Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Update: Staunch opponent to Colombian President Uribe offers tentative support on gay rights... and a warning

One of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's staunchest critics from the left has expressed tentative support for his surprise proposal to provide certain rights to same-sex couples while also highlighting one of the biggest mysteries surrounding Uribe's sudden openness to embracing gay rights.

In a statement released yesterday, Senator Piedad Cordoba, sponsor of a civil union bill that died on the Colombian Senate floor in 2003, said (translation by yours truly):
For more than ten years, I have been working for and developing - from a Human Rights framework - [ways to recognize the] social, civil and patrimonial rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, for which I have received nothing but criticism and aggression in Congress, the streets and in church.

In departments such as Choco, in the newspaper Chocofilo, which is directed by a priest, in its March edition published an article titled "CATHOLICS SHOULD NOT VOTE FOR PIEDAD," in which - in addition to a grotesque caricature of myself - it said that "bishops present at the Episcopalian conference [sent out an] invite not to vote for Piedad Cordoba, being partisan to the aberration of recognizing the civil rights of homosexual couples." This being a mere example of all the attacks to which I was exposed for defending this community.

Recognizing that President Alvaro Uribe commented on the topic: "Marriage, NO; adoption, NO; proprietary / inheritance rights [derecho patrimonial], YES; social security, YES," I send much strength so he can endure the road of thorns that awaits him, having agreed on a positive posture in regards to the recognition of civil rights for gays.

It's good for the country to know that Uribe's proposal is in no way different than the three previous [civil union] bills that - despite the support of the LGBT community, academia, some progressive congressmembers and three [Colombian] ex-presidents from my [Liberal] Party - were systematically drowned by the legislature.

My mother, who always came home worried after Sunday mass, when they would openly ask not to vote for me, will now let me know if the priests will ask not to cast a vote for Uribe, or will sponsor marches against his government for being in favor of gays. I imagine that in the Episcopal conference they will give an absolute order to block Catholics from voting for anyone who, according to them, "supports those types of 'aberrations.'" Perhaps some will comment that he must be gay or that his children are not his [real] children.

This is so the President starts realizing that in Colombia, to be a human rights defender, is not an easy thing, that it means to be seen as a sinner or a criminal. Those who defend equality, respect for diversity and liberty, can clearly tell him as a warning, that the one thing in which we have managed to coincide, will lead him to be treated as a pariah.

I will continue fighting - with or without Uribe - not for marriage, but for equality in the rights of gay citizens. I take it under consideration because - being promoters of the same proposal - he surely will inherit my opponents... unless all this is an electoral ploy.
This is also the one thing that jumps at me since the President made his comments: The deafening silence coming from Colombia's church leaders, which lead me to think that the Uribe government has spoken to them on the issue and said... just what happened, what was said, what was promised? Who knows?

In the meantime, Colombia Diversa has gotten their hands on the specific bill language being introduced in the Colombian senate at Uribe's request. The bill, authored by Senator Alvaro Araujo Castro in October of 2005, simply says:
Article 1: Couples constituted by persons of the same sex will be able to have access to social security and will be able to form patrimonial unions, with the same requirements and conditions established by the current regulations for permanent partners [Spanish: Articulo 1: Las parejas conformadas por personas del mismo sexo podrán acceder a la seguridad social y podrán conformar sociedades patrimoniales, con los mismos requisitos y condiciones previstos en las disposiciones vigentes para los compañeros permanentes]
Some LGBT community activists in Colombia are saying privately that the bill, little known until now, was probably a vote-grabbing move by an opportunist senator which has been unwittingly thrown into the spotlight thanks to President Uribe's comments.

I am sure we will hear much more about these developments sooner than later.

Previous posts on this issue:

No comments: