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Mexico

Baja California officially legalizes same-sex marriage

Mexican state’s constitution amended in June

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Tijuana is a Mexican border city that is in the country's Baja California state. Same-sex couples can low legally marry in Baja California. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

MEXICALI, Mexico — Same-sex couples in Mexico’s Baja California state can now legally marry without a court order.

The Baja California Congress in June removed an amendment from the state constitution that banned marriage for same-sex couples. Three of the state’s five municipalities — Tijuana, Mexicali and Tecate — subsequently approved the amendment.

The state’s Official Journal published the amendment on Sunday.

“We are able to finally say that marriage equality in Baja California is the law,” tweeted Maky Pollorena, a Mexicali-based activist who works with Centro Comunitario de Bienestar (Cobina), a local LGBTQ advocacy group, on Monday. “This paper is the result of many years of struggle and tears. (It is) one step of many that we have taken to make sure that our state and country is diverse and inclusive. The historical debt does not end here.”

Baja California borders California and a small portion of southwestern Arizona.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Mexico City since 2010.

The Mexican Supreme Court in 2015 ruled laws that ban same-sex marriage are “discriminatory.” Chihuahua, Jalisco, Oaxaca and Quintana Roo are among the Mexican states with marriage equality, but same-sex couples are still unable to legally tie the knot throughout the entire country.

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Mexico

Authorities in Puerto Vallarta abruptly shutter LGBTQ hotel

The hotel’s American owner, Paul Crist, is known for his support of the LGBTQ community. The shutdown came days before Puerto Vallarta Pride

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Mexican police stood outside Hotel Mercurio May 17 as items such as patio furniture were removed after they shut it down. (Screenshot/PR Vagabond)

By Ed Walsh, BAR Contributor | PUERTO VALLARTA – Mexican authorities abruptly and without warning shut down a longtime LGBTQ hotel in Puerto Vallarta Friday night, leaving some guests with their belongings tossed in the street.

Hotel Mercurio had been in operation for 22 years in the heart of the resort city’s gay-popular Zona Romantica neighborhood, south of downtown.

The hotel’s American owner, Paul Crist, is well known for his work in support of the LGBTQ community. The shutdown came days before Puerto Vallarta Pride, scheduled to run May 22-26.

The May 17 forced closure was apparently the result of a long simmering lawsuit stemming from the sale of the property from a German owner to Crist in 2002. In an open letter published by the Puerto Vallarta LGBTQ publication Out and About Puerto Vallarta on Sunday, May 19, Crist wrote that his financial issues cascaded as a result of the previous hotel owner granting him a two-year mortgage to pay off part of the $400,000 purchase price.

Crist wrote that the owner eventually refused to give him the receipts he needed to take the tax deduction for the mortgage payments. Crist believes that may have been done so that the previous owner could avoid paying taxes on those payments.

“I tried to renegotiate regarding his willingness to follow tax law, but he was adamant,” Crist wrote. “And I refused to pay without a factura [invoice] for each payment. I tried to report him to SAT, the Mexican tax authorities, and nothing ever came of it. And then he sued me for non-payment in 2005.”

Crist stated that he owns everything in the property, including the furniture and appliances that were removed from the hotel, and has instructed his hotel manager to sell everything and distribute the proceeds to his 24 employees.

Crist added that his attorney believes that the eviction was carried out illegally and is drawing up papers to fight it but Crist, 66, said he was not optimistic he would prevail.

“I have failed my staff most of all,” Crist wrote. “I have failed my hotel clients. I have failed my community. I have failed the people I love the most, especially my husband, who I had hoped to leave a great legacy. I feel deeply humiliated, very, very tired, and very much a failure.”

Jorge Gonzalez, who had worked for two decades at the hotel’s bar affectionately called “Jorge’s Bar,” told the Bay Area Reporter that there was no warning about the closure.

“We are just a little in shock,” Gonzalez said in a Facebook voice message. “Everybody’s dealing with this in their own way.”

Hotel Mercurio, in the heart of the LGBTQ-popular Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
(Photo by Michael Williams)

He said multiple police officers first approached the hotel’s receptionist and the word circulated back to him at the bar that they were locking the hotel and everyone must go. He said they took everything out of the hotel, including the refrigerators. Photos and videos on social media show furniture, including mattresses, being removed from the hotel.

Gonzalez said it reminded him of the last scene in the “Friends” TV show where everything was emptied from the apartment where most of the series was set.

Another longtime Mercurio employee, Briam Robles, told the B.A. R. that the shutdown happened on his day off and he didn’t know if he would get severance pay.

“I was awaiting for the answer of the hotel, afterwards will see what I gonna do,” he texted to the B.A.R. over a Facebook direct message.

San Francisco resident Michael Williams, who was visiting Puerto Vallarta, witnessed the scene outside the hotel when he went to stop by on Saturday morning to say hello to his friends who work there.

“I thought they were remodeling. Then I learned they had closed Mercurio without warning. All guests and belongings were put on the street. The owner’s keys were confiscated. I went by and saw men tearing down everything in the lobby and the kitchen was completely gone.”

A guest with the handle PR Vagabond wrote on Tripadvisor.com that he was staying at the hotel when the closure happened. He had paid in advance when he arrived at the hotel, with four more days left on his stay when he was told to get out. He posted photos of the police action on Tripadvisor.

“Dozens of people were removing everything, furniture, washing machine, everything, and guests were simply told to move out immediately. Police were supervising the entire process,” he wrote.

In a Facebook post Sunday afternoon, Crist linked to his open letter. He wrote in part, “I will not be on social media from here forward, will not be in public at all, and will not be responding to messages and phone calls.

“If you wish, and are able to help my staff, and by that I mean some money, please contact Gabriel Bojorquez by Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp (+52) 322 135 8048,” he added. “Please do not flood him with messages of concern and help if he needs ‘someone to talk to.’

“And please, no need to respond to this post,” Crist wrote. “I appreciate your love and concern. But I cannot respond right now.”

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The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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Mexico

Mexican Senate passes bill to ban conversion therapy

Measure passed by 77-4 vote margin

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Mexico's Presidential Palace in Mexico City on July 18, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy in the country.

Yaaj México, a Mexican LGBTQ+ rights group, on X noted the measure passed by a 77-4 vote margin with 15 abstentions.  The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Mexico’s congress, approved the bill last month that, among other things, would subject conversion therapy practitioners to between two and six years in prison and fines.

The Senate on its X account described conversion therapy as “practices that have incentivized the violation of human rights of the LGBTTTIQ+ community.”

“The Senate moved (to) sanction therapies that impede or annul a person’s orientation or gender identity,” it said. “There are aggravating factors when the practices are done to minors, older adults and people with disabilities.”

Mexico City and the states of Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Jalisco and Sonora are among the Mexican jurisdictions that have banned the discredited practice. 

The Senate in 2022 passed a conversion therapy ban bill, but the House of Deputies did not approve it. It is not immediately clear whether President Andrés Manuel López Obrador supports the ban.

Canada, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, France, and New Zealand are among the countries that ban conversion therapy. Virginia, California, and D.C. are among the U.S. jurisdictions that prohibit the practice for minors.  

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Mexico

Transfeminicide violence in Mexico: At least five Trans women killed in first two weeks of 2024

Activists have criticized public officials over hate speech

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(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

A Spanish version of this article can be found here.

MEXICO CITY — Gaby Ortiz, renowned Trans stylist in Hidalgo, an unidentified Trans woman in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Vanesa, a Trans woman in Coatzacoalcos, Miriam Ríos activist and Trans commissioner of the Movimiento Ciudadano political party in Michoacán, and Samantha Fonseca, a Trans activist and human rights defender in Mexico City, have been murdered in the first 15 days of the year.

People belonging to LGBTTTIQ+ groups protested outside the National Palace against the escalation of violence against Trans people and hate crimes.

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

Victoria Sámano, a Trans activist, denounced the hate speeches of leaders, officials and public representatives targeting Trans people and urged the president to condemn this violence.

“We demand that, in your capacity as representative of this country, you take a stand against the violence that Trans people experience.” – Victoria Sámano, Trans activist and founder of LLECA (Listening to the Street)

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

The National Observatory of Hate Crimes against LGBTQI+ People defines hate crimes as culturally founded and systematically and socially widespread behaviors of contempt against a person or group of people based on negative prejudice or stigma related to an undeserved disadvantage, and which has the effect of harming your fundamental rights and freedoms, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

“We are not only demonstrating for these deaths, we also demand that the Comprehensive Trans Law be approved as a matter of urgency, which seeks to influence education, housing, health and work for trans people. We demand that all these legislative initiatives that favor people of sexual diversity be unblocked. And that Morena, even though the majority in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, have remained silent, they have not done anything, they do not have a clear position against violence towards LGBTTTIQ+ people … even when they have boasted of being a left-wing and progressive party throughout the 6-year period and that they support vulnerable populations.” – Victoria Sámano, Trans activist and founder of LLECA (Listening to the Street) 

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

This wave of transfemicides occurs in a context of escalating violence and attacks against LGBTTTIQ+ people, including activist and public figures such as Nicté Chávez or Paola Suárez, and the proliferation of hate speech against Trans women and LGBTTTIQ+ people by public officials. According to data from Letra Ese, in 2023 there were 58 murders of LGBTTTIQ+ people, 35 were Trans women.

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Mexico

Puerto Vallarta’s LGBTQ center SETAC closes

SETAC Executive Director Paco Arjona did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the Puerto Vallarta LGBTQ health center

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Puerto Vallarta's LGBTQ center, SETAC clinic shown here in 2022. (Photo Credit: SETAC Puerto Vallarta)

By Ed Walsh, BAR Contributor | PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico – Puerto Vallarta’s LGBTQ center, SETAC, which focused on health and wellness and ran the city’s PrEP program, effectively closed late last month amid financial struggles and allegations from employees of mistreatment and management.

Meanwhile, gay business owners in the Mexican city have already launched an effort to raise money to continue to provide some of the services offered by the center.

SETAC stands for Solidaridad Ed Thomas Asociacion Civil. It is named for Ed Thomas, a former Bostonian and one of the center’s founders who retired in Puerto Vallarta. The center was founded in 2009.

Paul Crist, owner of Hotel Mercurio, is one of those leading the effort to have the center continue services.

“Our first priority will be to continue providing PrEP medication (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and the required laboratory testing to the approximately 700 individuals that were on the now-terminated program at SETAC,” Crist wrote on his Facebook page Saturday, January 6.

“A group of business and community leaders, including myself, are working very quickly to put services in place and to set up a new nonprofit association,” Crist added. “There is still much work ahead but we’ve made tremendous progress in just a few days. We have a plan for moving forward, an initial budget, a preliminary draft (still in development) for organization statutes, and mechanisms for patients and the community to contact us.”

Emails to SETAC, including to Executive Director Paco Arjona, were not returned by press time. After the publication of this story online, Arjona responded to a Facebook message.

“SETAC is not closed, you will hear soon about all, gracias,” Arjona wrote.

SETAC Executive Director Paco Arjona, shown here in 2018, did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the Puerto Vallarta LGBTQ health center.
(Photo Credit: Ed Walsh)

Business owner and longtime SETAC supporter Mike Owens volunteered to restructure the organization last year. He told the Bay Area Reporter this week that he left his work with the organization.

“Unfortunately, I resigned from my involvement with SETAC two or three months ago,” Owens wrote in response to a Facebook message from the B.A.R. “So, I’ll have to refer you back to Paco (Arjona), the executive director of SETAC. I think what you will find is he will tell you SETAC is not closed. I will just say that there are a lot of things happening behind the scenes, but it’s not my place to discuss publicly.”

An open letter from SETAC employees that was published last week in the LGBTQ magazine Out and About Puerto Vallarta read in part:

“Some of the staff were fired, others decided to resign due to lack of payment, and the staff who continue to have worked, have done so without receiving their respective biweekly payments,” the statement read. “Neither those who resigned nor those who were fired have received the corresponding compensation. There are many other problems as well, all of which made for a difficult and harmonious workplace.

“This unfortunate situation was triggered as a result of what we think is a lack of direction, decision making that was incongruent with the situation, absence of the board of directors, and lack of financial resources. The entire team actively expressed interest and concern in this regard for more than one year, with team members proposing ideas and activities for fundraising, which were sabotaged with actions and threats by the director and legal representative,” the statement read.

In his Facebook post, Crist linked to an article in Out and About Puerto Vallarta that noted that a temporary space has been donated inside Thrive IV & MedSpa on Basilio Badillo 277-A, in the Zona Romantica neighborhood so that the medically supervised PrEP treatments can continue. Organizers hoped that that temporary space would be operating by this week.

In a news release issued January 6, Jet De La Isla, who runs a gay hostel and boat tour and administers the very popular Puerto Vallarta Gays Facebook page, wrote on Facebook in response to a post reposted by Crist and gay other business leaders:

“If you were previously enrolled in the SETAC program you can use the following WhatsApp number 322 128 67 93 and our contact form to follow up with your appointments. New enrollees can also use the contact form to be signed up for new registrations.

“Current patients will be asked for a $300 MXN ($18 U.S.) monthly optional donation, as it was with the previous program,” he added.

The post included that people can sign up to volunteer, donate, or stay informed at casajojofoundation.org.

The Facebook post stated that for U.S. donors Casa JoJo is a tax deduction because the foundation is headquartered in Texas and is a registered nonprofit under section 501(c)3 of the U.S. Tax Code. When donating people should mention “Vallarta’s Gay+ Health Clinic.” People can donate using the one-time donate button found at the bottom of the website landing page.

The post concluded by listing the effort’s organizing committee members: Mikel Joseph Alvarez, treasurer of the new group and owner of Thrive IV & MedSpa; Crist of Hotel Mercurio; Jet De La Isla; Owens, who owns Studs Bear Bar; Casa Cupula owner Don Pickens; interim manager Fer Bolanos Cruz; and medical advisers Dr. Alain Hernandez and Dr. Galileo Vargas. The post noted major support from Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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Non-binary judge found stabbed to death in their Mexican home

Jesús Ociel Baena was Latin America’s first nonbinary judge. They were found dead in their home on Nov. 13, 2023

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Jesús Ociel Baena was Latin America's first nonbinary judge. They were found dead in their home in Mexico's Aguascalientes state on Nov. 13, 2023. (Photo credit: Baena/Facebook)

AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Authorities in Mexico’s Aguascalientes state on Monday found Latin America’s first nonbinary judge dead in their home.

The Associated Press reported Jesús Ociel Baena’s body was discovered next to another person who media reports and an LGBTQ rights group identified as their partner. State prosecutor Jesús Figueroa Ortega told reporters during a press conference the two victims showed signs they had been stabbed.

Aguascalientes state is located in central Mexico.

The AP reported Baena in October 2022 became a magistrate on Aguascalientes’ electoral court. Baena in June was one of the first people in Mexico to receive a passport with a nonbinary gender marker.  

Violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation remain commonplace in Mexico. 

The AP reported Baena in the weeks before their death had received death threats. Federal Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez on Monday said it remains unclear if the murders were “a homicide or an accident.”

The New Gay Times, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Mexico, reported LGBTQ rights groups across the country have demanded “a definitive and specialized investigation” into Baena’s murder. Thousands of people on Monday who took part in a march in Mexico City demanded justice for Baena.

“We are and will be there for you, dear Ociel,” said Casa Refugio Paola Buenrostro, a shelter in Mexico City that Casa de las Muñecas Tiresas, a local transgender rights group, runs, on Monday in a post to its Facebook page. “Your fight will not be in vein.”

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Mexico City hosts LGBTQ+, intersex rights conference

LGBTQ+ Victory Institute co-organized 3-day event

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LGBTQ+ Victory Institute President Annise Parker, second from left, with Mexican Congresswoman Salma Luévano, second from right, in Mexico City on July 20, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Editor’s note: International News Editor Michael K. Lavers was on assignment in Mexico City from July 17-23.

MEXICO CITY — More than 400 people from around the world attended an LGBTQ+ and intersex rights conference that took place last week in Mexico City.

Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights, and Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ+ and intersex issues, are among those who spoke at the LGBTI Political Leaders from the Americas and the Caribbean Conference that the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute co-sponsored. Maryland state Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County), Massachusetts state Rep. Jack Lewis, Brazilian Congresswomen Erika Hilton and Duda Salabert, Mexican Congresswoman Salma Luévano, Venezuelan National Assemblywoman Tamara Adrián, former Colombian Congressman Mauricio Toro, former Peruvian Congressman Alberto de Belaunde, Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality Executive Director Kenita Placide and Fundación Triángulo (Spain) President José María Núñez Blanco are among those who also participated.

Victory Institute spokesperson Pita Juárez noted to the Washington Blade the 438 people who attended the conference came from the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Afghanistan, China, Panama, Paraguay, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras. 

The following groups from across the region co-organized the conference along with the Victory Institute. 

• Yaaj México

• Caribe Afirmativo (Colombia)

• Diversidad Dominicana (Dominican Republic)

• Somos CDC (Honduras)

• Promsex (Peru)

• Vote LGBT+ (Brazil)

Stern in her speech at the conference on July 20 noted the U.S. supported the conference and helped organizers cover some attendees’ transportation costs.

‘Fight for global equality is more important than ever’

The conference took place against the backdrop of the passage of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in several U.S. states and in countries around the world and persistent violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation throughout Latin America. 

Cubans last September approved a new family code that extended marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. (Brenda Díaz, a Transgender woman with HIV who participated in an anti-government protest in the country’s Artemisa province on July 11, 2021, is serving a 14-year prison sentence.) Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda over the last year have decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations.

“Our fight for global equality is more important than ever,” said Victory Institute President Annise Parker on July 20 when she opened the conference. “We have always known that we have had much farther to go, but we are experiencing a backlash across the globe.” 

“In the United States a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced and passed last year,” she noted. “LGBTQ+ lawmakers like (Oklahoma state Rep.) Mauree Turner and (Montana state Rep.) Zooey Zephyr were censured and expelled from their offices in the United States, but hate has no borders.”

Parker in her speech said “efforts to discriminate against trans people are increasing” in the U.K. and “we’ve seen an uptick in identity-based harassment” in Latin America. Parker also noted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in May signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality that contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

“This is a moment of alarm; it is also a rallying cry,” said Parker. “The best way to push back is to put LGBTQI+ people into those halls and offices to stand up and speak for us. They’re our anecdotes to hate.”

Parker in her speech also noted LGBTQ+ and intersex rights advances in the Americas over the last year. They include the election of Hilton and Dudabert, who are both Trans, to the Brazilian Congress last October, the five LGBTQ+ people and a nonbinary person who won their respective races for the Colombian House of Representatives in May 2022 and the Mexican Senate’s vote to ban so-called conversion therapy in the country.

“We can make progress,” said Parker.

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Marriage equality now legal across Mexico

Country’s Supreme Court in 2015 ruled legal bans ‘discriminatory’

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The Mexican flag (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico — Same-sex couples can now legally marry across Mexico after lawmakers in Tamaulipas state on Wednesday approved a marriage equality bill.

Mexico City in 2010 became the first jurisdiction in the country to allow same-sex couples to legally marry. The Mexican Supreme Court in 2015 ruled state laws that ban same-sex marriage are “discriminatory.”

Lawmakers in Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, on Wednesday by a 23-12 margin voted to amend the state’s Civil Code to allow same-sex couples to marry. Legislators in Guerrero state in southern Mexico on Tuesday approved a marriage equality bill.

Mexico is the latest Latin American country to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Voters in Cuba last month approved a new family code that includes marriage equality. 

Same-sex couples can legally marry in Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthélemy, St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba also have marriage equality.

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U.S. Consulate warns Americans avoid travel to Tijuana as violence erupts

The U.S. Consulate General Tijuana: Officials are aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks, & heavy police activity in Tijuana

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Burning vehicle in Tijuana (Photo Credit: Screenshot Twitter video)

TIJUANA, Baja California, Mexico – The U.S. Consulate General Tijuana issued an alert to American citizens after threats and two days of violence by a regional drug cartel in this popular tourist destination south of San Diego. Officials also warned its personnel to shelter in place.

In a message the U.S. Consulate General Tijuana wrote that officials are aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks, and heavy police activity in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada, and Tecate. U.S. government employees have been instructed to shelter in place until further notice.

Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda tweeted: “We will apply all the strength of our government so that there is peace and we find those responsible for these attacks.”

Media outlets in San Diego and Baja California are reporting that the violence started Thursday in a Ciudad Juarez prison after the Sinaloa Cartel, once led by the infamous Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and a local group, Los Mexicles, began feuding. The riot left two dead and 16 injured before breaking out into the streets. At that time a shelter in place order was issued.

That violence has now spread to other parts of the country including Tecate, Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito, Mexicali, and Ensenada in Baja California.

On Friday, cartel soldiers set multiple vehicles on fire, set up multiple road blockades and engaged in shootouts with Mexican security forces. Residents of Tecate, Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito, Mexicali, and Ensenada are sharing videos of burnt vehicles in the street on various social media platforms.

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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)

TIJUANA, Mexico — 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.” 

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Baja California governor vetoes conversion therapy ban bill

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)

MEXICALI, Mexico — 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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