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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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Mexico

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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Mexico

Global Equality Caucus launches chapter in Latin America

Officials from across region attended launch in Mexico City

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The Global Equality Caucus earlier this month officially launched its Latin America chapter during a meeting it held in Mexico City (Photo courtesy of the Mexican Senate)

MEXICO CITY — A group of LGBTQ+ elected officials from around the world that fights discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has launched a Latin America chapter.

The Global Equality Caucus earlier this month launched the chapter during a meeting in Mexico City.

Upwards of 100 elected officials in Mexico — local, state and national — joined representatives of LGBTQ+ rights groups and allies at the event. Twenty elected officials from Central America and more than 30 LGBTQ+ activists and human rights defenders from the region attended.

Mexican Sens. Patricia Mercado and Martha Lucía Mícher; Mexico City Assemblyman Temístocles Villanueva Ramos; Mexico City Secretary of Labor and Employment José Luis Rodríguez Díaz de León; Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ+ issues, and Nick Herbert, a member of the British House of Lords who advises Prime Minister Boris Johnson on LGBTQ+ issues, are among those who spoke at the meeting. Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila, Costa Rican Congressman Enrique Sánchez and Mexico City Assemblywoman Ana Francis López Bayghen Patiño, among others, also attended.

“Right now we see different speeds in the advance of our rights, but we have the conviction that we can advance substantively towards full equal rights if we speak to those who make decisions in Congresses, national and local governments and in civil society,” Global Equality Caucus Membership and Projects Coordinator for Latin America Erick Ortiz told the Washington Blade.

Ortiz in 2021 ran for the El Salvador National Assembly. He would have been the first openly gay man elected to the country’s legislative body if he had won.

The Global Equality Caucus’ Latin America chapter will hold its second meeting in Buenos Aires next month.

Editor’s note: The Blade published a Spanish version of this article on April 14.

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Mexico activist receives country’s first non-binary birth certificate

Guanajuato Civil Registry issued document to activist on Feb. 11

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

GUANAJUATO, Mexico — An LGBTQ+ activist in Mexico has received the country’s first birth certificate with a non-binary gender marker.

Fausto Martínez last September petitioned Mexico’s National Electoral Institute to list their gender as “NB” on their official documents.

Martínez and Amicus, an advocacy group that is based in the state of Guanajuato, sought legal recourse, known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system, after the National Electoral Institute denied the request. A judge ruled in favor of Martínez last month, and the Guanajuato Civil Registry on Feb. 11 issued them a birth certificate with a non-binary gender marker.

“I have always said what is not named does not exist,” said Martínez in a tweet after they received their new birth certificate. “The fact of the matter is the Mexican state recognizes that we non-binary people exist and with that we are subject to rights and obligations.”

Amicus Director Juan Pablo Delgado on Monday told the Washington Blade the issuance of Martínez’s amended birth certificate is a victory for non-binary Mexicans.

“When looking for the root causes of discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people, we find that there are at least three imposed social norms where prejudice and stigmatization begin: Heteronormativity, cisnormativity and the gender binary,” said Delgado. “The former two have been continuously challenged since the first same-gender couples and Trans women and men were initially recognized by law in the country. However, this is the first time where the gender binary loses a legal battle as there’s no previous record of the issuance of an official identification in favor of a non-binary person.”

Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry last month announced Transgender people who were born in Mexico can receive an amended birth certificate at any of the country’s consulates.

Amicus represented two Trans Mexicans who brought legal action after consulates in the U.S. denied their request for birth certificates that correspond with their gender identity. Victory Institute International Programs Manager Mateo de la Torre on Jan. 19 received an amended birth certificate at the Mexican Consulate in D.C. after the new policy took effect.

“This birth certificate comes after a decade of living in my truth as a Transgender man and after years of advocating for my right to be recognized as such,” De La Torre told the Blade after he received his new birth certificate. “In Mexico and abroad, many Trans people face discrimination, violence and endless bureaucratic hurdles in their fight for legal recognition, and after all this time I am most grateful for the ability to vote in my country’s elections.”

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