Monday, February 15, 2010

On Valentine's Day, gays in Latin America demand marriage equality and an end to homophobic violence

As commercialized as Valentine's Day has become over the years, it also has become a prime opportunity for the LGBT community to make our lack of partnership rights visible whether it's in the United States or any other country that 'observes' the unofficial ode to lovers.

Take France, for example. One of our favorite French blogs posted an amazing video of a massive kiss-in that took place in Paris ("Yagg: Kiss-in against homophobia"). The awesome scene has been a sensation and been picked up by a lot of the big blogs out there including The Huffington Post, Towleroad, Joe.My.God, Queerty, Mike Tidmus, etc.

Definitely less massive but just as important were several demonstrations that took place yesterday throughout Latin America.

Peru: Meet Jonathan and Oscar (right), college students and members of the LGBTI Student Bloc of Lima. In what Blog de Lima calls the 2nd annual "Kisses against homophobia" street action, they joined other several gay and lesbian couples and tried to take over the main public space inside a popular Lima shopping mall.

The couples held hands and kissed as they made their way through the mall but ran into heavy security as they tried to congregate inside the mall's main gathering spot. Several couples embraced each other and kissed for the cameras once they left the building (thanks to leading Peruvian LGBT rights advocate Jorge Alberto Chávez Reyes for providing images and video).

Meanwhile, across town, members of the Peruvian TTLGB Network congregated at the "Love Park" in Lima's Miraflores district for a symbolic marriage ceremony between same-sex couples. The Network, which had participated in previous kiss-in actions, said that they wanted to highlight the lack of same-sex partnership rights in the country.

"Just as the laws have to change in Mexico and Argentina, making civil rights be available for everyone, that's what our community demands", said well-known lesbian attorney Susel Paredes, who participated in the ceremony and symbolically married her partner, as quoted by the EFE news service.

There are conflicting reports of how many couples participated in the symbolic marriage. EFE says there were five but Peruvian media says that there were four as well as a heterosexual couple who was there in support for same-sex partnership recognition but did not participate in the ceremony.

Argentina: I haven't seen any coverage yet, but on the eve of Valentine's Day, the leading network of organizations advocating for marriage equality in Argentina called for members of the LGBT community and allies to participate in the 2nd annual "Picnics for the Same Love". The Argentinian LGBT Federation, in collaboration with [off-line at this moment] were the leading organizers (source: AG Magazine).

Two Argentinean men became the first same-sex couple to marry in all of Latin America back in December after a court declared that it was discriminatory to deny them the right to marry but other gay couples wishing to marry are awaiting an expected Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of allowing gay couples to do so.

I do know that, as part of the Valentine's Day events, Argentinean advocates launched their YouTube video version of Lily Allen's "Fuck You":

Chile: Chile is further back on the path of recognizing marriage equality but that didn't keep members from the United Movement of Sexual Minorities (MUMS) to take to the capital's Army Plaza and demand the right to marry.

"Chile is a country in which not everyone is equal," said MUMS director Fernando Muñoz, "it's a country where the laws keep you out and put you on the margin specifically in the sense that there is no recognition of same-sex partners or of common-law partners in the law that recognizes partnerships, nor of those who might want to conform one."

Muñoz also said that if the current law specifically establishes that marriage is only allowed for procreation and implied that it was hypocritical to keep gays from marriage but allow straight couples who cannot procreate to marry even if the law said they don't qualify (source: Radio Cooperativa).

Mexico: As in Argentina, marriage equality is a red-hot topic in Mexico ever since the Mexico City legislature passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry in Mexico's capital city (the law goes into effect in March). The measure, which also explicitly would allow same-sex couples to adopt, has run into vehement opposition from right wing politicians and religious leaders - and will also be heading to the country's Supreme Court for review later in the year.

Yesterday's La Jornada reported that different LGBT rights organizations from Jalisco, Colima and Guanajuato marched down the streets of Guadalajara to demand equal partnership rights. The group, mostly made up of lesbian and gay members from different regional university student groups, carried signs and expressed a desire for having similar rights granted to gays and lesbians in Mexico City. The group gathered outside the University of Guadalajara and made their way to the city's main plaza where they staged a kiss-in as the shadow of the city's Metropolitan Cathedral fell on them.

Milenio describes the scene outside the Cathedral and gives a better sense of how massive the march was. They estimate the crowd at 350 and say that, in addition to the kiss-in, eleven gay and lesbian couples also participated in a symbolic wedding ceremony. They also report homophobic insults and obscenities being hurled at marchers even as organizers expressed relief that there were no outbursts of violence.

"We received many threats form many people who said they were not going to allow us to march, including many who said they would be waiting here at the Cathedral to prevent us carrying on with the event, but at the end, none of that came to be," said Karina Velasco Michel.

These weren't the only LGBT-rights demonstrations that took place yesterday in Mexico, nor in other cities throughout Latin America, but I wanted to give you a flavor of what went on.

1 comment:

Wonder Man said...

Thanks for this info