Latin America: Pride marches focus on marriage, violence

Chileans celebrated LGBT Pride in Santiago on June 25 with a march from the central Plaza Italia to the La Moneda presidential palace. Organizers said 30,000 people joined the march, while the police gave a crowd estimate of 12,000. Participants carried signs with such slogans as: “Marriage and civil union law for all couples” and “Antidiscrimination law for everyone.” The march came one day after New York became the largest state in the US to allow same-sex marriage. Rightwing president Sebasti├ín Pi├▒era announced on May 28 that he would send Congress a proposal for a law to legalize civil unions for the country’s more than two million couples, including same-sex couples, but he insisted that the law wouldn’t permit same-sex marriage. Chilean LGBT activists are pushing for full marriage equality. (AFP, June 25, via Terra.com)

Marriage was less of an issue for LGBT activists in Mexico‘s Federal District, where same-sex marriage was legalized in December 2009. The emphasis for thousands of marchers in the city’s 33rd Pride event, held on June 25, was on fighting homophobic crime. Activists noted how much progress they had made over the years. “Never, not in my wildest dreams, did I imagine that there would be so many people in the street” for Pride, actor and activist Tito Vasconcelos said, but now “[w]e’re in a bloodbath. Homophobic hate crimes continue. This march is to demand from the government all that it still owes us.” (La Jornada, Mexico, June 26)

In El Salvador hundreds of activists marched through the capital’s streets on June 25 to demand respect and tolerance in a society they said was dominated by machismo and discrimination based on sexual orientation. But “political and social conditions have been changing,” William Hern├índez, coordinator of the rights group Entre Amigos (“Among Friends”), told the AFP wire service, and activists have been working on building respect and tolerance in various sectors. (AFP, June 25, via Terra.com)

Cubans held their first Pride march on June 28. Outnumbered by reporters, about 10 people carried multicolored banners from Havana’s Paseo del Prado to the Malec├│n esplanade by the Caribbean. The march was separate from activities that day at the government’s National Sexual Education Center (Cenesex), which is headed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban president Ra├║l Castro. LGBT Observatory, which organized the march, said it invited Marisela Castro to the march. “Once again they missed an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that what they cry out is true, that rights are respected here,” LGBT Observatory director Leannes Imbert said. Imbert blamed the low turnout on intimidation.

Dissident LGBT activists note improvements in the government’s policies toward LGBT people but say there is still discrimination. (EFE, June 28, via Terra.com)

On July 2 Lima mayor Susana Villar├ín led Peruvians in the capital’s 10th Pride march, from the Campo de Marte to Plaza Washington, in front of Casa Espa├▒a de la Cultura. “I accompanied the Gay Pride march as a citizen, I did it also as a candidate, and now as the main authority I’m participating in this parade through the streets of Lima,” said Villar├ín, who took office six months ago. The AFP wire service said 200 people participated, while the Lima daily La Rep├║blica referred to “thousands of activists.” (AFP, July 2, via Terra.com; LR, July 2)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 3.

See our last posts on LGBT rights and last year’s Pride mobilizations in Latin America.