“Healing therapies”, homophobia, hate crimes and socially accepted mockery. Although this Sunday marks 30 years since the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses and significant progress has been made in this time, in America the LGBT community struggles daily against prejudice and attacks.
For this reason, on the occasion of this anniversary and the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (carried out since 2005 and which this year has the motto of “Breaking the silence”), in much of the continent there are activities to claim the Rights of this group, within the restrictions experienced by the coronavirus: from a live broadcast with celebrities in Mexico to the event Today we cannot take to the streets, but we take the networks! in Guatemala.
PIONEERS IN LATIN AMERICA
Argentina was the first country in Latin America to recognize the right to same-sex marriage in 2010, so the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community finds “a lot to celebrate” 30 years after the WHO declaration, according to María Rachid told Efe, who together with her partner were the first of the same sex to achieve civil union, in 2003.
“We have reached a legal equality that allows us to have the necessary tools to continue working for what is most important, which is real equality, that of every day,” although there are still Escoyos such as “violence and discrimination,” added Rachid, head of the Institute against Discrimination of the Ombudsman.
Another leading country in the region is Mexico, which in 2003 passed the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination, which contemplates protecting sexual preferences, and more than half of its 32 states have laws in favor of equal marriage, among them the capital, while a 2016 Supreme Court resolution declared state laws prohibiting it unconstitutional.
An institutional protection very different from the reality on the streets. According to data released last Thursday by the NGO Letra Ese, in 2019 there were 117 murders of the LGBT collective, the highest number in the last five years, when in total there were 441 homicides.
“CURE” HOMOSEXUALITY, A CURRENT PROBLEM
One of the issues that remain problematic is that of the “cure” for homosexuality. In the US, 20 states have banned “therapeutic conversion” for minors and some members of Congress have tried to make the ban federal, but it has so far been unsuccessful.
These laws also do not affect religious organizations and groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association consider that treating being gay or transgender as a mental illness increases the risk of suicide, drug abuse and depression.
In Peru, the perception of homosexuality has had “at the state and public policy level, as well as with legal attempts to protect the LGBT community, significant advances,” Gabriela Zavaleta, president of the More Equality organization, told Efe. warns that there is still “a lot of homophobia, transphobia and discrimination that is born of prejudice”
“It is almost natural that these attempts to modify sexual identity arise, which apply from psychological therapies to institutionalization internments, going through subjects that are directly torture,” said Zavaleta, who blamed the “conservative position that the country has” that “There is no right for same-sex couples, or the change of gender identity in the registry.”
CONTINUE THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL MARRIAGE
In the world, 37 countries are still unaware of gay marriage, including Venezuela, where “there is still a lot of work to be done” and it is necessary to generate “legal actions” for this “differentiated” population, which has also not achieved rights such as adoption for single-parent families nor the change of identity for trans people, according to Affirmative Union.
Quiteria Franco, director of that NGO, told Efe that one of the most notable achievements was the declaration by Parliament in 2016 of the National Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, an advance that could not be made official due to the contempt status in which it finds the Legislative, according to the Supreme.
In addition, Franco explains, in Venezuela an evolution of humor is necessary for LGBT people to stop being “a source of mockery”. “It is not healthy, it is not fun to make jokes about homosexuals (…) we want our integrity as human beings to be respected,” he added.
PROTECTION BEYOND IDENTITY
In Bolivia, it has not yet been understood that “homosexuality is not a disease” and that homophobia is, as rejection, hatred and discrimination persist, the president of the TGLB Bolivia Collective, Rodolfo Vargas, told Efe.
Added to this are intra-family violence, abandonment, poverty or non-compliance with regulations that protect this community, which although they have always been present, were more evident in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, he indicated.
In Colombia, “30 years later we were able to verify that although the declaration was a necessary exercise, it was not enough because, despite the fact that this pronouncement was the motivator for the member states to start building public policies to protect LGBT people, it follows us worrying about how violence is maintained, “with attacks and even murders, the director of the Caribbean Affirmative corporation, Wilson Castañeda, told Efe.
For Castañeda, we must “take advantage of the implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC, which includes this community as a victim of the conflict, to guarantee the right to life of the collective.” We have made progress in regulations but we have regressed a lot in protection of LGBT people “, warned Castañeda.?
TRANSEXUAL, MORE STIGMATIZED
In Ecuador, although homosexual marriage was approved last year and progress has been made in other aspects, there is still discrimination, especially towards trans people. “We continue to be considered as people with some type of pathology,” Diane Rodríguez, president of the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBT Organizations, told Efe.
Gays and lesbians “little by little have had access to social spaces, such as work places” and since 2016 the gender identity law has been applied, but? “Violence, stigma and discrimination are much more concentrated in our trans populations” , with 16 killed in 2019, 12 by trans women and 4 by gay men, according to Rodríguez.
For this reason, he indicated that this Sunday is a “‘remembrance’ of what has been achieved, but still a ‘requirement’ in relation to gender identity.”