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The reality of LGBTI life in Mexico

Sun 19 Jun 2016 In: People View at Wayback View at NDHA

Andrés Gaeta Rivera is involved with Centro Ser, a Tijuana based non-profit organisation that works to give HIV preventive and medical care for vulnerable groups around the border area. Centro Ser's work includes advocacy for the human rights of the LGBTI community. He speaks to about the reality of crimes against LGBTI people in Mexico and what kind of response he would like to see from the international community following the horrific mass shooting at a gay bar in Xalapa. Andrés hasn’t heard of any response from LGBTI communities in Mexico following the mass shooting in Xalapa gay bar La Madame that killed at least 7 people and left 12 injured, in fact he says he himself only found out about the Xalapa attacks after reading what had happened in Orlando. “Which makes me question the relationship that the LGBTI community has with media outlets and the ability for queer voices to be heard,” he says. The LGBTI human rights advocate says a lot of how you are treated as an openly LGBTI person in Mexico depends on where you are. “I may have the support of my family and social networks, but being openly gay does mean having to look out for myself when it comes to shows of affection and the way I dress or speak in public spaces that you’re unfamiliar with—this includes some public institutions and the public health sector in order to avoid discrimination.” He says he believes the handling of crimes against LGBTI people, even those that are not hate crimes, is “definitely different” from that of other crimes. “The reality is that the media does not acknowledge the vulnerability of the LGBTI community—often using the wrong terms to address us and utilising a discriminatory discourse while doing so. “Many media outlets continue to ignore the fact that many of the victims of the Xalapa attack were members of the LGBTI community,” he says. “The coverage of this story had a local, not national reach, too. As they do with many incidents of violence in Mexico that have to do with discrimination, the causes are attributed to the Drug War and organised crime rather than any systemic injustices.” Andrés says he believes the media are downplaying the shooting and adds, “to a degree—violence in Mexico is normalised.” “A shooting in Mexico is not big news anymore, but at the same time it obscures cases where the situations were to do with the stigma and discrimination that the LGBTI communities face. It’s hard for these stories to reach out to places outside of Mexico City.” “Just like there was a historic presidential speech on the 17th of May on the International Day Against Homophobia, just like how there was a speech in solidarity with the shooting at the bar in Orlando, there should be a denouncement of the Xalapa attacks. “This should be followed by major media coverage and legislative action against all sorts of hate crimes happening in Mexico.” Andrés says the international community needs to be aware that Mexico occupies the second place in the world when it comes to hate crimes of homophobic and transphobic nature. “They need to acknowledge that transwomen often flee Mexico seeking political asylum in the USA as a response to these crimes. “Any actions that the international community partakes in should focus on advocacy against these crimes. I would like to see the international community acknowledging the barriers that the LGBTI community faces when seeking justice and human rights on sexual violence cases.”     - 19th June 2016


First published: Sunday, 19th June 2016 - 4:41pm

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