Gay Mexico City: One City, Two Governments Bitterly Opposed on Gay Rights

Gay Mexico City: One City, Two Governments Bitterly Opposed on Gay Rights

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Pride Season is around the corner, and like most major cities, Mexico City will celebrate Pride with beautiful guys and vibrant colors. It’s a city is known for its lively queer culture. Foreign travelers even come to Mexico City to get married. But despite what you might expect, that glitter and gay rights don’t extend very far — not even to all of Mexico City.

Thanks to an odd law from the last century, Mexico City is divided into two independent areas. They have different governments and laws but share utilities. One city, two governments. It might seem a little surreal, but as Salvador Dalí once said, Mexico “is more surrealist than my paintings.”

The government in the central boroughs — what most people call “the Federal District” — is controlled by a progressive party. During the last 10 years, this government has made huge strides in gay rights. In the Federal District, same-sex marriage is totally legal; men can hold hands and kiss in the street without fear. Gay businesses and publications have blossomed. The Federal District is a gay paradise in Latin America. The gays have taken over!

It takes a few minutes by subway to get to the outer boroughs of gay Mexico City — which people refer to as “the State.” Unfortunately, the State’s government isn’t nearly as progressive. Gay people are still attacked in the streets; sometimes a public display of affection can even see them detained by police.

The State’s government avoids LGBT topics. As far as they’re concerned, we don’t exist. And yet this sits right next to a gay paradise. You don’t need to leave the country to lose your rights — sometimes you just need to cross the street.

Most gay people are used to it. We learn how to behave and what to expect in each area. We have built in switches for our gayness that we can turn on or off depending on where in Mexico City we find ourselves. This surreal situation within one city is “normal.”

But there’s a new wave of LGBT activism fighting for acceptance throughout the country — including all of gay Mexico City. These activists are pushing for equality enshrined in the law, ensuring we no longer have to take the subway to get our human rights.

On June 4, only three weeks before Pride, the State is holding an election. Unfortunately, Alfredo del Mazo, the strongest candidate, belongs to the ruling party of the last 90 years. Del Mazo has said in interviews that he is against same-sex marriage and will “defend the values of traditional family.” He believes God can resolve the territory’s problems, which caused well-known gay Mexico City activist Antonio Bertran to comment, “Does he want to be governor or bishop?”

Juan Zepeda is the candidate from the left-wing party, and he’s shown open support to the LGBT community. It’s a shame that he’s unlikely to win.

Nevertheless, here’s hoping the possibility for gay equality throughout Mexico City is still on the table.

Featured image by SHSPhotography via iStockPhoto.

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