Gay Pride. The colors of the rainbow shelter manifestations in many cities of the world. The LGBTQ community is getting ready to celebrate its big party of the year, with parades, dances, music, and various events. Behind that joyous appearance, shared feast, respect for diversity, however, there is still much pain. Too many times the multicolored flag is sprinkled with the red color of blood.
The road to tolerance is still very uphill, despite the celebrations and, also, the legislations that in almost all countries of the Western world defend minorities’ rights.
The cancers of sectarianism and machismo are embedded within societies, often within the very families. Their metastases attack not only the homosexual community, but also women, indigenous people, immigrants, all minorities. Just over a year ago in Orlando an attack on a gay discotheque left some 50 persons dead and dozens injured.
In Latin America, gender violence as well as violence towards the LGBTQ community yield victims every year. Even worse, these homicides, rapes, abuses, generally go unpunished. This is what recently happened in Argentina, where a judge released three individuals who had massacred to death Marisela Pozo, a 27-year-old woman, despite a video showing, without a doubt, the aberrant homicide preceded by three hours of torture. A sentence that falls like a bucket of cold water on a country where the #niunamenos movement fights tirelessly to diminish femicide, and where were it not because of the mobilization of society, Analía de Jesús (Higui) —a lesbian woman who killed one of the three men who tried to rape her after beating and insulting her, because of her sexual diversity— would still be in jail. Higui has suffered these insults and violence since she was a teenager.
In Mexico, according to data from the civil association Letra S Sida, 202 people were killed due to their sexual orientation, from January 2014 to December 2016. The most vulnerable ones are transgender women.
In Ecuador, the practice still remains of clinics where homosexuals and lesbians are admitted for their “cure”. The photos of the Ecuadorian Paola Paredes, which testifie to one of those clinics for lesbians, are a crude, relentless denunciation of the aberrant practices they use within those walls. Violence of all kinds, from rape to beatings and lack of food, is used to break the will of the “sick” who in many cases are interned, through deceit and coercion, by their own relatives. Clinics that continue to operate under the guise of centers for the rehabilitation of drug-addicts and alcoholics, despite laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, in Ecuador.
Ecuador is not the only country where this dichotomy exists. In almost all the countries of the region there is a great contradiction between a progressive legislation on the rights of the homosexual community and an intolerant and violent social and police reality. This is underlined by the organization Transgender Europe, according to which, Latin America has some of the most advanced laws and, in parallel, the highest crime rate. A 2015 report by the IACHR indicates that almost 600 people were killed in Latin America only because they were part of the LGBTQ community. Many more were victims of rape, torture, insults and violence of various kinds. Discrimination is an evil that travels throughout the region, and there is no country where one may live serenely and without fear of sexual diversity.
According to ILGA’s (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) 12th report, in 71 countries (32 from Africa, 10 from America, 23 from Asia and 6 from Oceania), homosexuality is punished with imprisonment, life imprisonment, lashes and even the death penalty.
And in all the other countries, the emergence of movements with authoritarian tendencies that mix nationalism with machismo, intolerance towards immigrants with the one punishing women and homosexuals, endangers the rights conquered until now.
This is a really disturbing picture. Diversity is the broken mirror where societies fear being reflected to discover their own diversities, because collective violence is an antidote to individual weaknesses, because it is easier to criticize than to understand.
Respect and tolerance should be fundamental pillars of any society; but in order to live diversity as enrichment and not as a threat, it would be necessary to promote awareness campaigns, meetings and talks. Teaching in schools should be promoted and extended not only to children but also to parents.
The only way to build fair societies is to quell fear and violence, so that no one is afraid to look into a broken mirror, knowing that in each reflection they can discover the many facets of the same beautiful universe: that of the human being.
Photo Credits: Rachel Docherty
“Pensar es como vivir dos veces.” - Cicerón