Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mexican president Felipe Calderón in hot water over comment perceived as homophobic

While current Mexican president Felipe Calderón might have his hands full with the failing state he'll undeniably leave behind, he also leaves a homophobic legacy as the man who ordered his general attorney to challenge Mexico City's marriage equality law before the Mexican Constitutional Court --- and failed to get the Court to overturn the historic law.

Yesterday, at a government sponsored breast cancer awareness event, Calderón inadvertently stoked up his homophobic legacy by making a throw away comment that was quickly picked up online and turned into a widely shared Twitter hashtag.

At the event, President Calderón wore a pink ribbon.

Halfway through his speech, he made note of the ribbon and made sure the audience knew that the color pink symbolized breast cancer awareness and nothing else.

"No vaya a pensar otra cosa", he said with a sheepish smile (or "Don't go thinking it means something else" in English).

Picking up on those exact words, people on Twitter started using the #NoVayaApensarOtraCosa hashtag to make fun of Calderón's snide dismissal of all things pink and it quickly found traction and started spreading online.

By tonight it became clear that the Calderón camp knew it had a problem on their hands and that the "pink ribbon" issue threatened to overwhelm political discourse in the next few days.

President Calderón himself took to Twitter to apologize. Using the #NoVayaApensarOtraCosa hashtag himself, Calderón wrote "I reiterate my profound respect towards sexual diversity and my rejection against all discrimination".

In short, Calderón himself was acknowledging that the comment he made a day earlier had homophobic connotations.

As a Mexican friend wrote to me, the faux-pas wasn't necessarily something to lose sleep over, considering the hardships facing the Mexican government.  But the easy way in which the Mexican president seemed to engage in homophobic sentiment was not something that should have been easily dismissed either.

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