Connect with us

South America

Chilean activist Luis Larraín dies at 42

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

Published

on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

South America

Peru classifies transgender people as mentally ill

President Dina Boluarte signed decree on May 10

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

South America

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

Published

on

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.

******************************************************************************************

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.

Continue Reading

South America

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”

Published

on

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.”

Related

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. 

******************************************************************************************

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.

Continue Reading

South America

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”

Published

on

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. 

related

“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.” 

******************************************************************************************

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.

Continue Reading

South America

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

Published

on

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.)

******************************************************************************************

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.

Continue Reading

South America

Argentine president bans state institutions from using inclusive language

Activists condemn Javier Milei’s anti-LGBTQ policies

Published

on

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.”

******************************************************************************************

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.

Continue Reading

South America

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

Published

on

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. 

******************************************************************************************

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 .

Continue Reading

South America

Authorities arrest alleged masterminds of Rio councilwoman’s murder

Marielle Franco and her driver killed on March 14, 2018

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

South America

Chilean government urged to advance comprehensive sex education bill

Advocacy group sent request to Education Minister Claudio Cataldo

Published

on

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

By Esteban Rioseco | SANTIAGO, Chile — A Chilean advocacy group has submitted an urgent request to Education Minister Claudio Cataldo that urges President Gabriel Boric’s government to promote a comprehensive sex education bill.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation asserts the implementation of a comprehensive sex education curriculum is essential to ensuring all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have access to an inclusive education without discrimination. The group also argues inclusive guidelines are crucial to promoting sexual and reproductive health and preventing gender-based violence and bullying.

“We met with the minister of education to ask him to promote a comprehensive sexual education bill, since it is of utmost importance that children and adolescents have this type of education,” Movilh spokesperson Javiera Zuñiga told the Washington Blade. “In addition, there is a commitment on the part of the state of Chile that was acquired in the Friendly Settlement Agreement before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the demand of equal marriage, where the State commits itself to generate education policies.”

Zuñiga explained that “comprehensive sex education addresses several issues that are not dealt with in Chile today, which have to do not only with sexual orientation or gender identity, but also often have to do with knowing the body, being able to have tools to deal with abuse and also to know about sexually transmitted diseases. It is a wide range of topics that our children and adolescents today do not have access to know.” 

The request comes at a crucial moment amid the ongoing debate over sex education in Chile.

The lack of a comprehensive policy has generated concern among various sectors of society, especially among LGBTQ+ organizations and human rights activists who have pointed out the urgent need to implement concrete measures to address this issue.

Faced with this new debate, Emilia Schneider, the country’s first Transgender member of Congress, told the Blade she thinks “it is very good that Movilh joins many organizations that have been demanding and working for CSE (comprehensive sex education) for years in Chile.” These groups include Apofa, the Feminist Teachers Network and Chile Necesita CSE.

“I believe that their request is correct in the sense that comprehensive sexual education is necessary and is demanded by the educational communities themselves,” said Schneider. 

Cataldo in response to Movilh’s request has expressed his willingness to dialogue and collaborate in the elaboration of a comprehensive bill. The government has yet to announce any concrete measures it plans to take to advance it. 

Schneider explained that “for me CSE is a central issue, it has always been and I have been working for it for years.” 

“Of course, my commitment remains intact,” she said. “There are already many bills on comprehensive sex education, which shows that it is a long debate that is still open in Chile. There is even a bill that (former President Sebastián Piñera)’s education minister, Marcela Cubillos, presented, and one from Republicans. I would call on the different sectors to sit down and reach an agreement once and for all before sending me an individual (bill.)” 

Organizing Trans Diversities President Ignacia Oyarzún told the Blade that “all the needs we have as a community are urgent and are a priority and unfortunately all these urgencies are for yesterday.” 

“We are talking about laws and regulations that protect the human rights of a community that has been historically violated,” said Oyarzún. “We are talking about a community that has been exterminated throughout history, both by society and by regulations. So we are talking about a community that deserves special protection”.

With regard to eventual support for this bill in Congress, Schneider pointed out that “unfortunately, the scenario for the CSE is very difficult.” 

“That is why we have to be very strategic in order to move forward,” she said. “There is an international organization of the ultra-right to prevent us from advancing in this very important right, organizations such as Con Mis Hijos No Te Metas in other countries have even been associated with serious cases of child abuse. One wonders who they are defending. Either they are with the children and youth who are safer and protected with information and accompaniment or they are on the side of the abusers.” 

“I hope there is a majority that understands that we can reach agreements to move forward, especially because the CSE is something that is constantly demanded by the educational communities,” added Schneider. “This does not exist today, and that is why we need a lot of capacity for dialogue and drive to build it, but above all to go out to do a lot of pedagogy and explain to the population its importance, especially to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.” 

Oyarzún said “we believe that if we leave aside the more ideological issues and concentrate on what is really important, which are these children and adolescents, we could have a significant advance in Congress.”

Continue Reading

South America

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

Alba Rueda resigned before President Javier Milei took office

Published

on

Alba Rueda (Photo courtesy of Alba Rueda)

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

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

President Javier Milei took office in December.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

******************************************************************************************

Photo Credit: Movilh

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

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

Continue Reading

Popular