Monday, July 02, 2007

Gay Pride in Latin America: Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, El Salvador, Chile & Colombia

July 1, 2007: In Bogota, Colombia, the gay community mourned the death of 11 deputies that had been held in captivity by the FARC guerrilla for more than five years. The black banners and shirts also were meant to show the community's anger at the Senators that used a legislative procedure to derail a same-sex partnership bill at the last possible minute back in June (image from El Tiempo)

You might have seen coverage of pride marches in Spain and Brazil elsewhere so we'll skip those (just Google both and see what comes up or, better yet, browse for related stories).

We have already written about last week's rally in the Dominican Republic. Here is a look at other pride marches and events in Latin America that took place over the weekend that might have received less attention in these latitudes.

Cochabamba, Bolivia: Santa Cruz and the capital city of La Paz might have observed gay pride events in previous years but this year it was the Andean city of Cochabamba to launch their first pride event ever (abuove-right press conference image taken from Los Tiempos).

On Sunday, Los Tiempos reported that the previous day's gathering at the city's main plaza was attended by thousands of individuals who "danced with transsexuals, gays and lesbians."

"I didn't know Miss Cochabamba was so tall!" said an older woman as she posed for a photo with the Queen of the Gays, stated the reporter.

The paper took note of the visible trans presence and the lack of confrontations or disruptions that have marred pride events in other Bolivian cities.

Guayaquil, Ecuador. El Comercio reports that 300 people showed up for an afternoon of artistic shows at an outdoor plaza on Thursday, June 28th. The event, which began last year, was organized by the Friends for Life Foundation under the theme of "The problem is not homosexuality... The problem is homophobia." The Foundation has posted images of the event over on their blog here and here.

Panama City, Panama.
The Association of New Men and Women of Panama (AHMN), observed pride by releasing their first ever "Top Ten Most Homophobic Panamanians" list which included television personalities, religious leaders and politicians.

At least one of the nominees expressed surprise at being nominated: Critica Libre columnist Julio Cesar Caicedo told the AFP "I am not a homophobe."

San Salvador, El Salvador. EFE reports that hundreds of people, including representatives from half a dozen HIV prevention and gay rights organizations participated in a gay pride march through the streets of San Salvador. Under the theme of "Diversity in Action" well-known gay-right activist William Hernandez stated that there was a lack of funding and institutionalized support for anti-homophobia trainings or campaigns or for HIV prevention campaigns specifically targeting the gay community.

Santiago de Chile, Chile. Last week the Chilean arm of Amnesty International said that two leading gay rights organizations, MUMS and MOVILH, had received anonymous threatening messages through the internet in advance of Sunday's pride fair. In June MOVILH's website had also been hacked twice also by unknown put self-proclaimed skinheads who posted offensive messages and images instead of the usual content.

Fortunately MOVILH's portal is back in MOVILH's hands and they report no incidents of violence at Sunday's cultural fair which celebrated both LGBT pride as well as the organization's 16th anniversary. They also have a photo gallery of the day's proceedings here (if people seem a bit bundled, keep in mind that it's currently winter down in Chile).

La Nacion had perviously reported that, parallel to the day's events there would also be a second annual "kiss-a-thon" organized by MUMS in a show of support for anti-discrimination legislation.

Bogota, Colombia. Organizers of Bogota's pride march also denounced internet-based threats from anonymous self-described "skinheads" on the eve of Sunday's event. Fortunately, the march drew an estimated 10,000 participants despite cold rainy weather and there were no reports of any disruptions or clashes although a group of pro-gay skinheads did participate.

Organizers of the event, led by the Colombian LGBT rights advocacy organization Colombia Diversa, had planned to wear black shirts in protest of last month's 12th hour defeat of a landmark bill that would have given same-sex couples in Colombia some partnership rights. But on Sunday the black banners and shirts also served as a powerful symbol that the LGBT community in Colombia stood together with the rest of the country in mourning the death of 11 councilmembers who had been held in captivity for five years by the FARC guerilla organization (the FARC say that the kidnapped men died in a confrontation with armed forces while the Colombian government has categorically denied any rescue mission or military activity against the FARC in the area).

In addition to those visible expressions of sadness, Fabian David, a young man who marched along with his boyfriend, noticed another key difference from marches in years past: "The majority of are not wearing masks," he told El Tiempo, "This is because there is a sense of increased comfortability with the issue."

El Tiempo has a gallery of images here.

1 comment:

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

These celebrations actually make me feel proud to be gay and want to join in solidarity since these events required courage.