Friday, May 18, 2007

IDAHO 2007 in Latin America

Most of the world, except for the United States, celebrated their own private and not-so- private IDAHOs (short for International Day Against Homophobia) as Doug Ireland reports on his blog.

Information over on the IDAHO website indicates the following activities took place in Latin America and the Caribbean:

• Brazil: Among several activities that took place in different cities throughout the giant nation, Grupo Gay da Bahia organized a "Day without Homophobia." During the event they honored members of the LGBT community lost to homophobic violence by writing their names on colorful handkerchiefs and hanging them on a line with clothespins. Photos here.

• Guyana: The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) screened "Songs of Freedom" a documentary by Jamaican born director Phillip Pike that takes a look at homophobia in Jamaica. In doing so, organizers hoped to call attention on "the need of Caribbean societies to battle homophobia as one of the prejudices which retard the development of society." The country, which is located to the right of Venezuela and above Brazil at the north of the South American continent is populated by English-speakers and has stronger ties to Caribbean culture than to Spanish speaking South American countries.

• Venezuela: IDAHO reports that the Caracas-based Asociación Civil Unión Afirmativa (Affirmative Civil Union Association) was to hold a kiss-a-thon in front of the Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal to ask the court to rule on a petition submitted more than two years ago to determine if the Venezuelan constitution grants certain partnership rights to same-sex couples. I couldn't find coverage in the local press.

Newspaper articles from the last couple of days also reveal the following events in other Latin American countries:

• Mexico: The Human Rights Commission of the Federal District, the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination and more than 60 non-profit organizations asked conservative Mexican president Felipe Calderon to designate yesterday as a "National Day Against Homophobia" (I don't think the president even replied) and highlighted a report that documented the murder of 337 individuals who were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender from 1995 through 2004. The organizations estimated that the number of murdered LGBT individuals might be much higher and reach into the 1,000's as homophobic violence still remains under reported in the country (La Jornada) [NOTE: A later article in La Jornada puts the number of murders at 387].

In the meantime, in Oaxaca, Amaranta Gómez Regalado also asked a local governor to designate the date of May 17th as a national day against homophobia (ADN Sureste). Amaranta was featured in the groundbreaking film "Juchitan: Queer Paradise" when she ran for political office as a muxe, neither a transgender woman nor a gay man, but a "third gender" accepted by Mexican indigenous communities as part of their culture much as some North-American indigenous cultures accept "two-spirit" individuals.

• El Salvador: Yesterday in San Salvador legislative members of the socialist political party Farabundi Marti National Liberation Front (FMNL) announced their support for a similar measure recognizing every May 17th as a "National Day Against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender."

The measure received a cold shoulder from members of the right-wing ARENA political party while more conservative members of the legislature reacted by insisting that the legislative body should be fighting for a same-sex marriage ban instead (El Diario de Hoy).

An amendment to the Salvadorian constitution banning same-sex marriages and adoptions by same-sex couples was approved a year ago by the Salvadorian National Assembly but still needs a second debate and vote before passage [NOTE: Both the article that describes yesterday's activities in El Salvador and a separate article also in El Diario that described the scene as LGBT advocates lobbied legislators referred to the activists as "high-heeled" or as "ladies" showing no editorial constraint in their homophobia, both by the reporters as well as the editors of El Diario. Pictured above, the great William Hernandez and members of his LGBT-rights organization Entre Hermanos, who we have featured before].

• Paraguay: The LGBT-rights organization Paragay announced a campaign to promote a bill that would amend an existing anti-discrimination law in order to protect specific social groups including gays and minorities from discrimination (Jakueke).

• Chile:
In Chile, the Homosexual Integration and Mobilization Movement (MOVILH) promoted conjugal visits for imprisoned gay, lesbian and transgender inmates (OpusGay).

• Argentina: The CHA launched an initiative to promote national and regional measures to ban discrimination, criminalization and persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (Territorio Digital).

• Dominican Republic: Finally, in Santo Domingo, IDAHO was celebrated through an event recognizing the work of "seventeen individuals and eight institutions that have maintained a non-discriminatory attitude" towards gays and lesbians.

Among the honorees were El Nacional (who carried the story), the Presidential Council on AIDS and Elvira Lora, director of the cultural pages of another daily newspaper, Clave Digital.

Leonardo Sanchez, director of the gay-rights organization Amigos Siempre Amigos, announced the launch of a public campaign titled "Accept me as I am" (
El Nacional).