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Brazil LGBTQ+ activists, HIV/AIDS service providers fear Bolsonaro reelection

Presidential election to take place in October

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Anti-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro flyers on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo, on March 13, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

(Editor’s note: Two sources quoted in this story — Fernanda Fonseca and Beto de Jesus — shared their personal views on the subject. Their remarks do not represent the views of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.)

SALVADOR, Brazil — Fernanda Fonseca was the coordinator of the Brazilian Health Ministry’s program to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, syphilis and viral hepatitis B in 2019 when she attended the International AIDS Society’s Conference on HIV Science in Mexico City.

Fonseca, who attended the conference in her personal capacity, made a presentation that focused on the issue. Her husband, who at the time coordinated the Brazilian Health Ministry’s viral hepatitis program, also traveled to Mexico City.

One of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s sons soon posted to Twitter a picture of a doctored presentation “about trans community rights, and LGBT community rights” that an unnamed “couple” had made at the conference. The “couple” who Bolsonaro’s son targeted was Fonseca and her husband.

“He was like, this is what the government is standing for,” Fonseca told the Washington Blade on March 16 during an interview at a coffee shop in Salvador, a city in northeastern Brazil that is the capital of Bahia state.

Bolsonaro took office as Brazil’s president on Jan. 1, 2019, after he defeated then-São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad in the second round of the country’s presidential election that took place the previous October.

Fonseca noted one of the first things Bolsonaro did as president was to remove HIV from the name of the Health Ministry department that specifically fights HIV/AIDS in Brazil.

It was previously the Department of Vigilance, Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Infections, HIV/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis. It is now called the Department of Chronic Conditions and Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Bolsonaro fired the department’s director, Adele Benzaken, after he took office. Fonseca said her position was also eliminated without her knowledge while she was on maternity leave.

Fonseca eventually resigned. She now works for AIDS Healthcare Foundation Brazil as its country medical program director.

“They destroyed my department,” she said. “When I came back (from maternity leave), no one was answering my calls.”

Fonseca is one of the many HIV/AIDS service providers and LGBTQ+ activists with whom the Blade spoke in Brazil — Salvador, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro — from March 12-21. They all sharply criticized Bolsonaro and expressed concern over what may happen in Brazil if he wins re-election later this year.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation Brazil Medical Program Director Fernanda Fonseca. (Photo courtesy of Fernanda Fonseca)

Bolsonaro is a former Brazilian Army captain who represented Rio de Janeiro in the country’s Congress from 1991-2018.

Fonseca told the Blade that Bolsonaro has banned the Health Ministry from buying lubricants, while adding he “wanted to shut down everything related to HIV.”

“It’s very specific. It’s very homophobic,” she said. “I don’t know who informs him.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation Brazil Program Manager Beto de Jesus during a March 14 interview at his office near São Paulo’s Praça da Republica noted Bolsonaro has suggested COVID-19 vaccines can cause AIDS.

“To him, the question of AIDS is connected to faggots,” said De Jesus.

São Paulo’s Municipal Health Secretary distributes free condoms on the city’s subway system. The Brazilian Health Ministry has donated to AIDS Healthcare Foundation antitretroviral drugs that it provides to Venezuelan migrants who receive care at their clinics in Colombia.

Free condoms at a São Paulo subway station on May 13, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Antiretroviral drugs at AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s clinic in Bogotá, Colombia, the Brazilian Ministry of Health has donated. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Bolsonaro, among many things, has encouraged fathers to beat their sons if they think they are gay. (His son, Rio Municipal Councilman Carlos Bolsonaro, is reportedly gay.)

Jair Bolsonaro in March 2019 during a press conference with then-President Trump in the White House Rose Garden stressed his “respect of traditional family values” — he’s twice divorced and married his third wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, in 2017 — and opposition to “gender ideology.”

A report that Human Rights Watch released earlier this month notes Bolsonaro “has a long history of mischaracterizing and vocally opposing gender and sexuality education, including on the grounds that it constitutes ‘early sexualization’.” Bolsonaro has supported legislation that would limit LGBTQ+-specific curricula in the country’s schools, even after the Brazilian Supreme Court struck down local and state laws on the issue.

Jair Bolsonaro was not president when Rio Municipal Councilwoman Marielle Franco, a bisexual woman of African descent, and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were murdered in Rio’s Lapa neighborhood on March 14, 2018.

Ronnie Lessa, one of the two former police officers who has been arrested in connection with the murders, lived in the same large condominium in Rio’s exclusive Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in which Jair Bolsonaro lives. Franco’s widow, Rio Municipal Councilwoman Mônica Benício, on March 19 said this fact is “just a coincidence.”

Benício during the interview that took place at a coffee shop in downtown Rio stressed Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric against LGBTQ+ Brazilians, women and other groups was “known” before he became president. Benício also acknowledged it resonates with a segment of Brazilian society.

“It is an absolutely despicable posture and incompatible with a posture of the president of the republic,” said Benício.

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)

Two Brazilian LGBTQ+ rights groups — Aliança Nacional LGBTI and Grupo Gay da Bahia — in a report they released on May 10 notes 300 LGBTQ+ Brazilians “suffered violent deaths” because they were murdered or died by suicide. The organizations specifically note Salvador is the most dangerous state capital for LGBTQ+ people.

The report notes 28 percent of the murder victims were killed with knives, machetes, scissors, hoes and other weapons. One of them was stabbed 95 times.

“The cruelty of how many of these executions were committed demonstrates the extreme hatred of the criminals, who are not content with killing, disfigure the victim washing their murderous homophobia in the spilled blood,” said Aliança Nacional LGBTI President Toni Reis in the report’s introduction.

Grupo Gay da Bahia President Marcelo Cerqueira on March 15 told the Blade during an interview in Salvador that race, poverty, class, machismo and family structures all contribute to the area’s high rate of violence against LGBTQ+ people.

“There are many relationships with asymmetrical power dynamics,” he noted.

A samba troupe performs in the Pelourinho neighborhood of Salvador, Brazil, on March 15, 2022. A report that two Brazilian advocacy groups released earlier this month notes Salvador is the most violent Brazilian state capital for LGBTQ+ people. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Keila Simpson is the president of Associaçao Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais (National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals), a Brazilian Transgender rights group known by the acronym ANTRA.

She noted to the Blade on March 16 during an interview at her office in Salvador’s Pelourinho neighborhood that the Supreme Court in 2018 ruled Trans Brazilians can legally change their name and gender without medical intervention or a judicial order. Simpson said Trans Brazilians nevertheless continue to suffer from discrimination, a lack of formal employment and educational opportunities and police violence because of their gender identity. She also added efforts to combat violence against LGBTQ+ Brazilians have become even more difficult because Bolsonaro is “propagating violence against LGBTQ people every day.”

“It increases the possibility of people who are already violent by nature to continue committing violence,” said Simpson.

Associaçao Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais (ANTRA) President Keila Simpson at her office in Salvador, Brazil, on March 16, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Mariah Rafaela Silva, a Trans woman of indigenous descent who works with the Washington-based International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, agreed when she and her colleague, Isaac Porto, spoke with the Blade at a restaurant in Rio’s Ipanema neighborhood on March 21.

“If I would choose a word to define Bolsonaro it would be danger,” said Silva. “He represents a danger to the environment. He represents a danger to diversity. He represents a danger to Black people. He represents a danger to indigenous people.”

Mariah Rafaela Silva, right, and Isaac Porto in Rio de Janeiro on March 21, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Rio de Janeiro (State) Legislative Assemblywoman Renata Souza is a Black feminist who grew up with Franco in Maré, a favela that is close to Rio’s Galeão International Airport, and worked with her for 12 years.

Souza in March traveled to D.C. and met with Serra Sippel, chief global advocacy officer for Fòs Feminista, a global women’s rights group, White House Gender Policy Council Senior Advisor Rachel Vogelstein and other officials and women’s rights activists. Souza on Tuesday noted to the Blade that she also denounced Franco’s murder, the “escalation of police violence and Black genocide in Brazil’s peripheries and favelas” and called for international observers in the country for the presidential election when she spoke at the Organization of American States and to members of Congress.

“President Bolsonaro is the expression of a capitalist political project that serves private national and international interests related to the military-industrial complex, religious fundamentalism, agribusiness and the predatory exploitation of natural resources,” said Souza. “This project’s social base comes from the formation of an ideal of barbarism through the use of violence as language and hate as a fuel that spreads a misogynist, racist and fundamentalist culture, discriminatory customs and policies that predatory to nature and to being human.”

Rio de Janeiro (State) Legislative Assemblywoman Renata Souza, right, meets with Justin Hansford, the executive director of Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, in D.C. in March 2021. (Photo courtesy of Serra Sippel)

The first round of Brazil’s presidential election will take place on Oct. 2.

Polls indicate Bolsonaro is trailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro has already sought to discredit the country’s electoral system, even though a group of more than 20 would-be hackers who gathered in the Brazilian capital of Brasília last week failed to infiltrate it.

Da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010, is a member of the country’s Workers’ Party.

Sergio Moro, a judge who Jair Bolsonaro later tapped as his government’s Justice and Public Security Minister, in 2017 sentenced Da Silva to 9 1/2 years in prison after his conviction on money laundering and corruption charges that stemmed from Operation Car Wash. The Supreme Court in November 2019 ordered Da Silva’s release.

Marina Reidel, a Trans woman who is the director of the country’s Women, Family and Human Rights Department, on Monday told the Blade to email a request for comment on Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-LGBTQ+ record to a spokesperson. The Blade has yet to receive a response.

Julian Rodrigues, who was the coordinator of the Workers’ Party’s National Working Group from 2006-2012, on Tuesday from São Paulo noted Da Silva in 2004 created the Health Ministry’s “Brazil without Homophobia” campaign that he described as a “pioneering program for LGBT rights.” Rodrigues also highlighted Da Silva created the Culture Ministry’s Diversity Secretariat that, among other things, funded community centers and sought to make police officers and other law enforcement officials more LGBTQ+-friendly.

Simpson noted the Health Ministry when Da Silva and President Dilma Rousseff were in office funded projects that specifically helped sex workers and other vulnerable groups.

Rousseff was in office in 2013 when the Supreme Court extended marriage rights to same-sex couples across the country. Michel Temer was Brazil’s president in 2018 when the Supreme Court issued its Trans rights decision.

The Supreme Court on May 24, 2019, issued a ruling that criminalized homophobia and transphobia. Bolsonaro, who took office less than five months earlier, condemned the decision.

The Supreme Court in May 2020 struck down the country’s ban on men who have sex with men from donating blood. Brazil in 1999 became the first country in the world to ban so-called conversion therapy.

Pride flags fly over Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro on March 20, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Rodrigues described Bolsonaro and his administration as “an extreme right-wing, authoritarian and fascist government that uses racial prejudice, gender prejudice and prejudice against LGBTs as engines to mobilize its conservative and reactionary social base.”

“It is a very dangerous government for Brazil’s democratic freedoms,” Rodrigues told the Blade. “The entire Brazilian LGBT movement is fighting ardently to defeat the Bolsonaro government and elect Lula, a progressive president who is committed to the rights of LGBTQ people and all Brazilian people.”

A gay man who was on Rio’s Ipanema Beach with his husband on March 20 told the Blade they support Jair Bolsonaro because they feel he has fought corruption in Brazil. They did, however, add that Jair Bolsonaro “should keep his mouth shut.”

Fonseca said her father voted for Bolsonaro in 2018 because he “hated” Da Silva.

“We don’t live in a democratic state anymore,” said Fonseca, who noted the Supreme Court eventually absolved Da Silva. “We can’t trust the police force. We can’t trust the legal system.”

“People who think like him now they believe they can say that, they have the right to say homophobic things, racist things. They can because our president says them, so it’s ok,” added Fonseca. “We need to remember that it’s not ok. I don’t think they are the majority, So I think when we have a leader again that is strong, we are going back on track.”

Cerqueira echoed Fonseca.

“(Bolsonaro) managed to energize prejudiced people who were not vocal before,” Cerqueira told the Blade on March 15 during an interview in Salvador. “People were afraid to say that I was racist, that I was homophobic, that I was prejudiced. Nowadays everybody wants to be homophobic.”

An anti-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro t-shirt for sale in a market in Rio de Janeiro, on March 19, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Porto noted conservatives continue to dominate the country’s Congress and Brazilians who are Black and/or LGBTQ+ lack political power. He told the Blade the situation in a post-Bolsonaro Brazil is “going to be complicated”

“Brazilian society has not changed,” said Porto. “There is a movement of people who are organized and recognize themselves as equal.”

“There’s a lot of damage that we have to repair,” added Silva.

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South America

Meet Argentina’s special envoy for LGBTQ+ and intersex rights

Alba Rueda is a Transgender woman, long-time activist

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Alba Rueda, center, is Argentina's global envoy for LGBTQ+ and intersex rights. (Photo courtesy of Alba Rueda)

Editor’s note: The Washington Blade interviewed Alba Rueda before the murder of Alejandra Ironici, a prominent transgender activist, in Santa Fe on Aug. 22 and the attempted assassination of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Buenos Aires on Sept. 1.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina is a pioneer in the implementation of laws and public policies that support LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

The country in 2010 became the first in South America to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Argentina in 2021 became the second country in the Americas to offer nonbinary national ID cards.

A Transgender rights law and a labor quota for Trans people, among other things, have been implemented since then. These initiatives, in most cases, have inspired neighboring countries to recognize LGBTQ+ and intersex people.

Argentina this year created a position within the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry that focuses exclusively on the promotion of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights abroad. 

Alba Rueda, a well-known queer activist, on May 2 became Argentina’s first-ever Special Representative on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. The U.S., the U.K., Italy and Germany are the four other countries with people in their respective governments who specifically promote LGBTQ+ and intersex rights abroad.

Alba Rueda, center, with Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for LGBTQ and intersex rights, left, and Fabrizio Petri, right, Italy’s special envoy for LGBTQ and intersex rights, at the 2022 New York Pride parade. (Photo courtesy of Alba Rueda)

Rueda, 46, is a Trans woman who was born in Salta province in northern Argentina.

She moved to Buenos Aires with her family when she was a teenager. Rueda became an activist at an early age and has held various public positions over the last two decades.

Rueda was previously Argentina’s first undersecretary of diversity policies in the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry. She is the first Trans woman to hold a senior position in the country’s government.

Rueda explained to the Washington Blade that her position is one “that deals exclusively with foreign policy regarding diversity policies.” 

“We are within the State’s structure,” she said. “We are in a very unique position within this ministry’s political agenda.”

For her, the advances in LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in Argentina have great relevance because activists and the movements of which they are a part had good strategies that influenced the political arena.

“The trasvestí and Transgender community knew how to anchor (themselves) in the militancy of human rights,” she said. “The 2012 gender identity law is undoubtedly a milestone for all of Latin America because of its content. [It is] one of the first laws that set very high standards of rights in the world and that were really developed by the Trans community in the sociopolitical organizations in which we participate.”

Rueda recalled that in 2006, before any legislation in favor of sexual and gender diversity took effect, the Trans population won a legal battle when the Supreme Court ruled Asociación Lucha por la Identidad Travesti (ALITT), a Trans advocacy group, could obtain legal status.

“This was a fundamental step within the political agenda and from then on a whole process of decriminalization began,” Rueda recalled to the Blade. 

The advancement of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in Argentina since then has not stopped, and that is why Rueda wants to replicate this work in countries across South America and around the world. Argentina, in fact, over the last year has hosted a variety of Global Equality Caucus-led workshops that have focused on the elimination of so-called conversion therapy.

“We are a team under my leadership, where we are working integrally with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, carrying out different lines of work to strengthen the multilateral policies that our country has around certain agendas, as in the United Nations, for example,”  she emphasized.

Regarding her efforts with other Latin American countries, Rueda said she will work to improve the quality of life of LGBTQ+ and intersex people based on efforts in Argentina.

“We are going for a coordination of State policy around LGBT rights, around living conditions; not only the promotion of rights, but of public policies that modify the structure of that inequality around living conditions,” Rueda stressed. 

“There are several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that do not have a gender identity law. With equal marriage, with a Trans labor quota law and what we have here is not only an experience around public policies, but the evidence that this really strengthens and prevents other types of violence,” she added. “This is basically Argentina’s contribution to Latin American cooperation.” 

Finally, she stressed that “it has to do precisely with the strengthening of a line of work which is to demonstrate the evidence that the greater the rights and recognition, the better not only the quality of democracy, but also the better the living conditions of our community and the reduction of violence.” 

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South America

Chile’s new constitution overwhelmingly rejected

Document would have enshrined LGBTQ+ rights in country

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More than 100,000 people attended a Pride protest in Santiago, Chile, on June 25, 2022. Chileans on Sept. 4, 2022, overwhelmingly rejected a new constitution that would have enshrined LGBTQ rights. (Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Velásquez)

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chileans on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected a new constitution that would have enshrined LGBTQ+ rights in an unprecedented way.

Upwards of 80 percent of Chileans in October 2020 voted in favor of changing the constitution. 

More than 60 percent of them rejected the new constitution in Sunday’s referendum. Slightly more than 38 percent of Chileans voted to approve it.

The need to change the current constitution, which is a legacy of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, arose after social unrest in 2019 that exposed long-standing standing inequalities in the South American country.

The new constitution, which a Constitutional Convention with an equal number of men and women and eight openly LGBTQ+ members, was drafted in one year. Gaspar Domínguez, a gay doctor, was the Constitutional Convention’s vice president. 

There were several points of disagreement.

One of the constitution’s most controversial amendments called for Chile to become a plurinational state that would have recognized the existence of the different indigenous people in the country. The “rejection” groups argued the recognition of indigenous people would have created a privileged group and divided the country.

This discourse permeated the debate over the constitution.

President Gabriel Boric’s government said the referendum went well in terms of participation, public transportation and the functioning of the institutions that helped carry it out. The results were available a few minutes after the polling stations closed.

Boric addressed the country from La Moneda, Chile’s presidential palace, in a nationally broadcast speech after the results were known.

He valued the high participation and celebrated the “triumph of democracy.” At the same time, however, he said the “constituent process has not ended.” 

Boric said his government will “agree as soon as possible on the terms of the new constitutional process,” alluding to the fact that the Pinochet-era constitution must be changed. Those who supported the “rejection” option have also committed themselves to find a new way to change the constitution.

Congresswoman Emilia Schneider, a Boric supporter who is the country’s the first openly Transgender member of Congress, on Twitter acknowledged the “hard result” of the referendum.

“The constitution of the dictatorship does not unite us and we could not build a majority around the proposal for which we voted,” said Schneider. “The cycle of changes is not over. Citizens demand social rights and more democracy. It is urgent to give answers.”

“The constituent process does not end here. It is time for those on the side of rejection to assert their commitment,” she stressed. “From tomorrow we must work for a new democratic process, with parity, with indigenous peoples and (a) participatory (process.) Chile has spoken and we need a new constitution.”

Most LGBTQ+ organizations and activists in Chile urged voters to “approve” the new constitution because it would have extended explicit rights to the community for the first time. These would have included the recognition of non-heteronormative families outside of marriage, the right to gender identity and expression, nondiscrimination and reproductive rights.

Alessia Injoque, director of Fundación Iguales, an organization that works with the Human Rights Campaign, told the Washington Blade “the new constitution, if approved, would have represented a very significant advance in the protection of our families, in freedom to live authentic lives and without discrimination.”

“It is regrettable that this advance will not be consolidated, but it is time to recognize the result and work so that these rights are part of the next process,” Injoque lamented.

Injoque in response to a question about the possibility of a new constituent process to draft a new constitution said “in politics the doors are never completely closed.”

“It is difficult to think that we will have such a clear opportunity, with such a strong constitutional proposal on LGBTIQ+ rights, but we will continue working until we achieve full equality and the same freedoms,” said Injoque.

Javiera Zuñiga, the spokesperson for the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, another LGBTQ+ rights group in Chile, told the Blade the draft constitution had “unprecedented positive elements” and there was “an excessive confidence that all citizens felt highly represented by the text.”

“Certainly in what follows in the constitutional process, it will be fundamental to achieve greater consensus on the matters that did not convince Chileans on this occasion,” said Zuñiga.

“The matters related to substantive equality that were included in the proposal are not part of the conflictive elements in the proposal, such as nondiscrimination, respect for identity and equality of rights are quite well installed among Chileans as basic principles of the society we wish to build,” added Zuñiga. “I believe that this has been one of the greatest gains of the process.”

Zuñiga said Movilh “will continue to contribute to (the constituent process and) nurture it and achieve for the community nothing less than what this proposal considered.”

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South America

Prominent Transgender activist murdered in Argentina

Alejandra Ironici found dead in home on Sunday

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Alejandra Ironici (Photo courtesy of Esteban Paulón)

SANTA FE, Argentina — The murder of a prominent Transgender activist in Argentina has sparked outrage across the country.

Clarín, an Argentine newspaper, reports Alejandra Ironici was found dead in her home in Santa Fe, a city in Santa Fe province that is roughly 285 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, the country’s capital, on Sunday.

Ironici’s 22-year-old nephew found her body at around 11 p.m. local time (7 p.m. PT).

Reports indicate Ironici’s body showed signs that she had been beaten and burned. A 32-year-old man with whom Ironici had been in a relationship has been charged aggravated feminicide and transfemicide.

Ironici, 45, in 2012 became the first Trans person in Argentina to legally change their gender on their national ID document without a court order. She was also the first Trans woman to undergo sex reassignment surgery at a public hospital in the country.

Ironici was the first openly trans person elected to Santa Fe’s city government.

Activists who participated in a march in Santa Fe on Monday demanded justice for Ironici. 

Esteban Paulón, an LGBTQ+ and intersex activist in Argentina who lives in Santa Fe province, on Tuesday told the Washington Blade that he knew Ironici for more than 20 years.

Paulón said Ironici “more than anything was a militant, was a committed person who gave everything she had and more to the community.”

“She was one of the biggest motivators behind many of the advances that we have achieved in the province,” Paulón told the Blade.

“Alejandra Ironici’s femicide is evidence that machismo, patriarchy and violence is taking lives with impunity,” added Paulón. 

ATTTA (Asociación de Travestis, Transsexuales y Transgéneros de Argentina) in a statement noted Pancha Quebracha, a well-known drag queen in Mar del Plata, a city in Buenos Aires province, was found dead inside her home on Sunday. ATTTA pointed out violence and discrimination based on gender identity remains commonplace in Argentina, even though the country remains at the forefront of the global LGBTQ and intersex rights movement.

“The life expectancy for trans women in Argentina is 41 years,” said ATTTA. “Our community faces violent situations that often times end in transfemicides because of machismo and patriarchal impunity.”

ATTTA in its statement also calls upon Argentina’s government to strengthen existing laws that are designed to protect LGBTQ+ and intersex people and to implement “an agenda of public policies where nobody is left behind.”

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