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Pro-LGBTQ+ Chilean president takes office

Gabriel Boric’s Cabinet has two out members

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Chilean President Gabriel Boric (Screen capture)

Editor’s note: International News Editor Michael K. Lavers is currently on assignment in Chile.

VALPARAÍSO, Chile —Chilean President Gabriel Boric was sworn in on Friday during a ceremony that took place in the country’s Congress.

Boric, a former congressman and student protest movement leader who supports LGBTQ+ rights, last December defeated José Antonio Kast, a far-right former congressman, in the second round of Chile’s presidential elections.

The 36-year-old native of Punta Arenas, a city in southern Chile’s Magallanes Region, is the youngest president in Chilean history. Boric succeeds former President Sebastián Piñera.

Education Minister Marco Antonio Ávila and Sports Minister Alexandra Benado are openly gay and lesbian respectively. Boric and his government took office a day after Chile’s marriage equality law took effect.

Emilia Schneider on Friday also became the first openly transgender woman sworn into the Chilean Congress.

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Argentina’s former special envoy for LGBTQ+ rights criticizes new government

Alba Rueda resigned before President Javier Milei took office

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Alba Rueda (Photo courtesy of Alba Rueda)

By Esteban Rioseco | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s former Special Representative on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity during an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade discussed recent setbacks in LGBTQ+ rights in the country. 

Alba Rueda, a Transgender woman who held the position in former President Alberto Fernández’s administration, revealed the challenges and risks faced by the queer community in the South American country in which 57.4 percent of the population lives in poverty, which is the highest rate in 20 years. The Catholic University of Argentina’s Observatory of Social Debt also notes Argentina began 2024 with a 20.6 percent inflation rate; this figure is 254.2 percent from year-to-year.

President Javier Milei took office in December.

“We received a request from our president at the time, Alberto Fernández, that we submit our resignation as part of the team that integrates the presidency,” Rueda told the Washington Blade.

Rueda explained she “resigned on Nov. 28, a few days before, to make it effective on Dec. 10 with the new government and since then, since Milei, the presidency and the chancellor, Daniela Elena Mondino, took office, (her post) was eliminated. It was already foreseeable according to Milei’s statements about closing the offices on gender perspective.”

“Our special representation was closed. My colleagues were redirected to other areas,” Rueda explained. “The person who accompanied me in political terms resigned with me, so the two of us left on Dec. 10, and the rest of the technical staff was relocated within the Foreign Ministry.” 

The former ambassador described how the closure of her position and the elimination of the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry represent a significant setback in the protection of LGBTQ+ rights in Argentina. She stressed that while the country was a pioneer in passing progressive laws for the LGBTQ+ community, the lack of effective implementation and declining government commitment are jeopardizing these advances. 

“We argued that it had been a long time since very significant laws were passed in our country and that they had to be translated into national and local public policies,” she explained. “LGBTIQ+ people not only have to be protected formally in the law, but we have to change and modify the living conditions of our community that has experienced discrimination, violence and persecution for many years.”

She added “to change that culture, there needs to be not only a formal framework, but functioning democratic institutions” 

“This elimination has a direct affectation to the rights of LGBTIQ+ people,” said Rueda.

The interview revealed how Milei’s government has dismantled institutions and policies designed to protect queer people. 

“We created, for example, a program that was the first program at the national level that was an assistance program for Trans people,” Rueda said. “This program of accompaniment for the protection of their rights was in the sub-secretariat and provided economic support and was working on solving all the procedures related to access to education, health, employment, issues related to substantive issues.”

Rueda highlighted that recent political decisions are not only curtailing LGBTQ+ rights, but are also directly affecting the community, especially those who are economically vulnerable. The elimination of assistance programs and lack of legal protections are leaving many LGBTQ+ people in a vulnerable position.

“Economic rights have been affected, as is the inflationary process and the inflationary decisions of this last month are directly affecting the middle class, lower middle class and the most impoverished sectors,” said Rueda. “It directly affects not only economic rights of the LGBTIQ+ population that belongs to these classes, but also affects rights that are not being worked within the framework or promoted within public policies.”

Rueda also raised concerns about a possible increase in violence towards LGBTQ+ people in Argentina, comparable to what has been observed in other countries under hostile political leadership. Rueda stated incidents of violence have already been recorded and that the current political climate is fueling discrimination and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community.

“It started during the campaign, and I think that during the whole last year we saw how effectively, punctually in social networks and in the public space there was a whole attack on LGBTQ+ people,” she said. “Let’s not forget during the campaign that the main candidates who are the president, the vice president and the chancellor expressed themselves in the wrong way, generating with their ignorance a completely wrong message in the media, amplifying these messages that directly affect the rights of LGBTQ+ people.”

Rueda recalled the vice president “expressed in her campaign that for her it was not necessary to call marriage a union of people of the same sex … that was the civil union and saying that marriage was a figure associated with religious aspects.”

While Milei “in an interview also during the presidential campaign, said that he did not care if people want to have sex with other people of the same sex or with animals, such as elephants, equating and putting on the same level the consensual relations of people of the same sex over 18 as zoophilia.”

The situation has reached the point that different WhatsApp groups created to seek help during the COVID-19 pandemic became active again because of the interruption of the National Social Protection Plan and changes to an employment program that made vulnerable Trans people in Argentina more at-risk.

“We are in a bad moment for the rights and quality of life of LGBTQ+ people,” Rueda said.

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban Alonso Enrique Guzmán Rioseco is a Chilean digital communicator, LGBT rights activist and politician. He was spokesperson and executive president of the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh). He is currently a Latin American correspondent for the Washington Blade newspaper .

On October 22, 2015, together with Vicente Medel, he celebrated the first gay civil union in Chile in the Governorate of Concepción .

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Former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera killed in helicopter crash

Previous head of state signed marriage equality, gender identity laws

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Former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera (Public domain photo)

By Estebán Rioseco | LAGO RANCO, Chile — Former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera died on Tuesday when the helicopter he was piloting crashed near Lake Ranco during heavy rains.

Initial reports indicate Piñera, 74, was piloting his private helicopter when it plunged into the lake, which is located in the Los Ríos Region of southern Chile. One of his sisters was among the three other people who was on board.

The former president owned a summer house on Lake Ranco. Family members and people close to him say he was in the area to have lunch at the home of businessman José Cox, a close friend and associate. Piñera boarded his helicopter after 3 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) and the accident occurred a few minutes later.

Reports indicate his relatives managed to survive after they jumped into the water, but Piñera was not able to escape. The helicopter sank in more than 130 feet of water.

Piñera, who was Chile’s president between 2010-2014 and 2018-2022, was the country’s first right-wing president since democracy returned to the country in 1990. Piñera’s government enacted most of Chile’s LGBTQ+ rights laws: The Anti-Discrimination Law in 2012, the Gender Identity Law in 2018 and the Equal Marriage Law in 2021.

Then-Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, right, greets Javier Silva and Jaime Nazar, the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Chile, on March 10, 2022, at the Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile. (Photo courtesy of Hunter T. Carter/Instagram)

His first administration sent a civil unions bill to Congress, and it became law in 2015. Piñera also implemented public policies that sought to improve queer Chileans’ quality of life. 

Javiera Zuñiga, spokesperson for the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, the main Chilean LGBTQ+ organization known by the acronym Movilh, told the Washington Blade that “our organization is deeply saddened by the death of the former president, who played a crucial, leading and pioneering role for a president in the promotion and defense of the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people, same-sex couples and same-parent families.”

María José Cumplido, executive director of Fundación Iguales, another advocacy group, said “our condolences to the family of former President Sebastián Piñera for his passing.”

“We remember his commitment to the enactment of the Anti-Discrimination Law, the Gender Identity Law and the Consolidation of Equal Marriage, historic achievements for the LGBT+ community in Chile,” said Cumplido.

“I am very sorry for the death of President Piñera,” said Pablo Simonetti, an activist and writer, on his X account. “From the right he opened paths towards the integration of LGBT people and led the great milestone of equal marriage. My condolences to his family and friends, especially to (his wife) Cecilia Morel.”

President Gabriel Boric’s government also mourned Piñera’s death and announced a period of national mourning. A state funeral for Piñera will also take place.

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban Alonso Enrique Guzmán Rioseco is a Chilean digital communicator, LGBT rights activist and politician. He was spokesperson and executive president of the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh). He is currently a Latin American correspondent for the Washington Blade newspaper .

On October 22, 2015, together with Vicente Medel, he celebrated the first gay civil union in Chile in the Governorate of Concepción .

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Activists criticize removal of sexual orientation question from Chilean Census

Advocacy group on Jan. 4 wrote letter to President Gabriel Boric

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La Moneda, the Chilean Presidential Palace, in Santiago, Chile (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

By Esteban Rioseco | SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) in an unexpected move has decided to remove the question regarding sexual orientation from the questionnaire of this year’s Census that will take place between March and June. 

The questionnaire, which consists of 50 questions, seeks to collect essential information to update demographic data that is fundamental for the formulation and continuation of public policies. Nationality, disability, native language, Afro-descendance and gender identity are among the new topics to be included in the Census, but activists have criticized the INE’s decision to omit the question about sexual orientation.

“We met with both the deputy technical director and the national director of INE to demand that this question be included,” Maria José Cumplido, executive director of Fundación Iguales, told the Washington Blade. “Unfortunately, the answer they gave us was that due to methodology and privacy protocol, this question could not be included in the Census because, according to their protocols, the question must be asked in a one-on-one interview and the head of household is interviewed for the Census and he or she answers for the family group.” 

The activist added “it is also very striking because there are questions about gender identity, for example, if you are trans or nonbinary.” 

“In the end, this protocol would not apply, which is very strange because both questions are sensitive,” said Cumplido. 

Cumplido said it will not be possible to have useful statistics to help create public policies without the question on sexual orientation.

Congresswoman Emilia Schneider, who is Transgender, on social media also expressed her opposition to the INE’s decision. 

She said the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in the Census is crucial to combat discrimination through effective public policies. Schneider added the INE — and not the government — is responsible for the decision because it is an autonomous body.

Lawmakers from various political parties have also urged the INE to reconsider its decision. El Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), another advocacy group, expressed their concern in a letter it sent to President Gabriel Boric on Jan. 4.

The Blade on Thursday obtained a copy of it.

“These exclusions are undoubtedly a civilizational setback for LGBTIQ+ rights,” reads the letter that Movilh President Gonzalo Velásquez signed.

The letter notes 18 laws “that protect sexual orientations, gender identities and expression that especially justify protecting and improving the previous Census’ questions about diversities” have been approved since 2012. One of these laws, which extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in Chile, took effect on March 10, 2022, the day before Boric’s inauguration.

Movilh in its letter notes an agreement it signed with former President Michelle Bachelet’s government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2016. Bachelet’s government, as part of the agreement, agreed to introduce bills to extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. (Movilh in 2020 withdrew from the agreement after it accused then-President Sebastián Piñera of not doing enough to advance marriage equality in Chile. Piñera later announced his support for marriage equality, and the law that allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot took effect the day before he left office.) 

“We have been working together with the INE and the Census over the last few years and the official version was going to include questions about sexual and gender diversity,” reads the letter. “Today, however, we learned that this promise will not be fulfilled.”

Movilh spokesperson Javiera Zúñiga told the Blade a government minister has expressed a “willingness” to “meet with us,” but added he “told us that he cannot intervene in technical decisions of INE.”

“Therefore, it does not change the decision, nor the determination to exclude sexual orientation and data on LGBT people in the Census,” said Zúñiga. “What seems to us quite bad and quite unrealistic — since it is necessary for policies to publish (the statistics) — but it is also the State of Chile’s commitment to generate statistics regarding the LGBTQ+ population.”

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Rejection of proposed Chilean constitution seen as a victory for LGBTQ+ rights

55.8 percent of voters opposed second draft

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Fundación Iguales Executive Director María José Cumplido (Photo courtesy of Fundación Iguales)

BY ESTEBAN RIOSECO | SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile has experienced a crucial turn in its political landscape with the results of Sunday’s referendum in which voters rejected a proposed constitution that generated concern among LGBTQ+ activists.

Chileans rejected the draft constitution with 55.8 percent of voters supporting the “against” option. Turnout was 84.5 percent.

The Republican Party, founded by the far right-wing former presidential candidate José Antonio Kast, led the effort behind the proposed constitution. Sunday marked the second time that Chileans went to the polls to decide on a new constitution — the process began after social protests rocked the country in October 2019.

A year after the unrest, more than 80 percent of voters were in favor of replacing the constitution, but the first attempt that independents and left wing sectors led, failed in September 2022, when 62 percent of Chileans voted “rejection.”

With the second rejection on Sunday, voters punished the right wing after opposing independents and the left wing. This result ended a cycle of euphoria after the social unrest with a high initial percentage for change. The current constitution, which took effect in 1980 during Augusto Pinochet’s regime and has undergone several changes, remains in force.

María José Cumplido, executive director of Fundación Iguales, expressed relief, noting the proposed constitution posed a significant risk to the rights of women and sexual diversities. 

“We are very relieved,” Cumplido told the Washington Blade.

As to how she perceives these results will affect the LGBTQ+ community in terms of rights and protections, Cumplido noted more voters consciously objected to the proposed constitution that could have resulted in constitutionalized discrimination. Cumplido, however, pointed out the 1980 constitution does not ensure real protections against discrimination, which means Fundación Iguales will continue to work in this area.

Cumplido highlighted the broad conscientious objection could allow discrimination on religious grounds. She further noted the lack of a sufficiently robust non-discrimination principle and expressed concerns about the weakness of the rights of children and adolescents.

“Conscientious objection has been used to reopen debates that had already been democratically resolved, usually in relation to specific groups, such as LGBTIQ+ (people), whose rights were only recently recognized and whose implementation is sought to be avoided, even if this significantly affects the holders of those rights,” said Cumplido.

Ignacia Oyarzun, president and coordinator of legislation and public policy of Organizando Trans Diversidades, expressed relief over the referendum’s results. Oyarzun emphasized the proposed constitution would have limited the possibility of advancing Transgender rights.

“It basically boils down to a sense of tranquility,” Oyarzun pointed out to the Blade. “Understanding that for particularly communities like ours, who are socially vulnerable, who have historically been excluded from political, social spaces, it implied the possibility of being able to suffer, let’s say, even more social and political vexations in relation to a constitution guaranteeing certain possibilities of discrimination directly towards our communities.”

Organizando Trans Diversidades President Ignacia Oyarzun (Photo courtesy of Ignacia Oyarzun)

Oyarzun affirmed the results guarantee the continuity of the advances in trans rights and for the broader LGBTQ+ community. Oyarzun also pointed out the proposed constitution threatened rights that the Trans community has won, such as the recognition of gender identity. 

“It gave the possibility of going backwards in rights that we have already currently managed to achieve, such as for example identity recognition or for example circulars, in this case of Infancia Circular de Educación 0812, which enables the respect of the gender identity of girls and boys (and their ability to) use (their) social name, (their) use of (a) bathroom, (a) uniform,” Oyarzun emphasized. “All this would have been under the possibility of being eventually repealed or even not respected without any type of sanction for the educational establishments.”

Oyarzun added that “then, particularly these results, what guarantees us in a certain way is not to see a backward step basically in the rights we have acquired and to the continuity, let us say, of the advances we have achieved and the possibility of being able to continue advancing in terms of human and protection rights for our communities.”

In relation to the risk posed by conscientious objection and the lack of protection against discrimination for Trans people, Oyarzun highlighted the concern about overt discrimination in educational establishments and stressed it could have led to a worse quality of life and an increase in violence that would directly affecting the life expectancy of Trans people.

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Argentina’s new president eliminates Women, Gender & Diversity Ministry

Javier Milei’s decision has sparked concern among LGBTQ activists

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Newly inaugurated Argentinian President Javier Milei with incoming Vice-President Victoria Villarruel. (Photo Credit: Office of the President of Argentina/Facebook)

By Esteban Rioseco | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentinian President Javier Milei has fulfilled one of his campaign promises, which is to eliminate the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry.

Milei took office on Dec. 10. He defeated then-Economy Minister Sergio Massa in the second round of the country’s presidential election that took place on Nov. 20.

The president’s controversial decision to eliminate the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry is intended to reconfigure the government structure, placing the portfolio’s responsibilities under the purview of Human Capital Minister Sandra Viviana Pettovello. 

The decree mandates “the commitments and obligations assumed by the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity will be under the Ministry of Human Capital,” with the transfer of budgetary credits, organizational units, assets and personnel. This reorganization also eliminates the Education, Culture, Labor and Social Development Ministries amid soaring inflation, increased poverty and political and economic instability.

This radical change comes four years after then-President Alberto Fernández in 2019 created the Women, Diversity and Gender Ministry. The resolution, which Milei signed and has already been published in the Official Gazette, has created a new government structure that has raised concerns, especially among LGBTQ+ rights activists in the country that has been at the vanguard of expanding rights to sexual and gender minorities. 

New Congressman Esteban Paulón, a long-time activist who represents Santa Fe province, criticized Milei’s decision.

“One of the president’s prerogatives is to dictate his own law of ministries to order the government’s management,” Paulón told the Washington Blade. “Out of 18 existing ministries, it is reduced to nine or 10, and obviously one of the ministries that is eliminated is the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity.” 

Paulón noted this decision reflects Milei’s view of these issues as “superfluous policy expenditures,” sending a clear message that they will not be a priority for his administration.

“The president decided to make his first speech with his back to Congress, ignoring a Congress that is very fragmented and with which he needs to have a dialogue if he wants to pass some of the laws he is pushing,” said Paulón. “This beginning has not been a good omen in the 40th anniversary of democracy.”

Paulón added this situation “adds a lot of uncertainty and concern.”

The congressman also reiterated his concerns about the future of gender and sexual diversity policies in Argentina. 

“It is still not clear in the structure of the State where those jobs that exist today, that are created, will remain. It is not resolved,” said Paulón. “We will have to see how the issue evolves, but for now there is silence on the part of the government in relation to this.”

Paulón further stressed the importance of defending policies that benefit LGBTQ+ people.

He said these policies are not only relevant to LGBTQ+ people; but also apply to the fight against gender violence, femicides, labor and social inclusion of the Transgender community and other inequalities and the implementation of the Trans labor quota. Paulón concluded the loss of institutionalism not only implies the lack of resources from the State, but also the absence of a clear message about the importance of these issues in society. 

“This is a huge shame because the truth is that these policies are very necessary, first because we know that there are issues linked to gender inequalities and this obviously includes the perspective of dissidence that have a concrete impact on the daily lives of people, care policies, gender violence, the issue of feminist economy, obviously everything that has to do with labor and social inclusion of the LGBTIQ+ collective,” he said. 

“These are extremely relevant issues that are lost when losing institutionality because the State stops allocating resources, stops investing and above all stops sending a clear message to society that these are relevant issues,” added Paulón. “They are issues that the State has to deal with and society has to commit to modify, and the truth is that if we do not fight against the structure of patriarchy that is so settled in capitalism, we will not be able to fight against so many other inequalities.”

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban Alonso Enrique Guzmán Rioseco is a Chilean digital communicator, LGBT rights activist and politician. He was spokesperson and executive president of the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh). He is currently a Latin American correspondent for the Washington Blade newspaper .

On October 22, 2015, together with Vicente Medel, he celebrated the first gay civil union in Chile in the Governorate of Concepción .

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LGBTQ+ group urges Chileans to vote against proposed constitution

Fundación Iguales says proposal does not sufficiently protect community

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Fundación Iguales Executive Director María José Cumplido. (Washington Blade photo by Esteban Ríoseco)

BY ESTEBAN RIOSECO | SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile’s proposed new constitution has generated concern and criticism among the country’s LGBTQ+ activists who say it would not sufficiently protect the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

Fundación Iguales, one of the country’s most prominent LGBTQ+ rights organizations, has urged Chileans to vote against the proposed constitution in the referendum that will take place on Dec. 17.

The plebiscite is the second attempt in less than three years to change Chile’s constitution in the wake of widespread protests and social arrests that took place in October 2019. 

Chileans on Sept. 4, 2022, rejected the Constitutional Convention’s proposed constitution. This rejection initiated the 2023 process in which the ultra-right won the majority of seats in the Constitutional Council, the body that wrote the new text on which Chileans will vote in December.

Fundación Iguales Executive Director María José Cumplido explained the reasons behind her organization’s position. 

“Our position as a foundation is to vote against this proposal because of the conscientious objection without limits, the lack of a robust nondiscrimination principle, a misconception of the best interests of children and adolescents and the weakness in the sexual and reproductive rights of women and pregnant women,” she told the Washington Blade.

Cumplido warned the lack of a nondiscrimination principle in the proposed constitution could lead to a State that does not focus on implementing public policies to prevent discrimination. Cumplido said this omission could translate into a lack of training for civil servants, insufficient sex education and obstacles to access to justice, among other consequences.

Paloma Zúñiga, a former constitutional counselor for the leftist Democratic Revolution party who participated in the constitution drafting process and is an LGBTQ+ ally, told the Blade there are serious problems with the draft in regards to queer issues.

“First, (there is) an overly broad conscientious objection could allow discrimination on religious grounds in education, health care, commerce, among others,” she said. “For example, a restaurant could expel a lesbian couple for kissing, a hospital could refuse to treat a trans person or not allow LGBTQ students in classrooms.”

Zúñiga added a second concern is “the absence of a nondiscrimination principle robust enough to oblige the state to prevent discrimination considering that violence against queer people has increased.” The final issue, according to Zúñiga, is “the weakness of the rights of children and adolescents, especially in terms of their autonomy and free development of personality, which could directly affect trans children.”

Cumplido agrees with Zúñiga regarding the problems the enshrining of conscientious objection in the new constitution could bring. The activist highlighted international examples, such as the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case in the U.S., where conscientious objection was used to reopen debates on rights already democratically resolved. This legal precedent could be replicated in various situations in Chile, especially given the breadth of the amendment.

Zúñiga, who belongs to a political party that supports President Gabriel Boric, said “we must vote against it because it is a great risk and setback for LGBTQ+ people and the rights conquered in recent years.” 

“As a left sector we did everything possible to eliminate the amendments that harmed LGBTQ+, and even improve their quality of life through a new constitution, but the Republican Party with its majority blocked all our attempts,” she explained.

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Libertarian Javier Milei elected as Argentina’s next president

Argentine’s LGBTQ community is now cautiously awaiting how policies will develop under President-elect Milei’s leadership

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Argentina’s president-elect Javier Milei greeting fans and well wishers in Buenos Aires on Monday, Nov. 20 after winning the nation's highest office. (Photo Credit: Javier Milei/Facebook)

By  Esteban Guzmán Rioseco | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Libertarian economist Javier Milei’s victory in the second round of Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday came as a blow to the country’s LGBTQ community.

Milei defied expectations with his victory over the ruling party’s candidate, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, by a 56-44 percent margin. This result indicates significant support for Milei’s ideas, which include liberal economic policies and limited government.

LGBTQ activists, however, have expressed apprehension over Milei’s controversial positions in the past and others he articulated during the campaign. They did not specifically include issues related to sexual and gender identity, but activists nevertheless remain concerned. 

Milei, for example, said he would eliminate the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity and the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism. (Alba Rueda is Argentina’s first-ever Special Representative on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. She was previously the country’s first undersecretary of diversity policies in the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry. Rueda is the first transgender woman to hold a senior position in the Argentine government.)

“The people’s vote has had a clear message, which was to get Peronism and Kirchnerism out of the government, all the anti-Peronist vote was gathered and concentrated in Milei,” Esteban Paulón, a prominent LGBTQ activist who won a seat in the country’s Congress last month, told the Washington Blade. “Peronism suffered the worst election in history in many of the provinces it even governs, some like the province of Buenos Aires where it barely won by 100,000 votes, by 1 percent, and that evidently shows an exhaustion of the political proposal of Peronism’s political proposal for the country.”

Paulón said Argentines “without a doubt … voted for an option of deep, radical change, after the failure of the political proposals that have governed the country in the last 20 years.” Paulón said voters focused more on economic issues as opposed to Milei’s “social agenda linked to the reduction of rights, opposition to equal marriage, feminism, etc. and gender laws.”

“It is true that this result legitimizes many of these positions,” he said. “We will surely see in the coming weeks and months an increase in this type of statements.”

Milei during the campaign spoke in favor of more limited government and economic policies that would encourage individual freedom. His critics have noted a lack of clarity over his positions that could have implications on the progress that Argentina has made on LGBTQ rights over the last several years.

“Now, it is also true that even though people did not vote for Milei because of his anti-rights proposal,” said Paulón. “Yes, many anti-rights people come to the government, led by Vice President-elect Victoria Villarroel, who is a negationist who vindicates the military dictatorship and vindicates illegal repression.” 

The LGBTQ community is now cautiously awaiting how policies will develop under Milei’s leadership. Activists are urging the president-elect to address and ensure the continued protection of the rights based on gender identity and sexual orientation and to promote inclusion and diversity in all spheres of Argentine society.

“Now it is time to organize as a collective,” said Paulón. “We must obviously be mobilized and attentive to the different situations that may arise and in my case as congressman, to dialogue a lot with related, transversal sectors from different political forces … [and] to resist within the framework of democracy.” 

“A period of much resistance, of intense work in the case of Congress is coming,” he added.

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban Alonso Enrique Guzmán Rioseco is a Chilean digital communicator, LGBT rights activist and politician. He was spokesperson and executive president of the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh). He is currently a Latin American correspondent for the Washington Blade newspaper .

On October 22, 2015, together with Vicente Medel, he celebrated the first gay civil union in Chile in the Governorate of Concepción .

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Chilean activist Luis Larraín dies at 42

Former congressional candidate diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January

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Luis Larraín, the co-founder and former president of Fundación Iguales, a Chilean LGBTQ+ advocacy group, passed away from Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on Nov. 18, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Luis Larraín)

SANTIAGO, Chile — Luis Larraín, a prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist in Chile, died on Saturday after a battle with blood cancer. He was 42.

Larraín, along with writer Pablo Simonetti, in 2013 co-founded Fundación Iguales. Larraín was the group’s president until he stepped down in 2017 to run for the Chilean Congress.

Larraín in January announced doctors had diagnosed him with an “aggressive” form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His family on Friday released a video in which Larraín said he had not responded to the third treatment he had undergone.

“They gave me the first three doses and they unfortunately did not show any results,” he said. “Given that there are no more treatments available and thinking about my quality of life, talking a lot with my family and friends, I have decided to be sedated to spend this last moment in peace, without feeling the effects of cancer destroying my body.”

“I wanted to say goodbye to everyone, thank you for being aware of what was happening to me,” added Larraín. “I hope that you continue with your fight, whether in health, in sexual diversity or in any field.”

“Luis’s legacy will endure in this country’s history today and always,” tweeted Fundación Iguales. “Rest in peace.”

Chilean politicians and activists in the country and elsewhere in Latin America also mourned Larraín.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, another Chilean advocacy group, in a statement said Larraín’s “contribution to nondiscrimination and to the causes of sexual and gender diversity shine like a star.” President Gabriel Boric retweeted a statement from Camila Vallejo, his government’s general secretary minister, in which she said she met Larraín in Congress when he was urging lawmakers to support LGBTQ+ rights “in this conservative country where he grew up.”

“I remember your bravery in those days,” said Vallejo. “I mourn your passing and I extend my deepest condolences to your loved ones and those with whom you were close. Thank you Luis.”

Larraín’s wake will take place in Santiago, the Chilean capital, on Saturday. His funeral will take place on Sunday.

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South America

More than 1 million people attend Buenos Aires Pride march

Presidential election’s second round to take place on Nov. 19

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More than 1 million people took part in the Buenos Aires Pride parade in Argentina on Nov. 4, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Estebán Paulón)

BY ESTEBAN RIOSECO | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — In a vibrant and colorful event that drew more than a million people to the streets of Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital’s Pride march took place on Saturday.

“Not one more adjustment, not one less right,” was the march’s slogan. “Anti-discrimination Law, comprehensive Trans law now!”

This urgent call for equality and nondiscrimination resonated strongly on the eve of the presidential election’s second round that will take place on Nov. 19.

Esteban Paulón, the former president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender People who won a seat in the Argentine Congress on Oct. 22 as a member of the Santa Fe Socialist Party, told the Washington Blade that “we celebrate a massive march that once again broke a record, that summoned many people from the (LGBTQ+) collective, many families, more and more plural, more diverse and with a clear message that was (Javier) Milei no.”

The march, which various LGBTQ+ rights organizations and activists from all over Argentina attended, became a unified cry for equal rights and the rejection of any form of discrimination. Attendees carried banners and flags showing their support for the demands of trans and gender diverse communities.

“The march was in a very propositional tone of defending the rights (that we have won,) of stating that there is not going to be a step backwards, of stating that if there is any attempt to go backwards we are going to be mobilized,” said Paulón. “That was the tone and obviously the … law was not clearly a slogan, it was not the official slogan of the march, but it was perceived and felt in the whole atmosphere.”

Argentina’s political context adds a special dimension to this demonstration, as the country is on the verge of a presidential runoff that pits Libertarian economist Javier Milei, a far-right candidate who is known for his anti-LGBTQ+ stances, against Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who has publicly spoken out in favor of further advancing the queer agenda.

LGBTQ+ activists fear a Milei victory could have a negative impact on laws and policies that protect the community. 

“They come with a very fiery hate speech against different collectives, among them the LGBTQ+ community,” said Paulón. 

From left: Argentine Congressman-elect Estebán Paulón with Marcela Romero, a prominent Transgender rights activist, at the Buenos Aires Pride parade on Nov. 4, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Estebán Paulón)

Congressman Maximiliano Ferraro of Buenos Aires, a gay member of the center-right “Civic Coalition” political coalition who won re-election on Oct. 22, told the Blade the march served as “an opportunity to remember once again that in a society that educates us for shame, Pride is a political response.”

Ferraro added “Pride marches have political, social and cultural meaning.” 

“They are also for celebration, discovery and vindication,” he said. “Here we are defending and raising the flags of equality, freedom and plurality.”

In emotional speeches during the march, activists and representatives of LGBTQ+ organizations stressed the urgency of passing the Anti-Discrimination Law and the Comprehensive Trans Law to guarantee equal rights and nondiscrimination in Argentina. They also called on the population to vote for candidates who support LGBTQ+ rights in the upcoming election.

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South America

Trans Venezuelan presidential candidate’s campaign an ‘important step’

Tamara Adrián endorsed opposition leader who won Oct. 22 primary

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Tamara Adrián speaks to reporters after she voted in Caracas, Venezuela, on Oct. 22, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Tamara Adrián)

BY ESTEBAN RIOSECO | CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela on Sunday saw a historic milestone for LGBTQ+ rights with Tamara Adrián on the ballot as the first Transgender woman to run for president in the country.

The country’s opposition held a presidential primary where different political sectors, self-defined as the opposition to President Nicolás Maduro’s regime, ran with the commitment that the defeated candidates would unite behind the winner: María Corina Machado from the center-right Vente Venezuela party.

Adrián after the results became known went to Machado’s election headquarters to give her her unconditional support. 

“Together until the end,” they both said during an emotional and celebratory celebration.

Adrián also expressed her conviction that the opposition’s unity is fundamental to win in 2024. 

“I come to express my support to a long-time friend,” she said. “She knows that she can count on me in everything to free the country.”

Adrián told the Washington Blade that “even though we didn’t win, this road was an important step we collectively took to once and for all end the regime of Nicolas Maduro, which has done so much harm to our people.”

“We showed that LGBTQ people can go very far and that diversity is our strength,” said Adrián.

The results mark a significant step towards inclusion and queer representation in the political arena of a country where sexual and gender diversity has often proven controversial. Although Adrián did not win her primary, it was undoubtedly an important step in making it clear that LGBTQ+ people can participate in the country’s political process.

Adrián, a prominent figure in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Venezuela and around the world, emerged as one of the most prominent candidates in the primary. 

She won a seat in the National Assembly in 2015, becoming the first Trans woman in Venezuela elected to the legislative body.

Adrián has tirelessly advocated for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community and has worked hard to raise awareness about violence and discrimination that Trans Venezuelans face. 

Activists and many of her supporters in Venezuela praised her candidacy as an important step towards a more inclusive society. Human rights groups across South America have also expressed hope that Adrián’s campaign will inspire other LGBTQ+ people to become active in politics and spur social change in their respective countries.

“This candidacy was not only a testimony of my dedication and leadership, but also a powerful message about the acceptance and growing support for Trans people in our society, in addition to making visible the failures of the Venezuelan state to respect the civil rights of trans people,” Adrián told the Blade. “We are at the tail of the rest of the countries in the region and with our participation in this electoral event things will definitely change.” 

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