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Activists across South America mark Pride Month

Demonstration in Chilean capital drew more than 100,000 people

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More than 100,000 people attended a Pride protest in Santiago, Chile, on June 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Velásquez)

Activists in Chile and across Latin America on June 25 took to the streets to celebrate Pride Month.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) and Fundación Iguales in Chile organized a demonstration in Santiago, the country’s capital, in which more than 100,000 people participated. March organizers demanded the repeal of Article 365 of the Chilean Penal Code that criminalizes same-sex couples.

Movilh member Felipe Castillo explained “Article 365 of the Penal Code stigmatizes and discriminates against young homosexuals, as it sets 18 years as the age of sexual consent, when for heterosexuals it is 14 years.”

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked Chile to repeal Article 365. The country has committed to eliminate the law in an agreement it signed with Movilh in 2016 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Chile’s marriage equality law took effect on March 10, the day before President Gabriel Boric took office. 

New Colombia president a sign of hope for LGBTQ, intersex activists

LGBTQ and intersex activists in Colombia are looking forward to what will be a new political era after former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro won the second round of the country’s presidential elections on June 19. Petro, along with his running mate, Vice President-elect Francia Márquez, who will be the country’s first vice president of African descent, will be the first leftist executives in Colombian history.

A source in Bogotá, the Colombian capital, told the Washington Blade that Petro during the campaign pledged to fight violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to implement policies “for the reaffirmation of gender identities and sexual orientation without barriers for all non-binary people and transgender people in Colombia.”

Manuel Velandia, a long-time Colombian LGBTQ and intersex activist who organized the country’s first demonstration in support of queer rights 39 years ago, told the Blade that authorities sent a contingent of 100 police officers and “we — 29 gay men, two lesbian women and a transsexual woman — marched.”

“The march could take place because in Colombia it was a crime to be homosexual and we achieved the decriminalization of homosexuality in the Penal Code,” said Velandia.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Bogotá on June 25 to demand a nationwide LGBTQ and intersex strategy “as a measure to guarantee the rights of this population, combat discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sexual characteristics (OSIEGCS), and eliminate the barriers that persist for the materialization of the rights acquired by judicial means, according to national and international human rights standards.” 

Velandia explained to the Blade that activists are “writing a document of what we expect from the next government from president’s inauguration and during the first 100 days.”

“We now are focusing on the most priority issues,” said Velandia. “We think that a law that comes out of a ministry is not as important as a national law passed by Congress.”

Additional Pride marches will take place in Bogotá in the coming days.

Peruvian activists hold country’s largest-ever Pride march

The largest Pride march in Peru’s history took place on June 25 in Lima, the country’s capital.

“It has been the largest march in the 20 years of history of this massive activity,” activist Jorge Apolaya told the Blade. “[It was a] joyful rebellion, as we call it.”

Apoyala pointed out activists took to the streets because “it is necessary” for Peru and President Pedro Castillo’s government to act on “the demands of the LGBT population, the gender identity law, the equal marriage law that are pending before respective committees in the Congress of the Republic and generate the necessary discussions so that they can be debated.”

According to the activist, “the country continues to remain at the back door with respect to respect for LGBT human rights in the world, but not even in the world, but at the Latin American level.”

Protests prompt cancellation of many Ecuador Pride events

Protests that have taken place across Ecuador for more than two weeks prompted activists to suspend most activists and demonstrations in favor of LGBTQ and intersex rights that had been scheduled to take place this month.

“There are seven Prides that have already been suspended out of those that were scheduled,” Diane Rodríguez, a prominent Ecuadorian activist, told the Blade.

Rodríguez noted two marches in the cities of Santo Domingo and Loja were able to take place on Saturday.

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South America

Colombia’s first leftist president takes office

Gustavo Petro has pledged to support LGBTQ, intersex rights

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Gustavo Petro took office as Colombia's first leftist president on Aug. 7, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Colombian government)

Former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro on Sunday took office as Colombia’s first leftist president.

The former Colombian senator who was once a member of the M-19 guerrilla movement that disbanded in the 1990s, in June defeated former Bucaramanga Mayor Rodolfo Hernández in the second round of the country’s presidential election. Petro’s running mate, Francia Márquez, on Sunday took office as Colombia’s first female vice president of African descent.

Colombian Vice President Francia Márquez. (Photo courtesy of Márquez’s Twitter page)

Petro before his inauguration named Néstor Osuna, an openly gay man, as the country’s new justice minister.

“I am honored and thankful to President Gustavo Petro for the appointment as Colombia’s justice minister,” tweeted Osuna on Sunday. “I commit myself to working with your team to achieve the change for which so many of our compatriots yearn.”

Petro in his inaugural speech did not specifically reference LGBTQ and intersex Colombians, but OrgulloLGBT.co, the Washington Blade’s media partner in the country, published pictures that show LGBTQ and intersex people were among those who attended the inauguration.

Petro during the campaign pledged to fight violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to implement policies “for the reaffirmation of gender and sexual orientation identities without barriers for all nonbinary and transgender people in Colombia.” Márquez noted LGBTQ and intersex Colombians after she and Petro won the election.

Wilson Castañeda, director of Caribe Afirmativo, an LGBTQ and intersex rights group in northern Colombia, told the Blade after Petro and Márquez won the election that the campaign held “various meetings” with advocacy groups. Castañeda also noted that Petro, among other things, named Tatiana Piñeros, a transgender woman, to run Bogotá’s social welfare and tourism office when he was mayor.

Castañeda and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power are among those who attended Sunday’s inauguration that took place in Bogotá’s Bolívar Square.

“Full squares; happy faces; the flags of Colombia, Bogotá; rural, indigenous and LGBTI communities received the president and the vice president in an emotive and historic act that inaugurated the first popular and leftist Colombian government,” tweeted Bogotá Mayor Claudia López on Sunday.

López is married to Angélica Lózano, a bisexual woman who in 2018 became the first LGBTQ and intersex person elected to the Colombian Senate.

Lozano in March won re-election in the country’s national elections. Colombians also elected five openly LGBTQ and intersex people to the country’s House of Representatives.

Tamara Argote in March became the first non-binary person elected to the Colombian Congress.

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South America

Chile Senate votes to equalize age of consent

Activists have sought Article 365 repeal for more than two decades

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Attendees in June's Pride march in Santiago, Chile, call for the repeal of Article 365 of the country's penal code. (Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Velásquez)

The Chilean Senate on Tuesday approved the repeal of Article 365 of the country’s penal code that differentiated the age of consent between same-sex and heterosexual couples.

Article 365 was the last homophobic law in force in the country that has seen an expansion of rights to LGBTQ and intersex Chileans in recent years. A law that allows same-sex couples to marry and adopt children took effect on March 10.

Although the Article 365 repeal bill will go before the Chilean House of Deputies, Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), the country’s main LGBTQ and intersex rights group, said its passage is assured because the chamber has already approved it.

Movilh, which has been working to repeal Article 365 since 1999, described Tuesday’s vote as “historic” because “it is the elimination from our legal system of the last explicitly homophobic law in force in Chile.” The Chilean LGBTQ and intersex rights organization said the bill “approved today in the Senate will end the stigma that weighs on young gay men, whose sexual orientation and practices are considered a crime despite the absence of abuse or abuse against third parties and despite the absence of any other crime already sanctioned by our legislation.”

Movilh Director Rolando Jiménez said that “with the elimination of this anachronistic norm, the struggle for LGBTIQA+ equality closes a cycle, where no one will ever again be punished for loving or desiring someone of the same sex.”

“Today we took a forceful and decisive step towards full legal equality, a right already guaranteed in the constitution, but which has historically been so elusive for LGBTIQA+ people,” stressed Jiménez.

The Chilean State in the 2016 agreement it signed with Movilh before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights committed to repeal Article 365.

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South America

Referendum on new Chile constitution to take place Sept. 4

Draft document specifically includes LGBTQ rights

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Constitutional Convention President María Elisa Quinteros, left, and Constitutional Convention Vice President Gaspar Domínguez, right, present the final draft of Chile's new constitution to the country's president, Gabriel Boric, center, on July 4, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Constitutional Convention)

Chile, one of the most conservative countries in South America, on Sept. 4 will hold a referendum on the country’s new constitution that specifically includes protections for LGBTQ people.

Chileans will have to vote on the constitution that the Constitutional Convention, a group of 155 elected members, drafted. Eight of them are openly LGBTQ and one of them, Gaspar Domínguez, a gay doctor who works at a rural hospital in Palena in Los Lagos Region in southern Chile, served as its vice president.

The unprecedented social unrest that took place in Chile in October 2019 set this constitutional process in motion. An expansion of LGBTQ rights were among the protesters’ myriad demands.

The recognition of the different ways of forming a family, the right to identity and nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, among other things, will become reality if Chileans approve the new constitution. Chile would become one of the few countries in the world with a constitution that specifically enshrines LGBTQ rights.

Domínguez told the Washington Blade that the new constitution is “at the forefront of the world since it is the only constitution in the world that ensures political representation of sexual minorities. It also has the right to identity and has good rights.”

Domínguez is currently traveling throughout Chile to encourage people to vote for the constitution. He nevertheless recognizes this work is not easy because those who oppose it “are spreading fake news.” 

The new constitution seeks to distribute political and economic power.

The current one dates back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, and many Chileans consider it illegitimate because they feel it benefits a privileged few. A heated debate is currently underway between the new constitution’s supporters and opponents. 

Several polls indicate the majority of Chileans plan to vote against it, but Domínguez said “polls do not always tell the truth” and remains hopeful “the approve option will prevail.”

“When the discussion on the decriminalization of sodomy was made at the end of the 90s some said that Chile was not ready and it was approved and nothing happened,” he said. “Then in the 2000s they said that Chile was not ready to legislate on divorce. It was approved and nothing happened.”         

The referendum will take place less than six months after the country’s marriage equality law took effect.

 Domínguez said “Chile has already changed.”

“The fact that, for example, eight people of sexual diversity have been elected (to the Constitutional Commission), that I have been vice president of the convention being openly and explicitly gay, shows that independently of the result of the electoral process of the plebiscite, it was already on the public and political agenda,” he told the Blade.

“It has been a lot of responsibility to be up to a task of that magnitude,” added Domínguez, referring to his role as the Constitutional Convention’s vice president. “And I believe that we have undertaken the work with the seriousness that is required and we have reached a successful conclusion.”          

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