Monday, January 24, 2011

Argentina: Bears attacked

On Tuesday, January 18th, three members of the Buenos Aires Bear Club in Argentina visited the offices of the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) and filed a claim detailing a number of recent homophobic attacks against the club and its members.

Club coordinator Gabriel Sánchez tells Tiempo Argentino that on the night of January 15th, as club members and their friends began to arrive to a monthly grill-and-meet event, twenty or so individuals living in a nearby hotel started harassing them and asking them for money.

When members refused to give money, Sánchez says that some of the assailants began to shout "You getting together to fuck, fat faggots!"

As the tone got more aggressive, club members went inside the clubhouse and shut the door.  Outside, assailants pulled a discarded mattress and some trash bags against the door and set them on fire, as captured in this photo which was posted on the paper's website.

Club members were able to open the door and put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. By then, Sánchez says, the police had arrived and kept guard preventing further violence.

"We are well aware of the different economic situation and the reality of living in an overcrowded hotel, but were never hostile to them," said Sánchez, "These people are enraged by sexual diversity, something that has never been a problem in the neighborhood."

Sánchez says that the problems began a month earlier when the hotel accepted a number of new residents a month before the latest incident.  Bear club members started to complain of being verbally harassed as they made their way to the clubhouse or that their vehicles were damaged after refusing to pay them a bogus parking fee.

AG Magazine says that, in their complaint to INADI, bear club members describe the assailants throwing rocks and glass bottles which left a few of their members hurt. They also say that while the police did eventually arrive, they treated the altercation as a minor problem between neighbors but refused to arrest anyone or to register a complaint.

Maria Rachid, a former president of the Argentinian LGBT Federation who was appointed as Vice President of INADI in December by Argentinean president Cristina Fernandes de Kirchner, said that the government-led agency would accompany the members of the bear club and help them to file criminal charges on the basis of any personal damages or injuries as well as attempted murder.  She also vowed to approach the local police department to address the way their officers responded to the attack.

Rachid was also instrumental in pushing and securing marriage equality rights for all gays and lesbians in Argentina.

1 comment:

libhom said...

This is really upsetting. It is an example of how heterosexism really is a global problem.

If this becomes a regular thing, it will hurt that country's tourism industy.