Tag Archives: Latin America

Colombia Becomes 4th Latin American Country To Legalises Same Sex Marriage

Colombia’s top court has finally legalised same-sex marriage across the country.

Same-sex couples were already allowed to form civil partnerships, but a ruling this week extends them the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.


Earlier this month the constitutional court dismissed a judge’s petition against equal marriage rights for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

This make Colombia the fourth in Latin America to do so. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have previously legalised same-sex marriage.

Argentina was the first Latin American country to take the step in July 2010.

In Mexico, gay marriage is legal in the capital and in certain states.

Mexico Could Have Nationwide Marriage Equality Soon

In the United Kingdom, it would seem unusual if parliament voted to provide human rights to people in one county but not another. But in countries like Mexico, each of these country’s states have their laws and rulings each determined by local politics and only the Supreme Court is able to make blanket laws that affect the entire country. It’s this hierarchy that is making Mexico’s fight for marriage equality that much more difficult.

It’s also made more difficult by the way the nullification of state law works. For example, in order to nullify a state law about marriage equality, several separate lawsuits have to be filed by several couples against the state. On top of this, unlike in the United States where a successful lawsuit in one state allowed everybody in that area to marry, lawsuit rulings in Mexico only apply to the individuals that filed them meaning that those who also want to marry have to file their own lawsuit and wait for that to successful.


But despite these hurdles, those fighting for marriage equality in Mexico are pushing on. As of 2015, courts in more than two thirds of Mexico’s 31 states have ruled in favour of the same-sex couples, thus granting them the right to marry. In fact, in the states of Coahulla and Quintana Roo and Mexico City (which isn’t a state but it is a district, like Washington D.C) marriage is available for everybody.

What’s also good news is that lawyers like Alex Alí Méndez Díaz (who took up the legal fight when other LGBT protesters didn’t feel as though lawsuits would be successful) have been filing ‘amparos’ and ‘amparo colectivos’.

An amparo is a lawsuit that pertains to human rights, while an amparo colectivos is a human rights lawsuit that involves large groups of people. Méndez has been filing these lawsuits so that couples will win the right to marry and individuals will win that right for the future too, even if they do not currently have a partner. In April, 2014 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of his 39-person strong amparo colectivo while other lawsuits (some involving hundreds of people) have also been successful in other parts of the country.


The change is massively positive and speaking to Buzzfeed, Méndez says that he is astonished at the pace of it. And, their push for marriage equality has seen little to no resistance from LGBT rights opponents and religious leaders (Mexico is mostly Catholic) in the country as unlike the United States, where marriage equality is hugely publicised, that isn’t the case in Mexico and the people aren’t used to using the courts to bring about change like this.

However, this stability may not be forever as Méndez says that “The moment that there is an order from the Supreme Court forcing reform we’ll begin to see all kinds of resistance. We’re going to have serious problems with protests in opposition.”

In January, there was opposition from local officials in the state of Baja California who refused to let same-sex couple marry. One volunteer from the city hall even said that the two men were mad, which caused LGBT activists to organise a protest using the hashtag #MisDerechosNoSonLocura (#MyRightsAreNotMadness). In the end, the couple was allowed to marry.

Despite this opposition, which is sure to grow in the coming weeks and months, Méndez tells Buzzfeed that he still thinks the nationwide marriage equality will become a reality soon regardless.

We’ll keep you posted once we know more.


The World’s First Latina Supermodel Patricia Velasquez Comes Out in New Memoir – Straight Walk

In her new memoir Straight Walk, Patricia Velasquez,who starred as Marina’s big screen alter ego Karina on The L Word, recounts her impoverished childhood, her time in the intensely challenging South American beauty-pageant system, and admits what she had denied or played coy about in the past was the fact she’s a lesbian.

Seem as the world’s first Latina supermodel, Velasquez was discovered as a teen and went on to compete in the 1989 Miss Venezuela pageant. But compete for Miss Venezuela was not an easy task, she was told she had her eyes done, her ears pinned back and got breast implants. She agreed only to the latter. She also starved herself on a strict diet of chicken and tomato juice and was required to find a sponsor. In other words, Velasquez writes, “I would have to start prostituting myself.”

She hooked up with an older man she identifies only as David. In exchange for sex, he got Velasquez an apartment and paid for her cosmetic surgery. She placed second in the Miss Venezuela pageant, and her modeling career took off.

She modeled for Victoria’s Secret, Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue and made it on the big screen in The Mummy franchise.


However, her life changed when she met comedienne Sandra Bernhard backstage at a fashion show.

Velasquez says didn’t know who Bernhard was — even though the comic was rumored to be with Madonna back then — but says she felt an instant connection.

Bernhard invited Velasquez to her hotel, and the two hooked up. “I’d never kissed a girl”, Velasquez writes, and she agonized over what this meant.

Soon after meeting and falling for Bernhard, she slept with a male fashion photographer.

“In my head I thought, ‘I just wanted to prove one thing, and I did’. There was no middle ground for me — a person was gay or not gay. Being gay was not for me.”

Patricia Velasquez

Yet she quickly began dating Bernhard exclusively, without declaring herself gay or bisexual.

“I was deeply in love with Sandra in a way I’d never experienced before.”

Patricia Velasquez

The model doesn’t get into the details of her relationship with Bernhard — or their clique, which included Madonna, party girl Ingrid Casares and nightclub owner Chris Paciello, who was famously convicted of murder in 2000. Of the relationship’s end, she writes only, “I cried for two years over Sandra.”

Velasquez slowly came out to her family, each member supportive. But she also felt compelled to come out in a book, mainly because there’s so much prejudice that remains in the Latin community.

“I want to at least start a dialogue. The tide is changing.”

Patricia Velasquez


Boys Wear Skirts to School in Protest After Trans Classmate Is Fined for Doing the Same – #VouDeSaia

Being a young person in school can be difficult at the best of times. There’s the pressure of having high grades, trying to maintain a personal life during exam season and then there’s the realization that adulthood (and the responsibility that goes with it) is soon approaching. Stressful stuff. But, for transgender student Maria Muniz, things got so much more so when her school, Colégio Pedro II in Brazil, decided to fine her for wearing a skirt to school.

However, thanks to some ingenious thinking by her classmates, Colégio Pedro II may be backtracking. The decision to fine Muniz was made due to the school’s harsh dress code. While the original fine was certainly unfortunate, her classmates took it upon themselves to protest the ruling the only way they felt fit…by wearing skirts to school themselves.

Both boys and girls at the school decided to show up in skirts which caused officials to change their minds. Speaking to Brazilian publication Globo, they say that they are considering relaxing the dress code.

Not only that, but following the protest the school posted an image of the students in their skirts to Twitter which became popular on the site and saw users tweet using the hashtag #VouDeSaia in support, which translates as ‘I’ll Get By’.

Muniz also adds that “for me, wearing a skirt was about expressing my freedom over who I am inside and not how society sees me, I am really happy about the way my classmates supported me and hope it serves as an example to others to feel encouraged to do the right thing. I was always taught at school to accept who you are. I am only trying to live that.” So even if the dress code hasn’t been fully repealed (yet), Muniz’ fine has at least been overturned so it sounds like their protest paid off.

Being Trans in Brazil: Prejudice and Murder

Summer brought a glitter ball of worldwide Pride events, and in Brazil they held the biggest Pride going. However looking past the partying, we sometimes forget about the day-to-day bravery of transgender people, and the discrimination they face.

Our world has yet to take those accepting steps towards equality, and finally turn its back on discrimination. In ‘accepting’ LGBT countries, the murder of trans women is still rising, and in Brazil abuse is a daily occurrence.

In Brazil there is no word for transgender people – it is just ‘transvestite’, which is also the word used to discriminate against trans women.

Although Brazil has laws in place to protect the trans community, in practice people say and do otherwise. Trans women are freely ridiculed in the media, and in TV ‘novellas’, the nations favorite viewing, they are stereotyped as a comedy fool or street prostitute.

This prejudice doesn’t stop there, it runs deep. Families often see trans family members as a disgrace, leaving them without support and homes. The educational system and foster homes discriminate as well.

According to Grupo Gay da Bahia, every two days a LGBT person is brutally murdered in Brazil. According to the statistics only 2% of these attackes were aimed at lesbians. Most of them are on trans people.

The problem is that people do not report such crimes. In general Brazil’s police is rather weak in the face of the large scale of crimes and corruption, as well as their own prejudices. In fact, a large amount of hate crimes in Brazil are initiated by the police. This often prevents people from reporting them at all.

The largest crime committed is rape of lesbian women. If the woman comes forward the crime will never be seen as homophobia, but solely as rape by definition.

The truth is, Brazil is far less accepting than people think. The law may seem friendly, but people continue to discriminate and commit hate crimes again the LGBT community.

Going Forward With Acceptance The Brazilian Way

In Brazil, soap operas are hugely popular and it is a very interesting to see the entire population drop everything to watch them, whether they like it or not. Televisions are even put in buses to make sure that no one misses an episode. There are usually three or more running soap operas on the country’s main channel, Globo, and the most watched is the prime time show at 9 PM. The prime time soap is usually regarded as the best.

Em Familia, the current prime time soap, has already sparked controversy in Brazil and beyond. The main couple is involved with a theme of family incest. The uncle of the main character is pursuing her, claiming she resembles her mother (with whom he had an affair many years ago). Said uncle, Laerte, isn’t very well liked by viewers. Recently in Brasilia there was a protest in the main mall to take Laerte down! That’s how much the people care about the soap opera.

However Em Familia really caught the attention of many abroad due to the fact that one of the characters is having a lesbian relationship. This is a very big thing when it comes to Brazil, which doesn’t often portray gay relationships, particularly lesbian couples. The first gay kiss ever aired was between two men (of course it was rather brief as well).

The lesbian couple on Em Familia has sparked controversy among everyone, but it is a very important and positive step for Brazil. The characters Marina and Clara have gained many international fans and there have even been outcries to keep the couple together whenever anyone tries to break them up!

The show recently had a moment when these characters had to face homophobia and show how wrong it is, by highlighting how ridiculous it was for another character to say that queer women were not welcome in a bar.

The creator of the novella, Manuel Carlos, confirmed that the season finale which will be airing in a few weeks will feature the wedding of Clara and Marina! This will truly be a first for a lesbian couple to be married and also to kiss on prime time. We at KM are very excited to follow this story. Thankfully for those who do not speak Portuguese there are many versions available online for you to follow these two glamorous Brazilian women in love!

Peru’s Rights Plan Excludes All Sexual Minorities

Peru has made slow progress in the field of gay rights, and has lagged behind its neighbors in bringing recognition and equality to sexual minorities. Its bordering states Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia all recognize gay unions or marriage equality. With Chile and Bolivia, all have policies protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the provision of services, and all include queers in hate-crime legislation. Of that group, Brazil alone doesn’t protect against LGBT employment discrimination, yet Peru has had none of these progresses.

Peru remains an island where marriage, civil unions, discrimination protection, and hate-crime protection are reserved for heterosexuals.

The Peruvian debate has been characterized by a brinkmanship between a government unable to reach consensus enough to explicitly include sexual minorities in legislation, and activist groups who see claims that protection can be extended without it as insufficient if not outright insincere.

Early this month the Peruvian federal government led by President Ollanta Humala passed National Human Rights Action Plan of 2014-2016. Complaints quickly arose that LGBT people and groups were excluded from the Plan’s protection. Last week the Minister of Justice, Daniel Figallo, responded to those complaints insisting that LGBT people are included as he called on groups and populations to work against discrimination individually as well.

“No one has been excluded. The country’s main problem is discrimination; there is widespread discrimination at various levels, and we are working against it. Those positions indicating an exclusion are incorrect.”

Daniel Figallo, Minister of Justice

Still, despite his insistence that the Plan implicitly includes sexual minorities, the Plan fails to mention them in any direct way.
Unsurprisingly, rights groups have been unsatisfied with this response. They see this as another in a long line of failures on behalf of the Humala administration to extend the protections of the state to all groups.

In 2013 a hate-crime bill that would have extended protections to queer communities was rejected by a majority coalition of the Gana Peru and Fuerza Popular parties. The same parties blocked a consensus on a following civil-unions law, and the debate was postponed and never revived.

In June of this year the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a resolution regarding “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression” that included language agreeing to support anti-discrimination legislation and hate-crime recognition, and to avoid interfering in the private lives of LGBT individuals. While Peru signed the resolution, action has yet to be taken toward anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws for LGBT people.

During the debate on the Human Rights Plan 2014-2016, eighteen proposals regarding the LGBT community were rejected or edited before all were ultimately removed.