By Esteban Ríoseco | VALPARAÍSO, Chile — The Chilean Congress on Wednesday rejected a complaint against openly gay Education Minister Marco Antonio Ávila that a group of conservative lawmakers filed against him.
President Gabriel Boric himself denounced and repudiated the series of homophobic statements against his Cabinet member.
The traditional right and the extreme right voted as a block in favor of dismissing Ávila. They accused him of infringing upon parents’ rights to educate their children and failing to fulfill his responsibilities to address an alleged “deep educational crisis.”
Lawmakers voted 78-69 to reject the complaint that 10 conservative lawmakers filed.
Four of the complaint’s seven chapters contained references to the Education Ministry’s gender or sexual education policies they said Ávila implemented. These policies, however, have been in place since leftist President Michelle Bachelet and right-wing President Sebastián Piñera were in office.
“I have never broken the laws or (violated) the constitution,” said Ávila after the vote. “I am a firm defender of democracy, of the constitution and of the tools it contains to control and improve the actions of authorities. But I am also certain that it is through constructive dialogue that the vast majority of those of us who participate in politics can move forward to improve the lives of hundreds and thousands of students, children and young people.”
Boric on Twitter reiterated his rejection of the accusation against Ávila and once again emphasized those who brought it showed “homophobic character.”
“The constitutional complaint against the Education Minister and professor Marco Ávila is the fourth filed by the right wing in less than a year and a half of government has been rejected,” wrote Boric. “Its lack of legal support and homophobic character were on display. Justice and reason have triumphed.”
Congress seemed poised to approve the complaint until the lawmakers who introduced it invited Christian Legislative Observatory Director Marcela Aranda to testify against Ávila.
Aranda is the former spokesperson of the Freedom Bus, which Hazte Oir, an ultra-Catholic organization from Spain, brought to Chile in 2017.
She testified that Avila’s “LGTBIQ+ activism and his condition has exceeded the limit of what is private.” Congresswoman María Luisa Cordero accused Ávila of encouraging child perversion.
“I find it unusual, inadmissible, nauseating and disgusting that the Minister of Education … is concerned about the incitement to sexuality and whether they have an active and reactive clitoris … I would have already asked for the famous Ávila to be imprisoned for inciting precocity and child sexual perversion if he were not Education Minister,” said the congresswoman.
She added Ávila “is a fatty liver patient with high bilirubin levels.”
“This attacks the neurons and causes mental incompetence,” said Cordero. “He is a person about whom nobody worries because he should be evaluated physically and biologically.”
Ávila (and his ministry), according to Cordero “has a perverse preoccupation with the sexual anticipation and development of schoolchildren.”
“They are a bunch of perverts who work from the crotch.”
Her statements, which El Mercurio, Chile’s leading conservative newspaper, and LGBTQ+ and intersex organizations documented, made lawmakers from Evópoli, a center-right party, and from the center-left Christian Democracy Party, which is not part of the government, reevaluate whether to vote in favor of dismissing Ávila. The coalitions votes were key.
The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation condemned the anti-gay statements.
“The statements of these people, especially Cordero, are clearly a response to the minister’s sexual orientation and the policies of the Education Ministry to promote LGBTIQ+ human rights,” said Movilh. “These are homophobic speeches that go as far as the irrationality of insulting an authority with child abuse just for being gay.”
Fundación Iguales Executive Director María José Cumplido told the Washington Blade “it is very good news that the constitutional complaint has been rejected because it had no legal arguments and instead was a ruse to personally attack the minister for his sexual orientation. Therefore, from Fundación Iguales’ persepctive we celebrate that there has been a rejection to those homophobic attacks that personally attacked Minister Ávila.”
Emilia Schneider, a pro-government congresswoman, pointed out to the Blade that “the constitutional accusation against Minister Antonio Ávila was rejected for being an accusation without legal grounds, based on lies and homophobia.”
Schneider is the first Transgender woman to win a seat in the Chilean Congress.
“It is a very good sign that the National Congress in its majority is not supportive of this civilizational setback, I regret that we have wasted time in this show of the right and ultra-right,” Schneider emphasized.
Finally, Ávila said that “my call today, after this accusation, is to improve (the treatment of people) in the political world, to respect each other beyond differences, not to turn the fair differences between one and the other into personal attacks.”
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LGBTQ+ group urges Chileans to vote against proposed constitution
Fundación Iguales says proposal does not sufficiently protect community
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.
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
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.
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 .
Chilean activist Luis Larraín dies at 42
Former congressional candidate diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January
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.”
Sus palabras de despedida las dejó registradas en este video, momentos antes de partir. Gracias Luis por todo lo que nos entregaste. Tu trabajo y tu corazón nos inspirarán siempre. pic.twitter.com/iaZDkatFaS
— Fundación Iguales (@IgualesChile) November 18, 2023
“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.
More than 1 million people attend Buenos Aires Pride march
Presidential election’s second round to take place on Nov. 19
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.
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.
Trans Venezuelan presidential candidate’s campaign an ‘important step’
Tamara Adrián endorsed opposition leader who won Oct. 22 primary
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.”
Prominent LGBTQ+ activist elected to Argentina’s Congress
Esteban Paulón will represent Santa Fe province
BY ESTEBAN RIOSECO | ROSARIO, Argentina — A prominent LGBTQ+ activist in Argentina on Sunday won a seat in the country’s Congress.
Esteban Paulón, who lives in Rosario, a city in Santa Fe province, is the former president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender People. The Santa Fe Socialist Party member finished first on La Fuerza de Santa Fe ticket.
“I feel an enormous joy and responsibility,” Paulón exclusively told the Washington Blade after officials announced the results. “I get to represent on the one hand the Socialist Party that has a history of more than 127 years in Argentina … and in turn my province and the LGBT community.”
Paulón noted he was the only openly gay candidate in the election.
“I am going to defend my community, to represent the Socialist Party and to resist the pretensions of the most reactionary and conservative sectors of Argentina that have entered Congress with force in this election, regardless of the fact that the presidency has not yet been defined,” he said.
Massa, Milei to face off in presidential election’s second round
Economy Minister Sergio Massa on Sunday won 36.68 percent of the votes in the first round of the country’s presidential election. Libertarian economist Javier Milei received 29.98 percent of the vote.
The two men will face off in the election’s second round that will take place on Nov. 19 because neither one on Sunday received more than 45 percent of the votes or at least 40 percent and a difference of at least 10 percentage points over the runner-up.
Massa, the ruling Peronism party’s candidate, to the surprise of many election observers won center-left votes. He will compete for the presidency without being bogged down by the fact that he oversees the economy of a country with an inflation rate of nearly 140 percent.
Milei has proposed dollarizing the economy and abolishing Argentina’s Central Bank, among other radical measures.
The winner of the presidential election will have to tackle the economic crisis and $44 billion in debt to the International Monetary Fund.
Paulón, along with LGBTQ+ activists, expressed concern that so many Argentines voted for Milei, who opposes marriage equality and trans rights. They also note he has pledged to close the country’s Women, Genders and Diversity Ministry.
“Milei’s advance is a concrete risk because he has said it concretely, he has specifically had anti-rights proposals,” said Paulón. “The Socialist Party, for our part, will never support Miley’s candidacy.”
“Milei’s negationist, homophobic, misogynist and anti-rights discourse obviously represents a risk because it has been installed in the public debate,” he added. “We have to work now so that he does not become president.”
Paulón told the Blade that Milei’s rise is due to “the social discontent in Argentina, an economic situation that is not recovering, concrete difficulties for many people and Javier Milei appears as an emergent of something that comes from outside the system and that should come to change everything.”
“That coming from outside and showing himself as someone outside the political system is very much associated with everything that has to do with verbal violence, physical violence, denial of the other,” said Paulón. “His whole campaign is based on violence, but the crisis is indeed so deep that an important part of the population has decided to vote for him.”
LGBTQ+ activists continue fight for equality in Uruguay
LGBTQ organizations and activists in Uruguay continue to carry out a series of initiatives and projects designed to help the community
By Esteban Rioseco | MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – In a country that has historically been considered a vanguard in terms of human rights and recognition of sexual diversity in South America, Uruguay’s activists continue to emphasize the importance of continuing to fight for the effective implementation of policies that will improve LGBTQ people’s lives.
Various marches took place across the country last month, 30 years after Uruguay’s first queer rights demonstration. The march in Montevideo, the country’s capital, was the last of these protests that took place.
Nicolás Pizarro and Daniela Buquet of Coordinadora de la Marcha por la Diversidad and Diego Sempol, a political scientist and supporter of various organizations, in a series of exclusive interviews with the Washington Blade offered an in-depth look at Uruguay’s LGBTQ community’s current situation and the challenges it faces.
Progressive laws, incomplete implementation
Uruguay has been a pioneer in the region in terms of the implementation of laws that protect the rights of LGBTQ people. They include the Comprehensive Law for Trans Persons; the Law on the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy; the Law Against Racism, Xenophobia and all forms of Discrimination, and the Law on Gender-Based Violence. Uruguay’s marriage equality law took effect in 2013.
These laws have been the result of the hard work of social movements and activists who have fought tirelessly for equality and justice. Their effective implementation, however, remains a challenge.
Pizarro points out a lack of budget and political will has hindered the full realization of these public policies.
“Uruguay is in a difficult political context today, where the right-wing government is cutting budgets and pursuing a regressive agenda in (terms of) human rights legislation,” Pizarro told the Blade.
He said this situation has led to LGBTQ people having to lobby and take to the streets to demand that existing laws be enforced and the necessary resources be allocated to do so.
Sempol, meanwhile, indicated “the movement’s current demands are linked to the effective enforcement of the laws in all their terms and that economic resources are actually allocated to strengthen public policies.”
Pride march participants denounce impunity
Montevideo’s Pride march is an emblematic event that brings together thousands of people every year to celebrate diversity and demand equal rights.
Buquet explained this year’s demonstration happened under the slogan “Basta de impunidad y saqueo de derechos” or “Enough impunity and plundering of rights.” It reflects the LGBTQ community’s concerns over the obstacles they face in the search for equality and justice.
One of this year’s march highlights was the denunciation of the lack of governmental will to advance investigations into those who disappeared during Uruguay’s military dictatorship from 1973-1985. The LGBTQ community has joined this struggle, demanding justice for victims and accountability on the part of the State.
The march also sought to address a number of fundamental demands: Access to health care, education, work and housing without discrimination. The lack of budget to implement the gender-based violence and trans rights laws was an additional concern.
“We believe it is essential to denounce the cuts in public policies that leave the most vulnerable populations adrift,” Buquet told the Blade, specifically referring to the transgender rights law that has yet to be fully implemented. “They (trans people) continue to be one of the populations in the worst socioeconomic situations, they do not have access to jobs, they do not have access to education and health professionals still do not have the necessary training, which means that access to health care continues to be violated.”
Pizarro pointed out “the sex-identity dissidences continue without access to health, culture, education, work and housing without being discriminated against.”
Initiatives seek to help LGBTQ Uruguayans
LGBTQ organizations and activists in Uruguay continue to carry out a series of initiatives and projects designed to help the community, despite the challenges and obstacles.
Pizarro noted Colectivo Diverso Las Piedras works in the Public Policy Council for Sexual Diversity to ensure the comprehensive implementation of existing laws that include the creation of assistance plans for LGBTQ people with a special focus on trans people who are in vulnerable situations. The group is also committed to training and raising awareness in places that include educational and institutional centers.
Colectivo Diverso Las Piedras works closely with other social movements in Canelones department and across the country to promote inclusive and equitable public policies.
One outstanding project on which it is working is “Trans Memories and Authoritarianisms” in collaboration with Diego Sempol, who is a professor and researcher at the Faculty of Social Services, and other organizations. project seeks to make visible the experiences of trans women detained and tortured during the Uruguayan dictatorship, shedding light on a dark period in the country’s history and highlighting the importance of an intersectional perspective when analyzing the recent past.
Pizarro told the Blade “the most important thing is to show the state that our rights are systematically violated.”
“Fifty years after the coup d’état in Uruguay we denounce the government’s unwillingness to move forward in the investigations of disappeared detainees, wanting to take human rights violators to serve their sentences at home and installing a false story of the two demons about this period, wanting to remove the responsibility of the State in crimes against humanity,” he said.
Sempol explained this reconstruction milestone “has a lot to do with the emergence of a memory, of a memory, of the gender dissidence that is trying to bet on reconstructing the past and somehow, to give this temporality to the struggles and to the identity of LGBTQ+ people in Uruguay. So there is a process of reconstruction, of a memory.”
Esteban Rioseco is the Latin America correspondent for Washington Blade. He is based in Concepción Province, Biobío Region, Chile.
‘Las Locas del 73’ documents historic LGBTQ+ rights protest in Chile
Demonstration took place months before 1973 coup
By ESTEBAN RIOSECO | SANTIAGO, Chile — In a year of deep reflection and commemoration of two crucial moments in Chile’s history, “Las Locas del 73” documents the 50th anniversary of the country’s first gay rights march that took place months before the 1973 coup.
Victor Hugo Robles, who is also known as El Che de los Gays, co-directed the documentary with documentarian Carolina Espinoza that Sociedad Sonora, a production company, helped release in Chile and Spain on April 22, the 50th anniversary of the protest. The documentary has proven to be a resounding success, and film festivals in several countries are planning to screen it in the coming months.
This documentary is a doubly significant tribute.
It not only tells the courageous story of a group of gay and Transgender Chileans who, on April 22, 1973, protested against social discrimination and police repression, but also highlights the intricate connection between this struggle and the traumatic coup that forever changed Chile’s destiny.
Raquel, Eva, Larguero, Romané, José Caballo, Vanesa, Fresia Soto, Confort, Natacha, Peggy Cordero and Gitana were the protagonists of what the media at the time described as the scandalous demonstration that took place in Santiago’s Plaza de Armas, a commercial area that families frequented on Sundays, on that fall Sunday afternoon. The coup took place less than five months later, on Sept. 11, 1973.
Most LGBTQ+ Chileans at that time were in the closet.
Discrimination was so widespread that nobody dared to publicly disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. (Consensual same-sex sexual relations were punishable with prison until their decriminalization in the country’s penal code in 1999.) Police at that time routinely raided private meetings of LGBTQ+ people and “indecency” arrests were commonplace.
While the media at the time highly publicized the iconic protest, it was something of an urban myth among LGBTQ+ Chileans until the 1990s. It was said a “group of crazy women” had staged a rebellion in the 1970s, but there was no clarity about the exact date. It seemed to be a story without protagonists, a local legend subject to exaggerations and reversions.
It was this ambiguity that aroused Robles’ curiosity, and he began to investigate and reconstruct the episode.
“I heard many stories that there had been a gay protest during the time of Salvador Allende, but no one was certain,” Robles told the Washington Blade. “I spent a lot of time researching this protest. It took me a long time. I would say it took me more than a year, almost two years to find the exact moment because I had to go to the newspapers of that time. You had to ask for them at the library and go through them newspaper by newspaper, month by month, and it took a long time to fetch the newspapers from the warehouse.”
He added that “everything is now digitized, but at that time nothing (was), so I started to check the newspaper because everything was in the newspaper itself.”
“Everyone talks about Clarín, which was the most important newspaper of the time, with a huge circulation. It was a popular media outlet; with sarcastic, direct, ironic, humorous language,” said Robles. “Then I started to look at Clarín, month by month, in 1970, 1971 and 1972.”
Robles told the Blade he was already giving up in his search when a friend gave him a clue that would end up uncovering valuable information for the reconstruction of the history of the Chilean LGBTQ+ movement.
“I was almost giving up until a friend gave me the tip about Paloma magazine, which was the leftist magazine of the time, a communist magazine, and that’s where the protest had come out,” said Robles. “He remembered having read it there.”
He recalled his expectations increased again after this revelation because he knew that that magazine had fewer editions — one per month, which increased the chances of finding what he was looking for more quickly.
“That’s when I came across the news. It said: ‘Homosexuals on the offensive.’ A very small article and … they pointed out the exact date. That demonstration, that protest, then appeared and it was dated Sunday, April 22, 1973.″
“Immediately, with the date in hand, I went to Clarín newspaper and, indeed, it was there. It was on the front page two days after the protest took place, on April 24, 1973,″ he recalled emotionally.
That front page to which the Chilean journalist referred exposed the existing homophobia in society.
“Homosexuals ask for the moon,” read Clarín’s headline.
Clarín was a progressive, leftist newspaper that supported President Salvador Allende.
The newspaper’s slogan proclaimed it was “on the people’s side.” Pinochet’s dictatorship immediately shut down Clarín after the coup.
“The loose mares, lost madwomen, anxious for publicity, launched headlong, met to demand that the authorities give them a chance, a shot and a side for their deviations,” read the Clarín article about the protest.
The police did not show up, even though the meeting had been well publicized.
The media reports continued with more insidiousness.
“At first the sodomites, believing that the police contingent would fall on them at every moment, were cautious. But they quickly loosened their braids … and launched themselves, demonstrating that the freedom they demand is nothing more than licentiousness. Homosexuals, among other things, want legislation to allow them to get married and do a thousand and one things without police persecution. What a mess that would be. No wonder an old man proposed spraying them with kerosene and throwing a lit match at them,” wrote Clarín.
Newspaper reports said mothers covered their children’s eyes so that “they would not witness such a horrendous spectacle.”
But it was not only in Clarín.
“I realized that it had been covered by quite a few media outlets, by the Puro Chile newspaper, for example. It also appeared later on the cover of Vea magazine, which was very important at the time,” said Robles.
That demonstration marked a turning point in the struggle for the rights of sexual minorities in Chile, a path that remains relevant and valid to this day. The film pays tribute to the brave activists who, for the first time in Chilean history, stood up against social discrimination and social repression.
La Medallita, Brenda, Marco Ruiz and Marcela Dimonti are among those who narrate the documentary.
Dimonti, besides being a prominent figure in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights, was a prisoner inside the National Stadium after the coup.
Far-right political coalition takes control of Chile’s constitutional council
Activists fear LGBTQ, intersex rights could be at risk
BY ESTEBAN RÍOSECO | VALPARAÍSO, Chile — In a twist that raises concerns about LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in Chile, the body charged with writing the country’s new constitution is now under the control of a far-right political coalition that former presidential candidate José Antonio Kast leads.
Compared to the progressive approach that had characterized the previous Constitutional Convention, the change in the composition and the Republican Party’s control of the constitutional council raises serious concerns.
The former council demonstrated a willingness to address equality and nondiscrimination, including the rights of LGBTQ+ and intersex people. With the Republican Party in control, however, there have been warnings of potential pushback on hate speech and constitutional protections for queer people.
“The current constitutional process is the last effort to replace the current constitution, which, with all the modifications it has undergone, is still the one built during the dictatorship and reformed with the rules established by the dictatorship,” Gaspar Domínguez, an openly gay man who was the vice president of the previous Constitutional Convention, told the Washington Blade.
Chile’s LGBTQ+ and intersex community for years has been fighting for recognition and equal right, and it is increasingly fearful the Republican Party could thwart these efforts. Marriage equality, nondiscrimination and recognition of gender identity could be at risk.
Chileans in December will have to return to the polls to approve or reject the constitutional council’s proposal. If rejected, the current constitution that dates back to Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship and caused widespread social upheaval in 2019 will remain in force.
Domínguez explained “the text that will be submitted to plebiscite at the end of the year will be the result of the deliberation and voting on the amendments of the constitutional council, which is composed mostly by conservative sectors of the Chilean society that opposed the decriminalization of sodomy in 1999, opposed the divorce law in 2004, that have opposed same-sex marriage bills over the last two decades and that have been linked to the most conservative sectors of the right, to the Catholic and Evangelical churches.”
“Considering this political scenario, it is a real option that the proposal to be voted on at the end of the year constitutes a threat to the civilizational advances that have allowed the LGBTIQ+ community to grow in equality,” he noted.
María Pardo, a constitutional lawyer with “Unity for Chile,” the pro-government bloc within the council that champions queer issues, told the Blade “we are in a political context that has led us to write a shorter constitution and with a much more conservative and majority opposition than the previous period that wants to go backwards or not to advance on these issues for different reasons that they use. They consider, for example, that historically oppressed groups enjoy privileges. Faced with sectors (that have) a clear anti-women and anti-sexual diversity agenda, we have to confront them.”
Pardo’s coalition did not present amendments with explicit references to LGBTQ+ and intersex people because “we did not present aspects as specific as in the convention, but we did present aspects tending to nondiscrimination and recognition of historically vulnerable groups. In this sense, we consider fundamental the development of the so feared, by the right wing, Comprehensive Sexual Education (ESI), as the basis for children and adolescents to feel integrated in safe spaces of development and conversation, leaving out discriminatory stereotypes. In this sense, we insist that comprehensive sexual education is a human right and not a sole and exclusive responsibility of families.”
Gloria Hutt, a constitutional advisor for Evópoli, a center-right political party that supports LGBTQ and intersex rights, indicated the nondiscrimination amendment is not at risk.
“My impression is that it should indeed be approved in the plenary, because it is an obvious right the protection of people’s rights and an element of nondiscrimination,” she told the Blade. “At least, I don’t have the impression that it is at risk.”
Hutt, who was a former minister in President Sebastián Piñera’s government, argues the “lack of mention of specific groups” in the draft constitution “has to do mainly with the fact that the identification of elements of inclusion or nondiscrimination are very many. So, in the constitution, what is left is the general principle and not the specific mention of each one of the groups. That is why nondiscrimination is maintained as a principle, but without specifying the type of discrimination, but of course, sexual orientation.”
Fundación Iguales, a Chilean LGBTQ+ and intersex rights organization, said they are closely watching the debate over the new constitution and how it will impact queer people.
“We are monitoring the work with concern,” Mauricio Henríquez, the group’s legal director, told the Blade. “Extreme conservative discourses could directly harm the rights of LGBTI+ people.”
Henríquez added “historically, the conservative ultra-right has opposed the recognition and protection of the rights of sexual and gender diversity. They were against the Civil Union Agreement, equal marriage, the regulation of gender Identity, etc. So, given this background and the harsh comments expressed by some councilors regarding rights and freedoms in the last weeks, it would not be surprising that the constituent drafting would take the same course as the aforementioned rights.”
Henríquez finally pointed out that “more than a setback, there is a kind of invisibilization of historically discriminated groups, including LGBTI+ people.”
“Here it is important to make clear that the state of Chile and the inhabitants of this country already have a commitment to sexual and gender diversity that no political sector, no matter how conservative or extremist it may be, can deny,” he said. “For this reason, the call we make from Fundación Iguales is that the constitutional advisors legislate looking at the reality of a country that day by day advances in freedom, development and protection of human rights.”
Brazil’s Supreme Court rules homophobia punishable by prison
Justices on Monday issued near unanimous decision
BRASÍLIA, Brazil — The Brazilian Supreme Federal Court this week ruled homophobia now punishable with up to five years in prison.
The justices on Monday ruled by a 9-1 margin. Their decision equates homophobia to racism in terms of prison time.
The Supreme Federal Court in 2019 criminalized homophobia and transphobia. The Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Travestis, Transsexuals and Intersex People petitioned for additional protections and penalties.
“Such a decision brings legal certainty and reinforces the court’s understanding with regard to the principle of equality and nondiscrimination,” said the National LGBTI+ Alliance, a Brazilian LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group, in a statement. “It is an important step in the civilizing process and in the fight against hatred in Brazilian society.”
Congresswoman Erika Hilton, who is Transgender, in a tweet described the ruling as a “victory against LGBTphobia.”
The Supreme Federal Court issued its ruling less than eight months after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office.
His predecessor, former President Jair Bolsonaro, faced sharp criticism over his rhetoric against LGBTQ+ and intersex Brazilians and other groups.
Bolsonaro, among other things, encouraged fathers to beat their sons if they come out as gay and claimed people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are at increased risk for AIDS. The country’s Federal Police last August urged prosecutors to charge Bolsonaro with incitement over his COVID-19 claim.
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