among those who spoke at a ceremony at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Mexico City where he and other officials detailed the policy. Trans Congresswomen Salma Luévano and María Clemente García attended alongside Sen. Malú Micher, trans activist Jessica Marjane, Global Equality Caucus Deputy Director Aron Le Fevre and Amicus Director Juan Pablo Delgado are among those who attended.

Amicus, an advocacy group that is based in the state of Guanajuato, represented two trans Mexicans who brought legal action after consulates in the U.S. denied their request for birth certificates that correspond with their gender identity.

Victory Institute International Programs Manager Mateo de la Torre in 2019 sought legal recourse, known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system, after the Mexican Consulate in D.C. said it could not change the sex on his birth certificate.

Delgado earlier this week told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from Guanajuato that one judge asked De La Torre to file his “amparo” in person in Tijuana because his signature did not correspond with the one on his Mexican ID. Delgado said a trans woman from Guanajuato filed her own “amparo” in 2021 after the Mexican Consulate in Houston said it could not issue her an amended birth certificate.

Trans Mexicans who want to receive an amended birth certificate need to provide their original document, but Delgado told the Blade that consulates can access them through a data base. De La Torre on Wednesday received an amended birth certificate at the Mexican Consulate in D.C.

“This birth certificate comes after a decade of living in my truth as a transgender man and after years of advocating for my right to be recognized as such,” De La Torre told the Blade. “In Mexico and abroad, many trans people face discrimination, violence and endless bureaucratic hurdles in their fight for legal recognition, and after all this time I am most grateful for the ability to vote in my country’s elections.”

“This new process has the possibility of being life saving for many of our most vulnerable community members, and I will continue to advocate for the day that all trans people living in Mexico are also afforded the right to a process that is free of discrimination and based on self-attestation,” added De La Torre.

Delgado described the new policy as “a great advancement towards the recognition of gender identity” in Mexico.

“It’s a super important advancement,” said Delgado.

Delgado noted Mexico City and 18 of Mexico’s 32 states currently allow trans people to receive birth certificates that correspond to their gender identity.

The Mexican Senate has passed a bill that would codify the Foreign Affairs Ministry policy into law. The measure is now before the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, which is the lower house of the country’s Congress.

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