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Baja California governor vetoes bill banning conversion therapy

Measure overwhelmingly passed in Mexico state’s Congress on April 21

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Baja California Gov. Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda (Photo courtesy of Olmeda's Instagram page)

The governor of Mexico’s Baja California state has vetoed a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy.

The bill, which passed in the Baja California Congress on April 21 by a 20-4 vote margin, would specifically amend the state’s Penal Code and non-discrimination law to ban the discredited practice. Anyone convicted of conversion therapy would be fined and receive a sentence of between 2-6 years in prison.

Media reports indicate Gov. Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda vetoed the bill in order to send it back to lawmakers “to be able to strengthen this initiative from our points of view.” Eduardo Arredondo, an activist and member of the Congress’ Youth Parliament who pushed for the measure, on Tuesday told the Los Angeles Blade that Ávila made her decision in response “to the pressure that conservative groups put on her.”

“They maintain that each person is free to profess the religion that they want and can therefore act in accordance to their beliefs,” said Arredondo. “This includes seeking ‘help’ or an ‘advisory opinion’ in a situation in which their son or daughter is a member of the LGBT+ community. They also maintain that they, as parents, have the right to seek help to educate their child in the best way.”

Arredondo in a statement further defended the bill.

“The approval of the (conversion therapy) bill in Baja California represents a big step forward in the recognition of the rights of the LGBT+ community in the state,” he said. “The delay in the publication of the law on the part of the governor represents a setback in the guarantee of these rights. As long as this law is not published, therapies will continue to take place and many young people and children will continue to be subjected to these practices.”

Altagracia Tamayo is the president of Centro Comunitario de Bienestar Social (COBINA), a group in the state capital of Mexicali that serves LGBTQ+ people and other vulnerable groups.

Tamayo on Monday at a press conference that Comité Orgullo Mexicali, another local LGBTQ+ rights group, organized in response to Ávila’s veto said she survived conversion therapy.

“Conversion therapy damages the most intimate part of what makes children and young people a human being,” said Tamayo.  

Seven other jurisdictions in Mexico have banned conversion therapy.

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Mexico

Five Calif. Congress members visit Tijuana shelters for LGBTQ asylum seekers

Delegation traveled to Mexican border city on May 6

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Members of Congress and LGBTQ+ activists on May 6, 2022, visited Casa Arcoíris, a shelter for LGBTQ asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Keeffe)

Five members of Congress from California last week visited two shelters for LGBTQ asylum seekers in Tijuana.

Congress members Mark Takano, Raul Ruiz, Juan Vargas, Katie Porter and Sara Jacobs on May 6 toured Jardín de las Mariposas and Casa Arcoíris.

The Council for Global Equality organized the trip.

Chair Mark Bromley, Co-chair Julie Dorf and Senior Policy Fellow Bierne Roose-Snyder traveled to Tijuana along with Organization of Refuge, Asylum and Migration Executive Director Steve Roth. Representatives of the Transgender Law Center and the Refugee Alliance also met with the group.

The trip began in San Diego.

“As we work to fix our broken immigration system, improve border efficiency, and restore asylum at our borders, we must take a humanitarian approach and proactively protect all vulnerable populations lawfully seeking asylum in our country,” said Ruiz in a statement his office issued before the trip. “The LGBTQI community is one of the most vulnerable to face persecution, violence, and abuse in their home countries, throughout their journey to our borders, and in detention centers. As a trained humanitarian, I am going to assess their vulnerabilities and help provide humanitarian protections that are consistent with our American laws and their human rights.” 

The trip took place less than a month before the scheduled end of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic. The trip also coincided with the ILGA World Conference that took place last week in Long Beach.

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