Mexico: homophobia, femicide under scrutiny

About a third of the Mexicans surveyed in the federal government’s National Poll on Discrimination in Mexico (Enadis) for 2010 said that what gives them the greatest anxiety is the fear of violent robbery. Another quarter told Enadis, a survey carried out each year since 2005, that they were most afraid of violence by drug traffickers, while for one out of five of those polled, the main worry is “being victims of abuse by the forces of public security.”

A report on the Enadis findings, released by the government’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred) in Mexico City on April 12, showed a widespread perception of violence and discrimination in Mexican society, especially against women. People reported feeling that many women are beaten and that women are frequently denied employed. Children are often hit to ensure obedience, according to many of the people polled. One half of lesbians, homosexuals and bisexuals felt that discrimination was their main problem. The police are the most intolerant sector of society, according to 42.8% of the lesbians, homosexuals and bisexuals surveyed, while 35.3% considered that people “from their church or congregation” were the most intolerant.

The continuing discrimination comes despite advances for lesbian and gay rights in a few places, including Mexico City. In March both chambers of Congress passed a constitutional reform that would include sexual preferences among constitutionally protected human rights; the reform still requires ratification by a majority of the states. (La Jornada, Mexico, April 13; Adital, Brazil, April 15)

On April 12 a number of organizations, including the Special Femicide Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, launched a campaign calling for femicide (misogynist murders) to be categorized as a special crime, not simply as murder or a hate crime. More than 1,400 murders of women were recorded in 15 of Mexico’s 32 states during 2010; in 70% of these cases the motives are unknown and the perpetrators haven’t been found, according to María de la Luz Estrada, coordinator of the National Citizens’ Observatory of Femicide (OCNF). (Adital, April 13)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 17.

See our last post on Mexico.