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Chile president backs marriage equality

Activists are celebrating Sebastián Piñera’s historic change of heart



Sebastián Piñera, Chile, gay news, Washington Blade
Sebastián Piñera

Editor’s note: The Los Angeles Blade on Thursday published a Spanish version of this story.

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean President Sebastián Piñera on Tuesday announced he supports a marriage equality bill, marking a historic change of heart since he had previously opposed two people of the same sex being able to marry.

“I think the time has come for marriage equality in our country,” said Piñera in a surprising declaration that left no doubts.

“We must deepen the value of freedom, including the freedom to love and to form a family with a loved one, and (we must) also expand upon the value of the dignity of all relationships of love and affection between two people,” stressed the president during his last speech to Congress.

Justice Minister Hernán Larraín on Thursday confirmed “great urgency will be placed on it so that it can proceed with some speed and I believe it shouldn’t be very difficult because there are majorities in Congress to approve this measure. The president’s intention is not to introduce a new bill, but to move forward with the one that was already in the Senate.”

The bill that Larraín mentioned is the one that former President Michelle Bachelet sent to Congress in 2017 soon after the country entered into an agreement with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights after the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), the country’s oldest LGBTQ rights organization, filed a lawsuit.

This means each chamber of Congress should dispatch the bill within 15 days, which Movilh President Rolando Jiménez says is a “great and hopeful sign for same-sex couples and same-sex families who live in complete legal inequality.”

“After 30 years of struggle, we are closing one of the most important battles for LGBTIQ people,” he said. “All families will finally have the dignity they deserve.”

Jiménez, who has been fighting for LGBTQ rights in the country for many years, pointed out that “we value this change in attitude by Piñera.”

“We hope that the Congress between today and tomorrow will recognize the utmost urgency (to pass the marriage equality bill.),” said Jiménez. “We especially recognize and highlight that Piñera decided to promote the same bill that we drafted together with former President Michelle Bachelet within the framework of the agreement that the State and Movilh signed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

Jiménez added that he and Movilh “declare ourselves especially excited because this announcement is taking place during Pride month and weeks before Movilh celebrates 30 years of struggle on June 28.”

Same-sex couples in Chile since 2015 has been able to enter into civil unions, but LGBTQ activists say this legal status is insufficient. Seven Latin American countries — Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, México, Uruguay, Ecuador and Costa Rica — are among the nations that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.  

Reactions to Piñera’s announcement

Piñera’s announcement generated a genuine political earthquake. #MarriageEquality immediately became a trending topic on Twitter. Members of Piñera’s party in Congress accused him of “treason” for deciding to push forward with the bill.

The opposition, meanwhile, celebrated the decision, but resentments remain since its relationship with Piñera’s government has been broken for a long time because of its handling of the pandemic, human rights violations during social unrest and other differences.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, through a statement declared itself in opposition to the measure. “What is established and wanted by God is that it (marriage) is only between a man and a woman,” it said.

“From the point of view of the rights of people who decide to live together, national legislation has established a regime that legally protects their decision and grants it recognition,” the church pointed out, referring to the civil union law that does not allow adoption and does not recognize paternity.

The church also affirmed that “those of us who follow Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and are guided by his teaching hold the truth that marriage established and willed by God is only between a man and a woman, a communion that creates life and establishes the family.”

Wave of anti-LGBTQ violence

Piñera’s announcement coincides with a dramatic increase in violence against queer people in Chile. The judiciary system and the government have not responded to the majority of cases in a timely manner.

Fundación Iguales, a Chilean group allied with the Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with AllOut recently launched a campaign to stop the violence and to urge Piñera’s government to reform the Anti-Discrimination Law passed in 2012 in the wake of the anti-gay attack against Daniel Zamudio, a case that sparked outrage in Chile and around the world.

The goal of the “No More Laws with Name” campaign is to raise awareness about the need to improve the current legislation to ensure that it actually prevents hate crimes.  

Fundación Iguales said it based the campaign on a survey to which 1,454 LGBTQ adults from across the country responded. Two-thirds of respondents said they had been verbally attacked over the last five years.

The results also show that a quarter of respondents said they have been physically assaulted at some point in their life because of their sexual orientation, identity or gender expression. Most of these attacks occurred in public.

“Fundación Iguales has a zero-tolerance policy for violence against LGBTI people,” said Fundación Iguales Executive Director Isabel Amor. “For this reason, we have, in addition to preparing our own survey, created an interactive platform that will allow everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, identity or gender expression, to know about their chances of suffering an attack or hate crime.”

“The numbers make clear the need for urgency to respond to the demands of sexual diversity (activists), to have full inclusion in terms of rights and benefits,” added Amor. “The first thing we have to do to achieve this is to establish that the demands for security and inclusion, as well as for marriage equality, are not niche things, but those for the majority of the population.”


South America

Former Brazilian congressman David Miranda dies

Glenn Greenwald announced husband’s death on Tuesday



Former Brazilian Congressman David Miranda (Photo via Twitter)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Former Brazilian Congressman David Miranda died in a Rio de Janeiro hospital on Tuesday.

Media reports indicate Miranda, 37, had been in the intensive care unit for nine months with a gastrointestinal infection. His husband, journalist Glenn Greenwald, announced Miranda’s death on his Twitter page.

“His death, early this morning, came after a 9-month battle in ICU,” tweeted Greenwald. “He died in full peace, surrounded by our children and family and friends.”

Miranda, who would have turned 38 on Wednesday, was born in Rio’s Jacarezinho favela.

Greenwald on his Twitter account noted Miranda’s neighbor adopted him after his mother died when he was 5.

“That gave David the chance to live his full potential in a society that often suffocates it,” said Greenwald. “He was key to the (Edward) Snowden story, became the first gay man elected to Rio’s City Council, then federal Congress at 32. He inspired so many with his biography, passion and force of life.”

Miranda and Greenwald met on a Rio beach in 2005. The two men in 2017 adopted two brothers.

Miranda in 2016 won a seat on the Rio Muncipal Council. His friend, bisexual Rio Municipal Councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were assassinated on March 14, 2018, in the city’s Lapa neighborhood.

Miranda in 2019 succeeded Jean Wyllys, who is openly gay, after death threats prompted him to resign from Congress and flee Brazil. Miranda last year announced he would not seek re-election.

“My condolences to Glenn Greenwald and relatives for the loss of David Miranda,” tweeted Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “[He was] a young man with an extraordinary trajectory who left too soon.”

Michelle Seixas, the national political coordinator of Articulação Brasileira de Lésbicas (Brazilian Articulation of Lesbians), a group that advocates on behalf of lesbians in Brazil, told the Washington Blade that Miranda’s death is “still hard to believe.” Other Brazilian activists, advocacy groups and politicians also mourned the late-congressman.

“I just received the sad news of the death of colleague David Miranda, a former federal congressman for the PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party) and LGBT activist,” said Congresswoman Erika Hilton, a Transgender woman who represents São Paulo. “My love and solidarity with your family and friends. Rest in peace, David!”

Franco’s widow, Rio Municipal Councilwoman Mônica Benício, also paid tribute to Miranda.

“David Miranda — one of the greatest loves I’ve ever had in my life,” said Benício in a tweet that included a picture of her kissing Miranda. “We were so obsessed with each other that we made a promise to die together one day because we didn’t want to live without our friendship, but David couldn’t wait. He leaves us on the eve of his birthday.”

Gui Mohallem, co-founder and director of VoteLGBT, a group that seeks to increase the number of LGBTQ and intersex people in Brazilian politics, also mourned Miranda.

“It’s a great, great, great loss,” Mohallem told the Blade on Tuesday.

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South America

Biden, Lula reiterate support of LGBTQ+, intersex rights

Two presidents met at the White House on Friday



Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on Feb. 10, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the White House)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Friday in a joint statement issued after they met at the White House reiterated their support of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

“Both leaders noted they continue to reject extremism and violence in politics, condemned hate speech, and reaffirmed their intention to build societal resilience to disinformation and agreed to work together on these issues,” reads the statement. “They discussed common objectives of advancing the human rights agenda through cooperation and coordination on such issues as social inclusion and labor rights, gender equality, racial equity and justice and the protection of the rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”

Biden and Da Silva, among other things, committed to “reinvigorating the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality to mutually benefit marginalized racial, ethnic and indigenous communities, including people of African descent, in both countries.”

The Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry posted the statement on its website.

The meeting took place roughly a month after thousands of supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed their country’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace. The insurrection took place a week after Da Silva’s inauguration.

Da Silva, a member of the leftist Workers’ Party, was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010. He defeated Bolsonaro, a member of the right-wing Liberal Party, in the second round of Brazil’s presidential election that took place last October.

Bolsonaro — who has not publicly acknowledged he lost the election and flew to Florida two days before Da Silva’s inauguration — while in office faced sharp criticism over his rhetoric against LGBTQ+ and intersex Brazilians and other marginalized groups. Bolsonaro, among other things, also said people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are at increased risk for AIDS.

Julian Rodrigues, who coordinated the Workers’ Party’s National Working Group from 2006-2012, during a previous interview with the Washington Blade noted Da Silva in 2014 launched the Health Ministry’s “Brazil without Homophobia” campaign. Da Silva also created the Culture Ministry’s Diversity Secretariat that, among other things, worked to make Brazilian law enforcement more LGBTQ-friendly.

Congresswoman Erika Hilton, a Black travesti and former sex worker who is one of two openly transgender women in the Brazilian Congress, last October after her election told the Blade during an interview in São Paulo that Da Silva’s victory over Bolsonaro is “an important step for democracy.”

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Indigenous Transgender woman in Chile champions her communities

Claudia Ancapán Quilape fought six years for legal recognition



Claudia Ancapán Quilape (Photo courtesy of AJ+ en Español)

SANTIAGO, Chile — Being a Transgender woman in South America is not easy when her average life expectancy in the continent is 35 years. It is even more difficult for those who are of indigenous descent.

Claudia Ancapán Quilape, an indigenous Trans woman with a Huilliche father and a Mapuche mother, has turned her fate around.

Ancapán is 46-years-old and lives in Recoleta in the Chilean capital of Santiago. She is a midwife who works in a private clinic and recently earned a master’s degree in health. Ancapán is working on another master’s degree in gender and will soon begin a doctorate in public policy. 

She is also a spokesperson for Salud Trans para Chile, a Trans rights group, and participates in Santiago’s “LGBTQA+ Roundtable.” 

Ancapán for six years fought to have her identity legally recognized, long before Chile passed its Gender Identity Law. She won that battle on May 20, 2014, and Ancapán later lobbied lawmakers to approve the statute.

Claudia Ancapán Quilape in 2014 won her 6-year legal fight for Chile to legally recognize her gender identity. (Photo courtesy of Claudia Ancapán Quilape)

The road on which Ancapán traveled in order to become a woman has been difficult.

“I am a person who has had to struggle with being a woman, trans and indigenous,” she told the Washington Blade. 

In addition to the discrimination she suffered, a group of neo-Nazis in 2005 attacked her in Valdivia, a city in southern Chile where she was studying. The attack, which could have cost her her life, motivated her to become a queer rights activist.

Ancapán told the Blade her family’s indigenous culture allowed her to be herself in private since she was a child. Outside of her home, however, she had to pretend to be a man.

“My family allowed me to develop myself and that changed my life,” she told the Blade. “I was always a woman to my father, mother and siblings because my parents were not prejudiced against it. However, they protected me from society and I acted like a man once I walked out the door of my house because people outside our culture would not understand.”

Most indigenous groups in South America did not view LGBTQ+ people negatively before European colonization. They included them in their respective communities and respected them.

European colonizers exterminated many of them and buried their culture.

“Christopher Columbus arrived on his ship with religious cultural impositions that were imposed and everything was turned into sin,” Ancapán told the Blade. “If you review the history of our native peoples in Chile, they stand out because they had no conflict with homosexuality or gender identity.”

Since ancestral times there were “machis” called “weyes,” who had an important social and spiritual role within a Mapuche community. They were known for their ambiguous gender roles that could vary from feminine to masculine. “Weyes” could also incorporate feminine elements that had a sacred connotation and were allowed to have same-sex relations with younger men.

The “machi weyes” until the 18th century had a lot of authority and influence because they were recognized as a person with “two souls.”

“Pre-Columbian cultures saw the integrality of the human being linked to nature, so sexuality was an integral part of a whole (person),” explained Ancapán. “So it was not so sinful to fall in love or love a person of the same sex or for a person to present themselves with an identity different from the one they should have biologically.”

“That makes me respect my indigenous background,” she emphasized. “That’s why I am so proud of who I am and of my native belonging.”

According to Elisa Loncón, the former president of Chile’s Constitutional Constitution and a leading expert in Mapudungun, the Mapuche people’s native language, the Mapuche always recognized LGBTQ+ and intersex people through their language. Gay men were categorized as “weyes” and lesbian women were known as “alka zomos.” “Zomo wenxu” meant “woman man,” while “wenxu zomo” translated to “man woman.”

There is currently no indigenous LGBTQ+ or intersex organization in Chile, but Ancapán noted there are queer people who are indigenous.

“I know Diaguita people. I am also aware that there are trans Easter Islanders. I have Mapuche friends who are trans. And lately I made a friendship with an indigenous person who lives with two spirits,” she said. 

Claudia Ancapán Quilape participates in a protest for the rights of queer indigenous people. (Photo courtesy of Claudia Ancapán Quilape)

Ancapán said two-spirit is “a category of gender identity that is not well known in Chile, but it is linked to native people.” 

“In fact, they have always been there, but very little is known about it. This is related to the native peoples of pre-Columbian America, where they saw identity and gender as a way of life where they saw identity and the expression of sexuality as distinct,” she explained to the Blade.

Many people who claim to be two-spirit say they feel neither male nor female, escaping from the traditional gender binary.  

“These manifestations are also in the indigenous peoples of Canada and Mexico,” said Ancapán. “They are known more in the north of North America. Two-spirit is basically spiritually associated, where two identities, two spirits, coexist in you. And that speaks of breaking down the binary system.”

“So these manifestations come from the integral vision of different sexuality and from the acceptance that existed in some cultures about sexual and gender dissidence,” she further stressed. 

“I believe in nature and the power of the elements,” added Ancapán. “I am very close to my culture that talks about the connection with the spiritual of nature and the respect for nature. And from that point of view it linked me to my original people, to my native peoples.”

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Gay man’s murder in Argentina underscores growing hate crimes concerns

Alejo Portillo stabbed 42 times last month in Misiones province



Alejo Portillo (Photo courtesy of Alejo Portillo's Facebook page)

COLONIA AZARA, Argentina — Authorities in Argentina’s Misiones province on Dec. 30 found a 20-year-old gay man dead with 42 stab wounds to his body.

Alejo Portillo was found in the town of Colonia Azara. His murder underscores an increase in hate crimes in Argentina over the last year, even though queer people have more rights than almost any other country in Latin America.        

Data from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Federation of Argentina indicates hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity increased in Argentina in 2022. The group recorded 129 deaths last year, compared to 120 the previous year. 

Portillo’s mother, Alejandra Benítez, found his body after she tirelessly searched for him when the Argentine police refused to help her. She said she sensed that something “horrible had happened to him” from the moment her son disappeared.

The main suspect is a 20-year-old man with whom Portillo was in love and with whom he had a hidden relationship. Argentine media reports indicate Portillo’s body was found naked and showed signs that he had been raped.

Benítez spoke with Misiones Cuatro TV, a local television station.

She said she saw her son for the last time on Dec. 28 when she said goodbye to him after he borrowed his sister’s bicycle. 

“He was invited by someone he knew to the place where my son went,” said Benítez. “He wasn’t going to go to that place for nothing. He knew who he was going to meet.”

She said on Dec. 29 she was already worried because her son did not return to the house where he lived, and he was not answering her WhatsApp messages. Benítez began to search for him herself, even though she did not have access to a vehicle. 

“I don’t know what happened, I can’t understand,” Benítez told Misiones Cuatro TV. “My son was not hurting anyone.” 

A march took place in Colonia Azara a few weeks ago. Participants demanded justice for Portillo’s death and urged authorities to classify it as a hate crime.

Trans Travestis No Binarie Maricas Gay y Lesbianas de Oberá Misiones, a local queer rights group known by the acronym TTNBMGLOM, condemned Portillo’s murder and pointed out “we want to publicly pronounce our voices and feelings in relation to the murder of Ema Portillo (self-perceived as Alejo,) that occurred in the town of Azara-Misiones.”

“In view of the facts, we believe it is important to highlight and underline that the homicide of Alejo Portillo is a case of hate crime,” said TTNBMGLOM on Instagram. “Alejo was stabbed because he was homosexual, because of his orientation and gender identity. For being a person of non-heterosexual identity.”

“Alejo Portillo’s hate crime is clearly a symptom of the reality that LGTB existences and identities live in the province of Misiones, especially removed from the large urban epicenters,” María Alejandro, a nonbinary activist from Misiones, told the Washington Blade, referring to Buenos Aires, the country’s capital.

María Alejandro added “(people with) LGBT identities live in a situation of extreme discrimination, marginalization and violence. And this was what was happening to Alejo in his community. He was one of the few people who publicly expressed his identity and sexual orientation, therefore, he was clearly pushed towards exclusion and discrimination.”

María Alejandro said “the particularity of the crime, the excessive and symbolic violence that provokes Alejo’s death and the deep context of discrimination, stigmatization and marginalization that he lived in his community allow us to sustain that it is a hate crime. Alejo’s body shows clear signs of an act committed with a high degree of violence. There are 42 stab wounds.”

María Alejandro mentioned to Blade that they demand an investigation similar to the case of Evelyn Rojas, a Transgender woman who was murdered by her partner in Misiones. 

Authorities determined Rojas’ murder was a hate crime, and her partner last year received a life sentence.

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South America

Chilean government seeks to implement LGBTQ+, intersex rights agenda

Conservative newspaper incorrectly reported ministry plans legislation



The 'LGBTIQA+ Roundtable'’s first year of work ended on Jan. 6, 2023. Forty-two organizations from across Chile participated. (Photo courtesy of the Women and Gender Equity Ministry)

SANTIAGO, Chile — A conversative Chilean newspaper’s article on Sunday that said the Women and Gender Equity Ministry was preparing to introduce a bill that would create an LGBTQ+ and intersex rights undersecretariat prompted mixed reactions across the country. 

The ministry in 2022 launched its first “LGBTIQA+ Roundtable” that includes representatives of different public institutions, organizations and Chilean LGBTQ+ and intersex activists who are working to improve the quality of life for the country’s queer community that over the last year has seen an increase in attacks and hate crimes.

LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in Chile have gained ground over the last decade.

Civil unions, marriage equality, Transgender rights and an anti-discrimination law are some of the successes that took time to take effect. There is, however, no state institution or public policy that works to ensure historically discriminated LGBTQ+ and intersex Chileans are included. This is why activists feel the “LGBTIQA+ Roundtable” that President Gabriel Boric’s government is promoting is an unprecedented opportunity. 

Jaime Nazar, left, Javier Silva with their two children shortly after they married in Santiago, Chile, on March 10, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Forty-two organizations from across Chile participated in the roundtable during its first year, which culminated on Jan. 6 with the signing of an agreement between the Women and Gender Equity Ministry’s Women and Gender Equality Undersecretariat and the Interior and Public Safety Ministry’s Crime Prevention Undersecretariat to assist people across the country who are victims of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks. The roundtable at the same time also announced it will send a bill to Congress later in 2023 that would expand the ministry’s mandate to ensure “the LGBTIQA+ community is included.”

There has yet to be an announcement on the creation of an LGBTQ+ and intersex undersecretariat.

Most Chilean media outlets covered this report after El Mercurio published it on Sunday. José Antonio Kast, an extreme right-wing politician who is a former presidential candidate, on his Twitter account criticized what turned out to be inaccurate.

“Chile is poorer, more violent and insecure than a year ago and the inept government is dedicated to enlarge the State to deepen its ideological agenda, instead of solving social urgencies,” wrote the Republican Party leader. 

The ministry told the Washington Blade that “the roundtable with organizations from the LGBTIQA+ community has just been finalized.”

“One of the demands is to have an institutionality,” said the ministry. “During 2023 it will be defined which is the progressive path, while the anti-discrimination law is improved at the same time.”

Women and Gender Equity Undersecretary Luz Vidal Huiriqueo on her social media networks said “we met with LGBTQ+ organizations for seven months” and the ministry made “security, employment and health priorities.” 

“On the 1st we advanced in an agreement with (the Crime Prevention Undersecretariat) to properly address and for the long challenges we committed to propose an institutional mechanism,” said Vidal. 

Vidal said in an exclusive interview with the Blade before El Mercurio published its inaccurate report that “finding and giving answers to the demands of the LGBTIQA+ population in Chile is a commitment for President Gabriel Boric’s government that will not be put aside for anything.”

“We at the (Women and Gender Equality Ministry) have embraced the day-to-day needs that this community, in many cases, has to survive,” said Vidal from her office. “That is why, from our ministry, we have created this intergovernmental roundtable to have a fluid and permanent communication with LGBTIQA+ organizations.

Vidal added Boric “instructed us to move from discourse to action.” 

“We have to get to work. We have to implement the agreements,” said Vidal. “We can’t just make pretty announcements and that is our commitment. The commitment we have today is to work for women, for gender equity, for and with the entire population, in favor of all citizens and of those who lack the presence of the State.”

Chilean authorities after signing an agreement to provide additional government assistance to hate crimes victims. (Photo courtesy of the Women and Gender Equity Ministry)

The undersecretary told the Blade the need to incorporate the queer community into the ministry’s work is important because “the State, as of today, has no powers to specifically address the LGBTQ+ population.”

“We need to create a progressive path that, whether an institutional or other figure, allows us to implement public policies,” she said.

That supposed institutionality was the one that sparked controversy last Sunday and it will not be an easy path, regardless of the mechanism that Boric’s government ultimately chooses to implement.

“I think it is not going to be an easy process,” said Vidal. “It is not going to be a project that we can say, we are going to take them out at the end of the year, that is clear to us. Even today it is difficult to move forward with projects or the work that the ministry is doing because we currently have a Congress with political forces that are against inclusion and respect for diversity. This is present in our Congress, and it is also present in several Latin American countries.” 

Emilia Schneider, Chile’s first Trans congresswoman, on the other hand told the Blade that “it seems to me that the announcement of an institutional framework for the LGBTI community within the Women’s Ministry, and also in what has been working with the Justice Ministry to advance in an institutional framework against discrimination, regarding the reform of the Anti-Discrimination Law are two fundamental steps to advance in dignity and rights for sexual diversities and dissidences.” 

Schneider said it is important “to make a permanent change in the State, which recognizes the importance of having a space that responds to the needs of the queer population and takes charge of combating inequality, discrimination and violence to which our community is exposed.” 

“It seems to me that this is one of the most important commitments, which if realized would be a fundamental legacy of this government in matters of sexual diversity and dissidence,” she said.

Ignacia Oyarzun, coordinator of public policies for Asociación OTD Chile, the country’s most important Trans rights organization, said the implementation of an institutional framework to advance LGBTQ and intersex rights “is an advance that goes in the direction of establishing what will be a trans labor quota to achieve a greater integration of the community in society.”

Oyarzun noted employers do not hire people who are Trans, or fire them without reason. This lack of employment opportunities, according to Asociación OTD Chile, makes trans people more vulnerable to violence.

Jorge Muñoz of Movimiento Organizado de Gays, Lesbianas, Trans y Heterosexuales (MOGALETH) in Puerto Montt, a city that is roughly 640 miles south of the capital of Santiago, also participated in the roundtable. Muñoz told the Blade that “any approach from the central power to civil society, and especially to the regions, is positive.” 

“In this context, we consider it an advance in terms of the demands of the collective in the struggle for the recognition of the historical violation of our rights,” said Muñoz. “The State’s recognition of mistreatment and hate speech towards dissidents has historically been centralized. The regions where we also suffer harassment, mistreatment, difficulties in access to health, education and work have been relegated throughout history. In this sense, what we value most is the recognition of our demands in the territorial context.”

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Brazilian LGBTQ+ lawmakers threatened during conference

VoteLGBT organized Brasília gathering



LGBTQ+ elected officials from across Brazil attended a conference in Brasília, Brazil, last week. (Photo by Gui Molhallem)

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — The LGBTQ Victory Institute on Tuesday condemned the threat that Brazilian lawmakers received during a conference in which it participated in the country’s capital.

A press release notes São Paulo Legislative Assemblywoman-elect Thainara Faria, a Black bisexual woman who is a member of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party, on Jan. 20 “received a threatening, racist and LGBT-phobic email that indicated that they physical integrity of the representatives-elect at our event was at risk.” 

Faria is one of the 18 openly LGBTQ+ congressional and state legislative candidates who won election last October. She, along with Transgender Congresswomen Erika Hilton and Duda Salabert and 11 of the other elected officials, attended the first-of-its-kind conference that took place in Brasília.

São Paulo Assemblywoman Thainara Faria speaks at a conference in Brasília, Brazil. (Photo by Gui Molhallem)

The Victory Institute notes VoteLGBT, the main organizer that seeks to increase the number of LGBTQ+ and intersex people in Brazilian politics, reached out to Fábio Félix, a gay member of the Socialism and Liberty Party who is a member of the Federal District’s Legislative Chamber, and Congresswoman Erika Kokay, a member of the Workers Party who represents the Federal District, after Faria received the threat. Félix and Kokay then contacted local authorities who provided conference participants with a police escort. 

Officers patrolled the conference venue, and organizers increased private security. The Victory Institute also notes two Brazilian government ministries — the Human Rights and Citizenship Ministry and the Justice and Public Safety Ministries — have begun to investigate the threat.

The Equal Rights in Action Fund co-organized the conference along with VotoLGBT and the Victory Institute. Associaçao Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais (National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals), a Brazilian Trans rights group known by the acronym ANTRA, and Associação Brasileira de Lésbicas, Gays, Bissexuais, Travestis, Transexuais e Intersexos (Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Travestis, Transsexuals and Intersex People) are among the other groups that sponsored the gathering.

Faria, along with the other elected officials who attended the conference and the groups that organized and sponsored it, in a joint statement said “fascism uses terror in an attempt to paralyze and weaken our fight.”

“They attack us because of our project is powerful,” it reads. “We understand that the best response to this attack — in addition to quickly protecting the threatened representative, reinforcing the security at the event and contacting the competent authorities — is to continue with our agenda and scheduled programming.”

The conference took place less than two weeks after thousands of former President Jair Bolsonaro supporters stormed the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace.

Bolsonaro, a member of the right-wing Liberal Party, sought to discredit the country’s electoral system ahead of last October’s presidential election. Da Silva defeated him in the second round, but Bolsonaro never publicly acknowledged he lost. Bolsonaro flew to Florida two days before Da Silva’s inauguation, which took place on Jan. 1.

Both Hilton and Salabert received threats during their respective campaigns.

Hilton, a Black travesti and former sex worker who was a member of the São Paulo Municipal Council before she won her seat in Congress, acknowledged concerns about her safety when she spoke with the Washington Blade shortly after her election. A security guard stood a few feet away from her while she spoke with this reporter at a pro-Da Silva rally in São Paulo’s Praça Roosevelt.

“I am afraid, but I think that this fear is not going to be able to stop me,” Hilton told the Blade. “It is the fuel that motivates me.”

Former Congressman Jean Wyllys, who is openly gay and a vocal Bolsonaro critic, in 2019 resigned and fled the country after he received death threats. 

Rio de Janeiro Municipal Councilwoman Marielle Franco, a bisexual woman and single mother of African descent who grew up in a favela near the city’s international airport, and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were murdered on March 14, 2018. Bolsonaro was not president at the time, but one of the two former police officers who have been arrested and charged with the murders lived in the same condominium complex in Rio’s exclusive Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in which the now former president lives. Franco’s widow, Rio Municipal Councilwoman Mônica Benício, last March described this fact to the Blade as “just a coincidence.” 

A Brazilian television station on March 14, 2022, reports on the fourth anniversary of Rio Municipal Councilwoman Marielle Franco‘s murder. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

‘We will continue fighting for a democracy for all’

The joint statement that Hilton and the other conference participants signed states the threats against them is “a good example of how political violence works, seeking to silence our voices.” 

“Despite the sabotage of many different actors, including some in their own parties, LGBT+ candidates received more than 3.5 million votes in 2022,” it reads. “Traditional politics needs our voices, because we do not advocate for LGBT+ issues alone; we propose innovative public policies to fight hunger, lack of housing, discrimination and all of the evils plaguing our people.”  

“LGBT+ political strategies will continue to flourish in all spaces, despite threats to any elected representative,” adds the statement. “Attacks will be met with investigations and accountability. United and strong, we will continue fighting for a democracy for all.”  

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South America

Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazilian Supreme Court, Congress and presidential palace

LGBTQ and intersex advocacy groups condemn ‘coup’



The Brazilian Congress on Oct. 1, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Thousands of supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday stormed the country’s Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court.

Videos from Brasília, the Brazilian capital, show Bolsonaro supporters, many of whom were wearing yellow and green Brazilian soccer jerseys, entered the three buildings and ransacked them after overwhelming police officers.

Media reports indicate it took several hours for authorities to regain control of Three Powers Square in which Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court are located. CNN Brasil notes at least 400 people have been arrested, and Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has removed Federal District Gov. Ibaneis Rocha from his post. Additional reports also indicate several journalists were injured during what has been described as a “coup” and “terrorist acts” that took place two days after the U.S. commemorated the second anniversary of Jan. 6.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in Brasília on Jan. 1.

Da Silva, a member of the leftist Worker’s Party, was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010. He defeated Bolsonaro, a member of the right-wing Liberal Party who represented Rio de Janeiro in Congress for nearly three decades before he became president in 2018, in the second round of the country’s presidential election that took place on Oct. 30, 2022.

Bolsonaro ahead of the election sought to discredit Brazil’s electoral system. 

“The Brazilian presidential election has fueled a misinformation emergency that has tipped the LGBT+ community into a boiling pot of fake news,” wrote Egerton Neto, a Brazilian LGBTQ+ and intersex activist who is also an Aspen New Voices Fellow and manager of Oxford University’s XX, in an op-ed the Washington Blade published on Oct. 28, 2022, two days before Da Silva defeated Bolsonaro. “This is part of a broader global problem and we need a global plan to stop it.”

Bolsonaro, who has yet to publicly acknowledge he lost the election, flew to Florida on Dec. 30, two days before Da Silva’s inauguration.

Da Silva, who was visiting the flood-ravaged city of Araraquara in São Paulo state on Sunday, described those who stormed Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court as “fascist fanatics” and ordered the federal government to take control of security in the Federal District in which Brasília is located. Da Silva in his nationally televised comments also accused Bolsonaro of inciting his supporters after the election.

Brazilian federal prosecutors have asked the Supreme Court to issue an arrest warrant for now former Federal District Security Secretary Anderson Torres, who was Brazil’s Justice and Public Security Minister from March 2021 until Bolsonaro’s term ended, and “other public agents responsible for acts and omissions.” 

Bolsonaro in a series of tweets condemned Sunday’s events.

“Peaceful demonstrations, in a legal way, are part of democracy,” he tweeted. “However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those carried out by the left in 2013 and 2017, go against the rule.”

“Throughout my mandate; I have always been within the four lines of the Constitution: Respecting and defending the laws, democracy, transparency and our sacred freedom,” added Bolsonaro. “I also repudiate the accusations, without evidence, attributed to me by the current head of the Executive (Branch) of Brazil.”

President Joe Biden, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and Chilean President Gabriel Boric are among the world leaders who condemned Sunday’s assault. LGBTQ+ and intersex rights groups in Brazil echoed these condemnations.

“We express our most vehement disgust at this attempt and call on the competent authorities to enforce the law for all those criminals who attacked democracy on Jan. 8, 2023,” said Associaçao Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais (National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals), a Brazilian Transgender rights group known by the acronym ANTRA, in a statement. “We cannot tolerate any type of attack and especially in this dimension. May the arm of the law also reach (the funders), creators and those who put it into practice. We remain on the right side of history, the side of democracy.”

Toni Reis, president of Aliança Nacional LGBTI+, a Brazilian LGBTQ+ and intersex advocacy group, in a WhatsApp message to the Blade described the assault as “horrible.” Erika Hilton, one of two Trans women elected to Congress last October, described those who carried out the assault as “terrorists.”

“Terrorists invade the Supreme Court and destroy everything,” she said in a tweet that included a video of Bolsonaro supporters inside the Supreme Court. “They also invaded the Planalto (Presidential) Palace and Congress. The involvement of the Federal District’s government in the destruction of Brazil’s capital is evident. Everyone has to be punished.”

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South America

Lula takes office in Brazil

Anti-LGBTQ+ Jair Bolsonaro did not attend inauguration



Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva after his inauguration in Brasília, Brazil, on Jan. 1, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Lula's Twitter page)

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday took office in his country’s capital of Brasília.

Hundreds of thousands of Da Silva’s supporters traveled to Brasília for his inauguration. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is among the digitaries who attended.

“Today we begin a new chapter in Brazil’s history,” tweeted Da Silva after his inauguration.

Da Silva, a member of the leftist Worker’s Party, was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010.

Da Silva in 2017 received a 9 1/2 year prison sentence after his conviction on money laundering and corruption charges that stemmed from Operation Car Wash. The Brazilian Supreme Court in November 2019 ordered Da Silva’s release.

His precedessor, Jair Bolsonaro, a member of the right-wing Liberal Party who represented Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian Congress for nearly three decades, took office in 2018.

The former Brazilian Army captain faced sharp criticism because of his rhetoric against LGBTQ+ and intersex Brazilians and other groups. Bolsonaro’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic also sparked outrage.

Da Silva, who publicly supported LGBTQ+ and intersex rights during his campaign, last October defeated Bolsonaro in the second round of the country’s presidential election.

Bolsonaro sought to discredit Brazil’s electoral system. The now former president, who has yet to publicly acknowledge his loss, on Dec. 30 gave an emotional speech to his supporters before he flew to Florida. 

Bolsonaro did not attend Da Silva’s inauguration.

“In a sense it’s good,” one source in Brazil told the Washington Blade on Dec. 31. “[Bolsonaro]’s moving out of the way.”

Two Transgender congresswoman take office

Two Transgender congresswomen — Erika Hilton and Duda Salabert —took office on Monday. Rio Grande do Sul Gov. Eduardo Leite, a member of the centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party who is the country’s first openly gay state governor, also began his second term in office.

Leite last October defeated Onyx Lorenzoni, a member of the right-wing Liberal Party who is Bolsonaro’s former chief-of-staff.

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South America

Global efforts to ban conversion therapy gain traction

Subjecting a person to conversion therapy will be unsuccessful and can create very serious mental health issues



Members of the Global Equality Caucus in Latin America meet with Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ and intersex issues, in November. (Photo courtesy of Global Equality Caucus)

SANTIAGO, Chile – Efforts to ban so-called conversion therapy gained significant traction around the world in 2022.

Only four countries at the end of 2021 had explicit laws that banned the widely discredited practice. Numerous jurisdictions around the world in 2022 have enacted legislation or taken executive action. The Global Equality Caucus, an international network of lawmakers who have committed themselves to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, has driven many of these efforts.

Global Equality Caucus Vice President Tamara Adrián, who is also the first openly transgender woman elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly, told Washington Blade that “any compulsive therapy to modify sexual orientation is contrary to human rights. Subjecting a person to conversion therapy will be unsuccessful and can create very serious mental health problems, as these therapies use invasive behavioral methods to try to modify sexual orientation.”

“The consequence is that no one modifies their sexual orientation but may become unable to have relationships with any person and that is the reality in this matter. They are a mechanism intended to erase LGBT people from the earth,” Adrián added. 

Tamara Adrián, the first openly transgender woman elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly, speaks at the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 3, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Canada and France in January introduced LGBTQ-inclusive bills to ban conversion therapy for minors and adults, regardless of perceived “consent,” in clinical and religious settings. Anyone found guilty of offering or practicing conversion therapy is subject to a fine or jail time.

New Zealand in February passed the Conversion Practices Prohibition Act with the same breadth of protections as Canada and France. And in May 2022, following an amendment to the Health for All Act, lawmakers in Greece passed measures explicitly prohibiting conversion therapy for persons under 18 and “non-consenting” adults.

A law that lawmakers in the Australian state in Victoria passed in 2021 took effect in February. The law, first proposed in 2020, has been hailed as a model for legislation to ban conversion therapy and certainly inspired New Zealand’s ban.

Several Mexican states also banned conversion practices this year, following the nation’s first prohibition that Mexico City approved in 2020. Lawmakers in Jalisco, Baja California, Puebla, Hidalgo and Sonora states approved measures to ban them.

The British government’s decision to support a trans-exclusive bill to ban conversion therapy prompted advocacy groups to boycott an LGBTQ and intersex rights conference that was to have taken place in London during Pride Month. The conference was later cancelled.

Nick Herbert, a member of the British House of Lords who advised then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson on LGBTQ and intersex issues, is a member of the Global Equality Caucus.

Indirect conversion therapy bans are “when countries do not explicitly prohibit them through legislation, however, they are not allowed from a mental health standpoint,” Global Equality Caucus Membership and Programs Coordinator Erick Ortiz told the Blade. 

Israel’s Health Ministry in February issued a directive that said medical professionals are prohibited from offering, advertising or performing conversion therapy, and those who violate the ban could face punishment. The Knesset in 2020 passed a conversion therapy ban bill, but lawmakers have yet to codify the directive.

India’s National Medical Commission the same month in a filing with the Madras High Court clarified that any licensed medical professional in the country who is found guilty of offering conversion therapy can face prosecution for professional misconduct. India, like Israel, does not explicitly ban the practice throughout the country, but the filing reaffirmed a 2021 court order that prohibits any attempt to “cure or change” the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people.

Vietnam’s Health Ministry in 2021 issued guidance to clarify that homosexuality and transgender identities are not considered curable diseases, and that doctors should not engage in coercive treatments that attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Paraguay in November joined Argentina and Uruguay in becoming the third South American country to amend its mental health law to prohibit a mental health diagnosis on the basis of “sexual choice or identity.”

Lawmakers in several countries in 2022 introduced bills to ban conversion therapy; but they have not been passed because of legislative processes, timelines and elections. 

Icelandic MP Hanna Katrin Fridriksson, a Global Equality Caucus member, in January introduced a bill in the Althing (Iceland’s Parliament,) but it has not yet progressed. Dutch Sen. Boris Dittrich, helped champion a bill in his country’s Parliament, but it was referred to committee. A bill in Cyprus also reached the committee stage and is likely to be passed in 2023.

The Icelandic Parliament in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Former Colombian Congressman Mauricio Toro introduced a bill, but it was not passed before the new Congress took office in July. A group of lawmakers from various political parties have reintroduced the bill.

Norwegian Equality Minister Anette Trettebergstuen introduced a bill proposing a total ban on conversion therapy, going beyond plans the previous government first announced in 2021. Lawmakers are currently reviewing the measure. The Belgian Cabinet has approved a similar proposal, but the lower house of the country’s Parliament has not given its final approval. 

The Mexican Senate after nearly four years of stalemate approved a federal bill after consultations with Yaaj Mexico, an LGBTQ and intersex rights group, and talks at the Global Equality Council summit that took place in Mexico City earlier this year. The measure will take effect once the Mexican Chamber of Deputies approves it, which will likely take effect in 2023.

Several other countries have expressed they support conversion therapy bans, but their governments or congressmen have yet to submit a parliamentary bill. They include the Ireland, Sweden, Finland and some states in Australia. 

Peruvian Congresswoman Susel Paredes will lead a bill to ban conversion therapies in her country 

“Congresswoman Susel Paredes is waiting for the right moment to present the project due to the political problems Peru is facing,” Ortiz said.

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South America

New Peruvian president’s views on LGBTQ+, intersex issues unclear

Dina Boluarte succeeded Pedro Castillo after self-coup, impeachment



Peruvian President Dina Boluarte speaks on state television. (Screen capture via TVPeru YouTube)

LIMA, Peru — It has been a volatile week in Peru. 

The country has a new president, Dina Boluarte, after former President Pedro Castillo’s attempted self-coup. But since Boluarte was sworn in, unrest and violent protests have erupted and continued unabated around the country. Many are therefore wondering if Peru’s first female president will remain in office for much longer. 

Castillo on Dec. 7 announced he was dissolving Congress. 

Castillo made this announcement on the same day that Congress was scheduled to hold a vote on his impeachment. While it wasn’t clear if there were enough votes to impeach the embattled former president; Castillo was swiftly voted out of office after his announcement with 101 votes in favor, six against and 10 abstentions.

Boluarte, who was Castillo’s vice president, was immediately sworn in. She is Peru’s sixth president in five years, and her ascendance has come to signify the ongoing political instability that has become characteristic of the Andean nation. 

Castillo supporters, mostly poor and indigenous Peruvians, have since taken to streets in every big city in Peru to demand Castillo’s reinstatement, Congress’ dissolution and new elections. These protests have led to violent clashes with police that have left at least seven dead and dozens more injured. 

Lima’s Pride March Collective, composed of many of the city’s LGBTQ and intersex organizations, has released a statement condemning “excessive force” by Peruvian police against protesters. The statement also calls for dialogue between the Executive Branch and civil and political leaders of the protests.

Despite Boluarte being a former member of Castillo’s government, she is viewed as a traitor among Castillo supporters. Hashtags such as #DinaRenunciaYa and #DinaAsesina have been trending on Twitter, the latter hashtag accusing the president of being responsible for the death of the protesters. 

Castillo, meanwhile, who is currently being held by police, is calling his detention a “kidnapping” and is accusing Boluarte of being a “usurper.” He is not alone in not recognizing the new president. The governments of Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina and Colombia have all come out in support of Castillo and have refused to recognize Boluarte as Peru’s new president. 

In response to the ongoing protests, Boluarte proposed moving up the next general election to April 2024. It was previously scheduled for 2026. But protesters are not satisfied and demonstrations across the country have not ceased as of Wednesday. Boluarte’s government as a result has declared a 30-day state of emergency for the entire country.

Promsex, one of Peru’s most prominent LGBTQ+ and intersex rights groups, addressed Peru’s new president in a statement posted to Twitter. 

“We demand that the Executive Branch guarantee the safety of all people, including that of law enforcement personnel, and that there be no more deaths in the democratic and legitimate exercise of the right to protest,” said Promsex.

Castillo, who took office in July 2021, during his campaign expressed his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples. Castillo further stressed that LGBTQ+ and intersex issues would not be “a priority” for his government.

Congressman Guido Bellindo, an indigenous man who was briefly a member of Castillo’s Cabinet, in a 2019 Facebook post praised former Cuban President Fidel Castro and specifically his 1963 comments in which he said “the (Cuban) revolution does not need hairdressers and work will make them men. The ‘new man’ cannot be a faggot. The socialist society cannot allow this type of degenerates.”

For now, it seems that Boluarte will remain in power. Little is known, however, about the former vice president and many of her political stances. Boluarte, however, differs from both Castillo and Peru Libre, the political party from which she and the former president were both elected. 

Boluarte has said she is against “a generalized nationalization of the economy and government intervention in the media.” She has also previously commented that although she is a leftist, she strives not to be sectarian or totalitarian.

Boluarte’s views on most social issues, let alone LGBTQ+ and intersex rights, are also unknown. This lack of clarity has led some activists to worry.

Boluarte in 2020 had an altercation with Marina Kapoor, a Transgender activist. 

Kapoor says Boluarte repeatedly called her “sir” and referred to her using male pronouns. In 2021, when Boluarte was appointed Social Development and Inclusion Minister, Kapoor came forward with the allegations of this mistreatment by saying: “If you say, Mrs. Boluarte, that you are going to defend women … what did you do with me then, did you not violate me?” 

Boluarte has never apologized for the incident.  

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