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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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La Pesada Subversiva in Bolivia battles anti-LGBTQ digital hate

“In this region, far-right and ultra-religious narratives are prevalent, pushed by very conservative authorities”

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Members of La Pesada Subversiva in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. (Photo courtesy of La Pesada Subversiva)

By Gabriela Rodríguez Hernández and Siân Kavanagh | SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia – In Bolivia, the collective La Pesada Subversiva faced an onslaught of digital violence they could have never imagined after showcasing their LGBTQ artwork. Thanks to Hivos’ Digital Defenders Partnership, they received critical support and training to protect themselves, and now have tools to fight against online aggression.

La Pesada Subversiva (The Subversive Troublemakers), a trans, feminist, and sexually diverse collective in Bolivia, has emerged as a form of resistance to patriarchy and gender-based violence. Founded in 2018 in Santa Cruz, one of Bolivia’s most conservative regions, the collective uses various art forms — audiovisual, writing, street happenings, and social media content — to express their views in demonstrations, protests, and the virtual realm.

Cristian Egüez (he/him), one of the founders, explains, “In this region, far-right and ultra-religious narratives are prevalent, pushed by very conservative authorities. In such a tough context, collectives are needed with the courage to confront them and maintain a critical approach to the violence that occurs.” 

Pride Month and ensuing violence

The Altillo Benni Museum, the largest in the city, commemorated Pride Month for the first time on June 1, 2022. They opened an LGBTQ art exhibition called “Revolución Orgullo” or “Pride Revolution” led by La Pesada Subversiva. The collective’s groundbreaking LGBTQ art exhibition faced vehement opposition.

“We adorned the museum facade with trans and LGBTIQ+ flags,” Egüez recounts, “but it lasted less than a day because a group of neighbors came to protest violently and aggressively.” 

Despite this, the exhibition attracted over 400 visitors, demonstrating growing public support for their cause. 

Confronting online harassment

To the collective’s surprise, the museum’s director defended the exhibition, stating that no artwork would be removed, and the exhibition would remain until the end of the month. But then an unimaginable wave of digital violence hit them. Egüez recalls the aftermath: “The event left us emotionally devastated. Throughout that year, every day, we had to endure threats and harassment online.” 

Alejandra Menacho (she/her), another founder of La Pesada Subversiva, shares her experience, saying, “They threatened to rape me, to teach me how to be a woman. It overwhelmed us; it started to really hurt because we felt … everything we said or did was being surveilled.” The collective faced constant harassment on social media, with anti-rights groups monitoring their activities and scaring them with false threats.

Seeking protection from the Digital Defenders Partnership

As the onslaught escalated, the collective sought refuge and support. They applied for a grant from the DDP to get digital protection and security. With DDP’s assistance, they underwent comprehensive training in digital security measures, enabling them to protect their online presence effectively. The members learned to protect themselves and their accounts, not to publish certain things, and to be cautious about disclosing their whereabouts. DDP’s training gave them a comprehensive understanding of digital security tools and provided clear guidelines for dealing with future incidents and how to report them. 

In addition to these digital security skills, they learned physical self-defense techniques, blending martial arts with a feminist approach. 

“This has strengthened us immensely. Now we understand digital security holistically and are always safeguarding our networks,” Menacho emphasizes. 

Members of La Pesada Subversiva in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
(Photo courtesy of La Pesada Subversiva)

The ongoing struggle of online resilience

Despite the challenges, La Pesada Subversiva remains steadfast in their mission. 

“Digital security must be integrated across the board; it’s not something you attend a workshop for and forget. It must be practiced continually,” Egüez asserts. 

For Menacho, even though she has experienced a lot of frustration and anger, learning to combine these digital tools with psychology and art has helped her express themselves and achieve emotional balance. 

“Because we are rebellious, we want to do these things. Also, because we don’t want these injustices to continue in Santa Cruz. That’s why we keep coming back and reinventing ourselves,” Menacho said. 

La Pesada Subversiva’s journey exemplifies the resilience and determination of marginalized communities in the face of adversity. Through collective empowerment and solidarity, they navigate the complexities of digital violence, emerging stronger and more united in their pursuit of equality and justice. 

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The Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP), managed by Hivos, is an emergency grant mechanism for digital activists under threat launched by the Freedom Online Coalition in 2012. It provides a holistic response to digital threats and creates resilient and sustainable networks of support to human rights defenders.

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Argentina charges 10 police officers with murder of trans woman

The case has uncovered not only entrenched institutional violence, but also the ongoing struggle against impunity for hate crimes

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Mabel Valdez demands justice for her sister, Sofia Fernández (Courtesy photo)

By Esteban Rioseco | LA PLATA, Argentina – Argentine authorities have arrested 10 police officers and charged them with murdering a transgender woman in 2023.

In the historic development in the fight for LGBTQ justice in the country, the officers who were arrested on May 1 face murder and hate crime charges in connection with Sofia Fernández’s brutal death on April 11, 2023. The case has uncovered not only entrenched institutional violence, but also the ongoing struggle against impunity for hate crimes.

The initial investigation, which began last September, faced numerous obstacles, with only three points of expertise completed out of the 16 required for a formal indictment. Ignacio Fernandez, a lawyer who represents Sofia Fernández’s family, told the Washington Blade “the lack of confidence in the initial prosecutor and the need to recuse him marked the beginning of an arduous but vital legal battle.”

Ignacio Fernández described the long process to unravel the truth behind the brutal murder.

The legal and forensic teams faced numerous challenges that included coordination with gender-specialized prosecutors to the meticulous analysis of thousands of pieces of data on seized cell phones.

“The forensic report revealed the gruesome nature of the crime; Sofia was killed by asphyxiation with a piece of mattress and her own underwear, in addition to suffering beatings and physical torture,” Ignacio Fernández told the Blade. “The investigation also highlighted the alleged involvement of police officers in the crime, which triggered intense scrutiny of the conduct of law enforcement.” 

The indictment, according to Ignacio Fernandez, “not only covers the triple homicide, but also the cover-up and falsification of documents by seven other police officers.” 

“The application of a gender perspective in the judicial process has been crucial, underlining the importance of recognizing and addressing violence directed towards transgender people,” he added.

Ignacio Fernández represents Sofia Fernández’s family (Photo courtesy of Ignacio Fernández)

The road to justice, however, has been far from smooth. 

Despite the arrests, defense lawyers have requested the dismissal of certain charges, arguing the lack of hearings with the victim and rulings that could be questionable in their gender-specific perspective.

Sofia Fernández’s family, fearful for her safety, hopes the defendants will remain in pre-trial detention during the judicial process. They also yearn for a speedy and fair trial, aware that prolonged time may undermine the search for truth and justice.

Ignacio Fernández indicated “the inaction of the Ministry of Women of the province of Buenos Aires” is serious because “with Estela Diaz at the head, it is added that the defense lawyers of all the police officers charged and with a very clear conflict of interest are from the Directorate of Police Legal Counsel of the Ministry of Security of the province of Buenos Aires.”

Although the judicial investigation could take between two and four months, with possible delays due to legal appeals, it is estimated the trial could be delayed at least another year. The fight for justice, in the meantime, continues with the hope that Sofia Fernandez’s case will set a precedent in the fight against transphobic violence and impunity in Argentina.

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban 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.

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

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Peru classifies transgender people as mentally ill

President Dina Boluarte signed decree on May 10

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Government Palace in Lima, Peru (Photo courtesy of the Peruvian government)

LIMA, Peru — The Peruvian government on May 10 published a decree that classifies transgender people as mentally ill.

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday noted the country’s Essential Health Insurance Plan that President Dina Boluarte, Health Minister César Vásquez and Economic and Finance Minister José Arista signed references “ego-dystonic sexual orientation.” The decree also notes, among other things, “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorder in childhood.

Human Rights Watch in its press release notes the Health Ministry subsequently said it does not view LGBTQ identities as “illnesses.” Peruvian LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, however, have sharply criticized the decree.

“This decision is an alarming setback in our fight for the human rights of trans people in Peru, and it represents a serious danger to our health and well-being,” said Miluska Luzquiños, a trans activist who works with the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People, which is known by the Spanish acronym REDLACTRANS, on her Facebook page.

A lack of legal recognition and protections has left trans Peruvians vulnerable to discrimination and violence.

Luisa Revilla in 2014 became the first trans person elected in Peru when she won a seat on the local council in La Esperanza, a city in the northwestern part of the country. 

She left office in 2019. Revilla died from COVID-19 in 2021.

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Lesbian couple dead after arson attack in Buenos Aires

LGBTQ groups in Argentina described the blaze as a hate crime because he had already threatened to kill the women because they are lesbians

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Screenshot from Policía de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires [Buenos Aires City Police] video taken after the arson firebombing of the room in the boarding hotel where Pamela Cobbas, her partner Mercedes Roxana Figueroa, and temporarily Sofía Castro Riglos and Andrea Amarante lived in the Barracas neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Editor’s note: Andrea Amarante on Sunday died from injuries she sustained in the fire.

By Esteban Rioseco | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Two people died and at least five others were injured on Monday when a man threw a Molotov cocktail into the room of a Buenos Aires boarding house in which two lesbian couples lived.

The fire took place at around 1 a.m. in a house at 1600 Olavarría St., between Isabel la Católica and Montes de Ocoa in Buenos Aires’s Barracas neighborhood. The blaze forced roughly 30 people to evacuate, and the injured were taken to local hospitals.

Police say Justo Fernando Barrientos, 68, sprayed fuel and set fire to the room where Mercedes Figueroa, 52, lived together with Pamela Fabiana Cobas, 52, and Sofía Castro Riglos, 49, and Andrea Amarante, 42.

Figueroa and Cobas both died. Castro and Amarante are hospitalized at Penna Hospital in Buenos Aires.

Witnesses say the fire started on the second floor when Barrientos threw a Molotov cocktail inside the women’s room, and it soon spread throughout the property. LGBTQ organizations in Argentina have described the blaze as a hate crime because Barrientos had already threatened to kill the women because they are lesbians.

“We are in a rather complex context, where from the apex of power, the president himself and his advisors and downwards permanently instill a hate speech, instilling it when they close the (National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism or INADI), stigmatizing the population that is there and the vulnerable groups,” Congressman Esteban Paulón, a well-known LGBTQ activist, told the Washington Blade.

“All this is generating a climate of violence,” he said. “The fact that it happened in the city of Buenos Aires, which is terrible … has to be investigated.”

Paulón said President Javier Milei’s government has installed in the public discourse speeches and actions against the LGBTQ community that have provoked more violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“All that is installed … and then there are people who fail to make a mediation of that, that fail to make a critical analysis of that and can end up generating an act of hatred like this, which is tragic and that already took the lives of two people,” he said.

The Argentine LGBT+ Federation on social media said it was looking for the victims’ families and friends, but has yet to be able to connect with them.

“We are going to stand by them, making ourselves available for whatever they and their families need, and we will closely follow the court case so that there is justice,” said the organization. “But we cannot fail to point out that hate crimes are the result of a culture of violence and discrimination that is sustained on hate speeches that today are endorsed by several officials and referents of the national government.”

100% Diversidad y Derechos, another advocacy group, demanded the investigation address the attack “with a gender perspective and as motivated by hatred towards lesbian identity.”

Barrientos has been arrested, and will be charged with murder. Activists have requested authorities add discrimination and hate provisions to the charges.

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban 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.

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

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Argentina government dismisses trans public sector employees

“This sadism of … inflicting pain and speculating with your misfortune and so on … is something that characterizes Javier Milei’s government”

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Sofia Diaz protests her dismissal from her job at Argentina's National Social Security Administration. (Photo courtesy of Sofia Diaz)

By Esteban Rioseco | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Protests have broken out across Argentina in recent weeks after the dismissal of transgender people from their government jobs.

President Javier Milei’s action is in stark contract with the progress seen in 2023, where the government’s hiring of trans people increased by 900 percent within the framework of the Trans Labor Quota Law that had been in place since 2021. 

Among those affected is Sofia Diaz, a “survivor” who shared her testimony with the Washington Blade hours after she traveled from Chaco Province to Buenos Aires to protest her dismissal.

Presentes, an LGBTQ news agency, reported the government dismissed more than 85 trans employees in less than two weeks.

Diaz, 49, holds a degree in combined arts. She joined the National Social Security Administration (ANSES) in 2022 under the Trans Labor Inclusion Law. The layoffs began in January and left many people feeling uncertain and anguished. It was her turn a few days ago.

Diaz in an interview recounted how the situation became progressively more complicated, with difficulties in accessing information about her employment status and the eventual confirmation of dismissals through WhatsApp messages. This government action, according to Diaz, violates the law.

“We were on a Friday, I think on March 24, in the office and we have a WhatsApp group of other colleagues from all over Argentina who entered through the trans labor quota and they tell us if we can get our pay stubs on the intranet,” Diaz recalled. “So, I tried to enter, I could not, I talked to two other colleagues and they told me no, they could not, and so we went to another person. He couldn’t either.”

“Some people told us that it could be a system error. Well, we were never calm, let’s say not how this issue of installing fear and the perversion with which they do it ends,” she added. “This sadism of … inflicting pain and speculating with your misfortune and so on … is something that characterizes Javier Milei’s government.”

Diaz recalled a list of those dismissed from the agency began to circulate from the union in the afternoon. A colleague passed it on to her, “and well, unfortunately I was also on that list.” 

“At that moment the whole weekend went by with anguish, crying, and talking with other colleagues from other places, not only trans, but everyone, everyone and everyone,” she said. “On Monday when we went to try to enter, we could not enter with the biometric, which is the thumb we had to use every morning to enter.”

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Despite the difficult moment through which she is going, the trans activist stressed to the Blade that she will continue protesting and will even sue the government because her dismissal is illegal and “violates the constitution itself.”

The LGBTQ community and its allies have mobilized and organized demonstrations, highlighting the importance of defending the rights won and fighting against discrimination and exclusion. Diaz emphasized the fight is not only for the people affected today, but also for future generations, saying the historical memory of the struggles for inclusion and social justice must be kept alive.

“The Argentine government thus faces a key challenge in human and labor rights, where public pressure and social mobilization can play a determining role in protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people,” Diaz said. 

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban 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.

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

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Daniel Zamudio killer’s parole request denied by Commission

Zamudio’s mother, Jacqueline Vera, said after the commission rejected López’s request, “we as a family are calmer”

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Comisión de Libertad Condicional de Chile (Chilean Conditional Release [Parole] Commission) meeting in Santiago, Chile. (Photo Credit: Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos)

By Esteban Rioseco | SANTIAGO, Chile —  Chile’s Parole Commission on Tuesday rejected a request to allow one of the four men convicted of murdering Daniel Zamudio in 2012 to serve the remainder of his sentence outside of prison.

Raúl López Fuentes earlier this month asked the commission to release him on parole. Zamudio’s family and members of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBTQ rights group, had gone to court to block the request.

Among the arguments put forward that influenced the commission’s decision is what Movilh categorized as his “high risk of recidivism, linked to the adherence of an antisocial behavior with a tendency to minimize his acts transgressing social norms.” 

The commission pointed out that López has psychopathic traits because he is aware of the damage he did to Zamudio and his family. 

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“In addition, he maintains a high risk of violence, not being advisable to grant the benefit,” the report said.

Zamudio was a young Chilean man who became a symbol of the fight against homophobic violence in his country and around the world after López and three other young men with alleged ties to a neo-Nazi group beat him for several hours in Santiago’s San Borja Park on March 2, 2012. Zamudio succumbed to his injuries a few weeks later.

The attack sparked widespread outage in Chile and prompted a debate over homophobia in the country that highlighted the absence of an anti-discrimination law. Lawmakers in the months after Zamudio’s murder passed a law that bears Zamudio’s name.

López in 2013 received a 15-year prison sentence after he was convicted of killing Zamudio. Patricio Ahumada received a life sentence, while Alejandro Angulo Tapia is serving 15 years in prison. Fabían Mora received a 7-year prison sentence.

Daniel Zamudio’s mother, Jacqueline Vera. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Vera)

Zamudio’s mother, Jacqueline Vera, exclusively told the Washington Blade after the commission rejected López’s request that “we as a family are calmer.”

“Even with my husband we were in a lot of pain at the beginning. It was like a blow of very strong emotions, so we tried to stay calm because we still had to solve the problem,” Vera said. “We had four days to solve it.”

López will have to serve the remaining three years of his sentence before his release.

“I will continue working to improve the Zamudio Law and so that this murderer does not leave prison because he is a danger to society, he does not represent repentance and people like this cannot be free,” she said. “For the same reason, we have to work so that hate crimes have life imprisonment and that is what we will concentrate on.” 

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban 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.

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

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Convicted killer in Daniel Zamudio murder in Chile seeks parole

Zamudio’s death in March 2012 sparked outrage across Chile & prompted lawmakers to pass a hate crimes & anti-discrimination bill

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Daniel Zamudio’s mother, Jacqueline Vera. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Vera)

By Esteban Rioseco | SANTIAGO, Chile — One of the four men convicted of murdering a young gay man in the Chilean capital in 2012 is seeking parole.

Raúl López Fuentes in 2013 received a 15-year prison sentence after he was convicted of killing Daniel Zamudio.

Zamudio was a young Chilean man who became a symbol of the fight against homophobic violence in his country and around the world after López and three other young men with alleged ties to a neo-Nazi group beat him for several hours in Santiago’s San Borja Park on March 2, 2012. Zamudio succumbed to his injuries a few weeks later.

The attack sparked widespread outage in Chile and prompted a debate over homophobia in the country that highlighted the absence of an anti-discrimination law. Lawmakers in the months after Zamudio’s murder passed a law that bears Zamudio’s name.

Patricio Ahumada received a life sentence, while López and Alejandro Angulo Tapia are serving 15 years in prison. Fabían Mora Mora received a 7-year prison sentence.

López has asked the Seventh Santiago Guarantee Court to serve the last three years of his sentence on parole. Zamudio’s family and Jaime Silva, their lawyer who works with the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, oppose the request.

Movilh represented Zamudio’s family after his murder.

Zamudio’s mother, Jacqueline Vera, during an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade said López’s petition “provoked all the anguish, all the commotion of his time.” 

“It was very cruel because in fact two days before we were at Daniel’s grave, where it was 12 years since his death and the beating,” said Vera. “He really does not deserve it.”

“We have gone through very difficult moments,” she added.

The mother, who later created a foundation to eradicate discrimination in Chile, was emphatic in indicating that she and her family “do not accept the release of this guy because he is a danger to society and a danger to ourselves.” 

“At the last hearing where they were sentenced, they told us that we are going to remember them when they get out,” said Vera. “They threatened us with death. There is a video circulating on social networks where they were in front of me and they laughed and made fun of me. They told me that I remembered that I had three more children.”

Regarding the possibility that the Chilean justice system will allow López to serve the remaining three years of his sentence on parole, Vera said “with the benefits here in Chile, which is like a revolving door where murderers come and go, it can happen.” 

“In any case, I don’t pretend, I don’t accept and I don’t want (López) to get out, I don’t want (López) to get out there,” she said. “We are fighting for him not to get out there because I don’t want him to get out there. And for me it is not like that, they have to serve the sentence as it stands.”

LGBTQ Chileans have secured additional rights since the Zamudio Law took effect. These include marriage equality and protections for transgender people. Advocacy groups, however, maintain lawmakers should improve the Zamudio Law.

“We are advocating for it to be a firmer law, with more strength and more condemnation,” said Vera.

When asked by the Washington Blade about what she would like to see improved, she indicated “the law should be for all these criminals with life imprisonment.”

Daniel Zamudio’s death in March 2012 sparked outrage across Chile and prompted lawmakers to pass a hate crimes and anti-discrimination bill. (Photo courtesy of Fundación Daniel Zamudio.)

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban 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.

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

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Argentine president bans state institutions from using inclusive language

Activists condemn Javier Milei’s anti-LGBTQ policies

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Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Photo by meunierd/Bigstock)

By Esteban Rioseco | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — In a move that has generated concern and criticism throughout the country, Argentine President Javier Milei has announced government institutions can no longer use inclusive language and gender-specific references in their public policies.

This decision comes on top of other controversial measures, such as the closure of the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry, and an announcement to shutter the country’s National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism.

Former Diversity Undersecretary Alba Rueda, a Transgender woman who was the country’s special envoy for LGBTQ+ issues under former President Alberto Fernández’s government, and gay Congressman Esteban Paulón, in exclusive interviews with the Washington Blade discussed the impact of Milei’s announcement and the impact it will have on Argentine society in terms of human rights and protections for queer people.

“The State had been using the gender perspective and inclusive language to make visible the presence of women in key roles and to recognize nonbinary identities,” Rueda said. “This measure not only erases those advances, but also excludes people who are already recognized by the State in their nonbinary gender identities.” 

Rueda noted Congress more than a decade ago “passed the gender identity law, which states in its first article that the State will respect the gender identity of all persons. After changes were made in the structure of the State to be able to generate identity documents, a series of court rulings that recognize nonbinary people in their nonbinary identity arose in 2016, and this (and) that remained unresolved during the Macrista government without recognizing the identity of nonbinary people.” 

She pointed out Fernández’s government in 2021 issued Decree 746, which recognized “people with nonbinary identities, gender fluid and those who avoid naming their gender before the State.” 

“The State already recognizes this citizenship and here comes that the prohibition of inclusive language excludes in the way of naming people who are already recognized by the State and that effectively the recognition of their gender identity is the condition of not being binary,” said Rueda. “So, the decree is in force, the law is in force, there are nonbinary people with their documents, but who today are not being named in all state documents.” 

Paulón said the prohibition of inclusive language is a gesture of violence towards LGBTQ+ communities. 

“Inclusive language has given entity and identity to an important part of the Argentine population,” he said. “This measure represents an act of harassment and violence towards those who identify with inclusive language, including the queer and LGBTQ+ collective.”

“Language is a social and cultural construction, and in Argentina today inclusive language represents and has given entity and identity to an important segment of the population and to a series of social collectives,” added Paulón. “Therefore, something that is not created by decree can hardly be eliminated by decree.” 

The congressman told the Blade that Milei’s government announcement was “something that was clearly going to happen.” 

“I don’t see the government campaigning in inclusive language or celebrating diversity,” said Paulón. 

Milei’s decision has generated intense debate in Argentina, with critics arguing these measures represent a step backwards in the protection of human rights and an attack on diversity and inclusion. Milei’s supporters, on the other hand, defend these measures as part of an effort to promote conservative policies and reinforce national identity. 

“It is very serious because it limits the exercise of citizenship and affects the nonbinary population, women and the trans population that is not recognized within the gender binarism,” said Rueda. 

She noted Milei during his presidential campaign raised these issues, and has decided to implement policies that harm women and LGBTQ+ people.

“This is the gravity that is lived today in Argentina, that the Argentine head of state puts in confrontation and reduction of rights to women and LGBTIQ+ people,” Rueda added.

This ban on inclusive language and gender-specific policies has been announced against the context of increased political and social polarization in Argentina. With inflation at alarming levels and an economy in crisis, Milei’s government has sought to consolidate its base by adopting controversial measures that have generated division and unrest in Argentine society. 

“That is the institutional and democratic gravity today in Argentina, that the head of state attacks and creates internal enemies and that position is accompanied by the media, amplifying a negative message about our communities,” Rueda said. “Of course that translates into social networks, but it also translates into the attacks that we LGBTIQ+ people experience in the public sphere.”

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban 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.

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

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Argentinian President seeks to dismantle anti-discrimination agency

Critics of Milei’s government argue INADI’s closure is part of a strategy to consolidate power and repress dissent

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Argentinian President Javier Milei (left) is seen with supporters in San Nicolás de los Arroyos a city in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo Credit: Office of the President of Argentina)

By Esteban Rioseco | BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentinian President Javier Milei’s proposed closure of his country’s National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism has sparked widespread criticism among LGBTQ activists and human rights defenders.

Alba Rueda, the former Undersecretary of Diversity Policies in the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry who was also the country’s Special Representative on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity under Alberto Fernández’s government, and gay Congressman Esteban Paulón in exclusive interviews with the Washington Blade talked about the Feb. 22 announcement’s implications and the impact it will have on Argentine society at a time marked by an acute economic, political and social crisis.

Rueda said INADI’s closure is a serious setback in the fight against discrimination and the advancement of human rights in Argentina. 

“INADI is a human rights agency that has been in force in Argentina for almost 30 years, which emerged as a response to the international attacks we suffered,” she pointed out. “This body has been fundamental in the attention of discrimination cases, including strategic litigation such as the (murder) of Diana Sacayán (a prominent transgender rights activist) in 2015.” 

Paulón said INADI’s closure is part of a broader policy of harassment towards diversity and state institutions that Milei’s government has carried out.

“INADI, along with the already eliminated Women Ministry, has been fundamental in the defense of the rights of LGBTQ+ and queer people,” said Paulón.

“In practical facts, the government cannot close INADI because INADI has been created by a law and it would require another law to close it,” he added. “Therefore, it has been raised that there is going to be a restructuring of personnel, a readjustment of resources that are going to continue processing complaints, but that they are going to pass to the orbit of the Justice Ministry, where INADI already is, but let’s say, they would pass without the institutionalism and that it would remain as an empty shell until the government achieves the consensus of a law to eliminate.”

Both agreed that INADI’s closure represents a serious setback in the protection of human rights in Argentina and a threat to the most vulnerable groups in society, including LGBTQ people. They also stressed Milei’s government has used this announcement as part of a broader strategy to dismantle democratic institutions and the country’s human rights agenda.

INADI cannot be closed unilaterally, despite the announcement, because a law created it and another statute would be required to dismantle it. There are, however, concerns the government may attempt to dismantle the institution or reduce its operational capacity.

“The decision to close INADI responds to an ideological position,” said Rueda. “They believe that INADI is the policeman of this, the ideological policeman. It is a body that functions autonomously whose president is appointed by the Congress and which also has a board of directors of social organizations.”

Critics of Milei’s government argue INADI’s closure is part of a strategy to consolidate power and repress dissent. They say the government is using the economic crisis as a pretext to implement authoritarian measures that limit civil liberties and weaken democratic institutions.

Milei’s supporters, on the other hand, defend the move as part of a broader effort to reduce public spending and promote liberal economic policies. They argue INADI’s closure is necessary to eliminate waste and corruption in government, and that its impact on human rights and LGBTQ protection is overstated.

“For LGTB people in particular, the closure of INADI would leave us without a place where we could basically receive attention in the face of discrimination,” Rueda pointed out. “And another issue that INADI also did is that it generated public policy recommendations or developed public policies for the prevention and awareness of these changes that have to take place in society.”

“So, not only do we run out of spaces for denunciation, but also of where to change this culture of discrimination, culture of discrimination that are present in the labor market that Milei presents or points out to you, as a success and that this is self-regulated,” she added. 

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Photo Credit: Movilh

Esteban 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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Authorities arrest alleged masterminds of Rio councilwoman’s murder

Marielle Franco and her driver killed on March 14, 2018

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Marielle Franco (Facebook photo)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian authorities on Sunday arrested two people who they say masterminded the 2018 murder of Rio de Janeiro Municipal Councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver.

The Associated Press reported the country’s federal police arrested Congressman Chiquinho Brazão and his brother, former Rio de Janeiro Legislative Assemblyman Domingos Brazão, who advises the state’s Audits Court. Authorities on Sunday also took into custody former Rio police chief Rivaldo Barbosa and charged him with obstruction of justice.

Authorities say two former fire fighters — Elcio de Queiroz and Ronnie Lessa — shot Franco and Anderson Gomes in Rio’s Lapa neighborhood on March 14, 2018.

Franco, a bisexual woman and single mother of African descent, grew up in Maré, a favela in the northern part of Rio that is close to the city’s international airport. Franco, among other things, was an outspoken critic of police raids in Rio’s favelas that have left hundreds of people dead.

Authorities last July arrested Maxwell Simões Correia, a former firefighter who allegedly hid the guns that De Queiroz and Lessa used to shoot Franco and Gomes. The Brazilian Supreme Court last week approved a plea agreement into which Lessa entered. 

The AP reported Federal Justice Minister Ricardo Lewandowski at a press conference told reporters the Brazão brothers have “multiple interests” and Chiquinho Brazão, who was a member of the Rio Municipal Council in 2018, was angry about Franco’s bill that would have zoned land for public housing in the city. The Brazão brothers also have reported ties to militias in the city.

“At this moment we have it very clear who are the perpetrators of this hateful, heinous crime of political nature,” said Lewandowski.

Franco’s widow, Mônica Benício, who was elected to the Rio Municipal Council in 2020, discussed the status of the investigation with the Washington Blade during a March 2022 interview in Rio.

“The struggle for justice to find out who ordered the murder and how high up they were indicates we are still far from knowing,” said Benício.

Franco’s family in a statement said their fight for justice will continue.

“This case reflects the structural impunity in cases of crimes committed by agents or former agents of the State against the lives of human and civil rights defenders, such as Marielle and Anderson Gomes, segments of society that suffer widespread damage to rights in society and have structural difficulty in accessing justice,” it reads.

Domingos Brazão’s lawyer has denied the allegations against his client, saying he “did not know Marielle.” Chiquinho Brazão and Barbosa have also proclaimed their innocence. 

The three men, who were arrested in Rio, will be transferred to Brasília, the country’s capital.

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