Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mexican sexual diversity advocates "welcome" Pope Benedict XVI

Photo via Ricardo Brauch.

A number of Mexican LGBT and sexual health advocates gathered yesterday at Mexico City's Glorieta de La Independencia yesterday to extend a less than warm welcome to Pope Benedict XVI.

Chanting "You are a foe to many human rights" and "You protect pedophiles and then act saintly", activists asked the Pope to leave.

Ricardo Baruch, Director of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said that the protest was not meant to be an attack on those who believe in God. Instead, he said it was a direct condemnation of Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic leadership and their attempt to impose the retrograde policies of the Vatican on the nation of Mexico.

Baruch also questioned the use of federal tax funds in support of the three-day visit, the Pope's refusal to meet with victims of pedophilia in the hands of the Mexican Legionaries of Christ and his opposition to reproductive rights for women.

Other organizations that participated in the protest included Grupo Interdisciplinario Feminista, Colectivo Pan y Rosas, Movimiento de Caderas, Pacto por la Vida, la Red de Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, Grupo Interdisciplinario Feminista y La Chichi Indignada.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chile found guilty of violating the rights of a lesbian judge and her daughters

Photo: Chilean judge Karen Atala was a panelist at the Global Arc of Justice conference hosted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School campus in March of 2009 (Courtesy: Blabbeando).

In a long awaited ruling, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States has determined that Chile violated the rights of judge Karen Atala and her children when the nation's Supreme Court ruled she was unfit to be a parent based on her sexual orientation.

It is a monumental ruling and xQsi Magazine has the full details.  I have asked them for permission to cross-post it on Blabbeando and they have graciously said yes.  Here is their full post:
Lesbian Mother Wins Human Rights Case against Chile 

In a precedent setting decision, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday in favor of Chilean lesbian judge Karen Atala Riffo, saying that the Supreme Court of Chile’s 2004 ruling that separated the mother from her three daughters was in violation of her right to equality and non-discrimination as stipulated in the American Convention on Human Rights.

It is the first time the Court has ruled on a case of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Additionally, the court affirmed that in regards to the right to equality and non-discrimination, “sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories in the American Convention under the phrase ‘other social condition’ established in article 1.1 of the Convention.” and that no legal decisions — whether made by governmental authorities or not — can “diminish or restrict, in no way, a person’s rights because of their sexual orientation.”

The Court also found the Chilean State, through its Supreme Court ruling, “internationally responsible” of violating other principles found in the Convention, including the right to privacy, the protection of family, and the right of children to be heard.

In 2002, Karen separated from her then husband, Jaime López Allende. A custody battle ensued over their three daughters. In 2004, after two appellate courts ruling in Karen’s favor, the Supreme Court of Chile intervened and overturned the lower courts’ rulings, giving custody of their three children to her ex-husband, arguing that Karen had placed her interests above those of her daughters when she decided to live with another woman. In its ruling, the Court argued that allowing the children to stay with their mother would leave them in in a “situation of risk” and turn them into “objects of social discrimination.”

In its decision, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Republic of Chile to provide psychological or medical attention, free of charge, should the victims request it and to pay $60 thousand for damages and reimbursement of costs and expenses.

Furthermore, Chile must internationally recognize its responsibility for the acts in the case, publish the Court’s decision in print, on the web, and in official State communications, and continue to implement programs and trainings for regional and national public officials, especially officers of all ranks in Chile’s judiciary branch.

In response to the ruling, the Movement of Gay Integration and Liberation (MOVILH) celebrated.

“Here justice has been served against a brutal case of discrimination that Atala and her daughters faced, and thanks to [Atala's] persistent struggle, the rights of everyone can obtain better guarantees for respect in Chile,” said the organization via press release.
According to MOVILH, Chile's Ministry of Justice has said that the government will "promptly implement" the measures outlined in the court's ruling.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It Gets Better in Latin America?

When sex advice columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller launched the "It Gets Better" project in 2010 I doubt they would have envisioned the tremendous impact the project would have.

Their goal was to reach bullied gay teens through YouTube and let them know others had gone through the same experiences and been able to survive.

The message, which has been criticized as simplistic by some, reverberated across the web and resulted in video contributions from hundreds of thousands of people including U.S. President Barack Obama.

As the initiative grew larger, Savage and Miller handed the reigns of the project to others leading to the launch of an official and trademarked website for the It Gets Better Project.

Trademark be damned, you might expect a project others throughout the world to emulate a project like this one and so they have.

Wikipedia currently lists similar copy-cat initiatives in Australia and Canada while the It Gets Better Project website lists official affiliates in Australia, Denmark and Sweden.

When it comes to Latin America, I am personally aware of Peru's Proyecto Todo Mejora which has engaged some of the leading Peruvian political and showbiz leaders on the subject of LGBT bullying including former Vice Presidential nominee Carlos Bruce and current Lima mayor Susana Villarán.

The Peruvian site mentions It Gets Better as an inspiration but there is no sign of collaboration or permission to use the trademark. It does have links to a local donation page and a merchandise shop.

So I was surprised today to see a new Todo Mejora initiative from Chile emerging as the official It Gets Better affiliate in Latin America (

In a Spanish-language statement posted on the new Chilean site, U.S. project manager Seth Levy says he is grateful for Chile taking the lead on the project even as he admits knowing little about LGBT issues in Latin America.

A translation of his statement:
We are grateful to the Chilean team who has made TODO MEJORA a reality. We recognize the importance of working on the local scale in order to carry the message of our project. Reaching Chile and Latin America was a challenge because we are not experts on regional cultures, idioms, politics or other important items needed to coordinate a successful regional campaign.  We are confident that TODO MEJORA will change the life of LGBT youth in Chile and throughout Latin America.
The Project enjoys the sponsorship of the Chilean Fundación =Iguales (Equality Foundation) and is being launched in multiple platforms including a website, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Personally I am among those who believe that the It Gets Better Project's positive impact trumps most of the criticism lobbed its way. I am also hopeful that the new Chilean initiative will engage bullied Spanish-speaking LGBT youth who might otherwise not receive encouraging messages about how they feel and who they are.

I do wish that the Chilean initiative wouldn't be categorized as the Latin American response to It Gets Better since Chilean culture is indeed regional. After all, the official It Gets Better site doesn't bunch up Denmark and Sweden as representing all of Europe and, similarly, Latin America is much more diverse than this effort is trying to represent.

On the eve of its launch, though, the project has been received enthusiastically (check the Twitter hashtag for #TodoMejora) and we do wish it much success.