Feature Image by Natacha Pisarenko. Via the Washington Post
While President Obama was evolving on gay rights, politicians in other countries were taking gay rights to the next level. In the last week, Chile, Argentina and Cuba have all seen monumental moments for equal rights. Maybe if Obama doesn’t win the next election, I’ll stop making half-hearted jokes about moving to Canada and actually relocate to Latin America.
Chile’s congress passed a new hate-crime bill 25-2. The bill, which is the country’s first to include protection for gay individuals, allows for anti-discrimination lawsuits and adds hate-crime sentences. Though held up in Chile’s Congress for seven years, efforts to pass the anti-discrimination law were refueled following the gay bashing and murder of Daniel Zamudio. Zamundio was attacked by neo-Nazi, specifically members of Nazis del Centro, who threw rocks and bottles at him, burned him with cigarettes and carved swastikas into the young gay man before he slipped in to a coma and died.
The law, which is now widely referred to as the Zamudio Law, defines discrimination as “distinction, exclusion or restriction that lacks reasonable justification” and protects against those targeted due to their “race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, ideology, political opinion, religious beliefs, participation in organizations or lack thereof, sex, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, health and disabilities.”
From Gay Liberation and Integration Movement President Rolando Jimenez:
This is the beginning of the end for those who discriminate against sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin and race. Today citizens have a judicial tool to defend themselves against discrimination. That is very good news. Starting today, Chile is a better place to live.
Argentina made news Friday as it officially sits on top of the world of trans* rights. Previously being the first country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage, Argentina is now the first country in the world to allow individuals to change their legal gender, image and name without a judge’s or doctor’s approval. Additionally, children under 18 can legally change their gender with consent from their parents. Alternatively, parents cannot change their child’s legal gender without the child’s consent and a judge intervening to protect the child’s interest. In other words, Argentinean law now recognizes that it is not your body or actions that determine your gender, it’s how you personally identify.
The new law is critically important for individuals or can’t or don’t want to undergo costly surgeries or who haven’t been living as their true self for an extended period of time (as is often required for legal gender changes in other countries). Still, health insurance companies are now required to provide hormone treatment or surgery at no extra cost for those who seek it. “There’s a whole set of medical criteria that people have to meet to change their gender in the U.S., and meanwhile this gives the individual an extraordinary amount of authority for how they want to live” said Stanford University medical anthropologist and bioethicst Katrina Karkazis. “It’s really incredible.”
During a Cuban gay pride parade in Havana, Mariela Castro announced that her father, President Raul Castro, supports gay rights and hopes to end gender/sexuality based discrimination. Though Mariela Castro is not queer, she has long advocated for gay rights and runs Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education. “[President Castro] has done some advocacy work, speaking of the need to make progress in terms of rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Mariela Castro. “He himself has said that… we cannot make progress if we continue to live with these prejudices.”
Historically, homosexuality was stigmatized and criminalized in Cuba. Members of the LGBTQ community were interned in forced labor camps during the 60s and 70s, public homosexual displays of affection were illegal until 1979, and the government cracked down on LGBT groups and individuals during the late 90s and early 2000s. Still, gay rights appear to be improving in Cuba. In 2010, Cuban government legalized gender reassignment surgery and included it in the state-sponsored healthcare. That same year, Fidel Castro called pursecution of homosexuals under his regime “a great injustice, great injustice” and took responsibility for allowing it to occur.
In many ways, Mariela Castro’s comments seem to be part of a growing trend towards gay rights in Cuba. Her comments follow a January resolution by Cuba’s Communist Party Congress “to fight against all forms of discrimination, including against sexual discrimination, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity.” Mariela Castro even indicated that President Raul Castro, while against gay marriage, might find support for civil unions. “The Cuban president… has been talking about this issue, but he has not made it public,” she said. “It is surely part of his strategy.” Unfortunately, as Cuba remains a country where protest is illegal, equality will only be realized if President Raul Castro does decide that gay rights are in his strategy.
Chilean politics are so damn interesting. I mean of course I find most all of that business interesting, but I’ve read the most about Chile/have more friends there.
This is awesome! Latin America is improving so much in terms of LGBT* rights! I´m from Ecuador we have civil unions for same sex couples but not marriage. Our constitutions is one of the most protective constitutions in Latin America of the LGBT* community, we also have an openly lesbian Health Minister who is also one of the biggest LGBT* activist. We still have a long path in terms of discrimination, but we have the laws that will help us advance.
You go Latin America!
Trust me, you’d likely be better off continuing south than coming up here. Between the millionth attempt to re-open the abortion debate, the elimination of funding to major arts and women-centred organizations and institutions (not to mention library and archive services – it’s hard to make sound comparisons to then and now when you start wiping a country’s history), and most recently a real effort to make sure that refugees can’t get healthcare for things like heart attacks, our federal government is turning Canada into a scary, scary place.
The Argentina law is seriously amazing. Like, it makes ever other country look 50 years behind when it comes to gender equality and trans* rights. And the law passed 55-0. Can you even begin to imagine this happening in the US?
For those of you who speak Spanish, you should really check out this video that aired on Argentinian television in the months leading up to the new law because it’s fucking beautiful:
Correction: there are English subtitles! :)
right??! Argentina’s new legislation has officially boggled my mind. how incredibly humane it is…not only recognizing that trans* people exist, but that we deserve to be respected and to have access to the medical treatments we might need. that we can be ourselves.
that shouldn’t be such a huge, incredible, mind-boggling thing. it should be reasonable.
Argentinian here and proud! ♥
Yay, Argentina! Right now I can’t even afford to think about getting my vagina because of how expensive it’s going to be thanks to U.S. health norms.
Yes, when I look at the complete cost for my transition, it’s mind boggling. It’s just one day at a time I guess.
Sorry for my ignorance but why do we put an asterisk after trans now?
To recognize the variances in trans identities.
“trans*” generally meant to stand for transgender and transsexual (and often other gender non-conforming identities), transmen and transwomen, etc.
it’s based off Boolean search terms, in which an asterisk represents a wildcard or variety of suffixes and allows you to find broader search results.
Argentina is so progressive and lovely that they make me want to gay marry the entire country.
I hope I don’t get yelled at for saying this, but nobody else finds it worrisome that children under 18 can legally change their gender without their parents permission? Like, I get that some young people do not have supportive parents. But I’ve studied adolescent development and its a real thing. Adolescents have limited ability to make judgement calls and think about long-term consequences of decisions. Like, the physical part of their brain that controls those things isn’t fully developed. I’m just saying, waiting til they are 18 to legally change their gender might be better.
Don’t get mad.
Word. I went through a phase where I thought I was transgender. I now identify as definitely female. I’d be kind of… Not happy if someone hadn’t made me wait until I was 18 to be sure. I mean, assuming that you’re fairly “conscious” by age 7, it just doesn’t leave you much time to really feel out who you are by 14 or 16 etc.
But I’m all for any kind of progress in a dead-heat battle like ours.
I read the article as those under 18 DO need parental consent. But otherwise I totally see your point.
yes, further research on google confirmed this for me.
oops yep I misread the sentence. Thanks!
…and Argentina is home to one of the better facial feminization surgeons, Dr DiMaggio ( spare the baseball jokes, please?)
I’m currently living in Chile (Valparaíso) and can totally see these changes happening before my eyes. It’s amazing watching my queer Chilean friends’ parents overcoming old prejudices when their kids come out. And I think a lot of it can be attributed to this huge leftist resurgence with the student movement/Piñera’s obviously failed presidency…the same ideals guiding the student protests have been worming their way into people’s perceptions of gender and sexuality. Es la raja poh weon (it’s awesome dude).
Wait, Amurica isn’t the best at everything?
Mario Vargas Llosa (nobel price in literature) wrote a really good article recently about homophobia in Latin America. In case anyone is interested, I translated it:
As a bisexual,and a half Cuban and half Bajan American, this makes me happy that things are changing.