Since Mexico’s President Came Out for Gay Marriage, Homophobia and Hate Crimes Have Surged
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In May 2017, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed a constitutional amendment to legalize same-sex marriage. This sounds wonderful, but the leader of a group that tracks Mexico hate crimes says that Nieto’s announcement has spurred a conservative “defamation campaign” against gay people followed by a spike in anti-gay hate crimes. Yikes.
This is according to Alejandro Brito, head of the Citizen Commission Against Homophobic Hate Crimes. In a press conference Brito said, “Homophobia has worsened this year due to opposition to the initiative that the president has sent to Congress.”
His organization claims that 26 LGBTQ people were killed after President Nieto’s announcement, including a particularly brutal vehicular and gun attack on two lesbians that left one of them dead.
Brito’s statistics are based on news reports, so the actual figure of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes is likely much higher. “For each case reported in the press, there are at least two others that are not reported,” he says.
President Nieto proposed legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide after a 2016 ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court declaring state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Mexico’s Roman Catholic Church and conservative party members have both vocally opposed Nieto’s proposal.
Previously the non-governmental organization Letra S reported over 202 LGBTQ murders between 2014 and 2016. In only one-third of those cases were any suspects identified.
It’s a presidential election year in Mexico, and local LGBTQ activists are trying to ensure that candidates address and prioritize the issues affecting their community. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is the party in power, and its candidate, Mikel Arriola, recently came out against gay adoptions, abortion and marijuana. This despite the PRI being seen as a more liberal or liberal-centrist party.
But stances like this are a step backwards for the PRI, and they may indicate the party beginning to embrace conservatism. Still, 192 Mexican LGBTQ activists activists met at Mexico City’s Human Rights Commission in January to hold the first-ever meeting of the LGBTTTI+ Mexican Coalition to address community issues.
“The coalition is born of the concern that sexual diversity is not welcomed by any of the presidential candidates. It’s a genuine attempt among activists to be in solidarity and show that if we work together, we can be heard in the next elections,” says Alex Orué, Executive Director of It Gets Better Mexico and spokesperson for the LGBTQ Mexican Coalition.
While the coalition is primarily focused on building an LGBTQ activist network to influence the 2018 electoral process in Mexico, Mexican LGBTQ activist Genaro Lozano says time and effort will have to be devoted to reduction of homophobia and hate crimes looking forward, especially since homophobia and corruption affect many cities’ police departments.