Thursday, December 08, 2022

Mothers of LGBTQ children join forces in Latin America

BUENOS AIRES ( Associated Press) – Fabu Olmedo is so nervous about clubs and restaurants in Paraguay that he often checks with one before going out at night to be sure he’ll be allowed in and not be attacked or harassed. Do not do

Olmedo doesn’t know if she can go out without risk because everyday life is difficult for transgender people in the capital, Asuncion. Now a new group of allies in Latin America is trying to improve life in this socially conservative and often highly religious region by changing mindsets.

Founded in 2017, the Latin American movement of mothers of LGBT+ children lobbies governments to remove harmful laws as well as fight violence and discrimination.

It’s an uphill battle that will take patience and years of effort, but moms are working together to help others and serve as a shelter for LGBTQ children who don’t have supportive families.

It’s about recognizing the strength and power we have as mothers to be with our children and to help other families, said Alejandra Muñoz, 62, of Mexico City. Their son Manuel came out as gay at 11 years old and faced so much bullying at school that he spent the holidays with the teachers.

She acknowledges that her son is constantly at risk of being yelled at or worse off in the street because of his sexuality.

Olmedo, 28, said he was banned from entering an Asuncion nightclub with his friends in July.

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The Latin American movement of LGBT Mothers of Children held their first face-to-face meeting in early November in Buenos Aires, where they participated in the annual massive gay pride march on 5 November.

Our main fight is to ensure that our children have equal rights throughout Latin America, said Patricia Gambetta, 49, leader of the movement, which has members in 14 countries and aims to expand to all countries in the region.

The work of mothers is often further complicated by the influence of the Catholic Church, which teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically abnormal”. The increasingly popular evangelical faith also often preaches against same-sex relationships.

There are clear differences in the acceptance of sexual minorities in Latin America. Argentina and Uruguay have been regional leaders in marriage equality and transgender rights. Other countries in the region have not yet established protections for LGBTQ populations.

Last month, same-sex marriage became law in every state in Mexico. Honduras and Paraguay prohibit same-sex marriage. In Guatemala, a conservative Congress has repeatedly attempted to pass legislation that would censor information about LGBTQ people. In Brazil, at the federal and state level, there are bills and laws that ban or restrict information about sexual orientation and gender identity, said Cristian Gonzalez Cabrera, LGBT rights researcher for Latin America and the Caribbean at Human Rights Watch. Told.

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And the laws often don’t tell the whole story.

Gonzalez Cabrera said that regardless of the legal system the youth find themselves in, prejudice and discrimination are common in the area.

Vitinia Varela Mora said her daughter, Ana Maria, decided to hide that she was a lesbian after seeing other gay students being harassed at her school in Tilran, Costa Rica, about 200 kilometers from the capital San Jose. is far. He confessed it to his mother for the first time by the age of 21.

In some countries, mothers who try to help their children cope with discrimination suddenly find themselves under scrutiny.

Claudia Delphin tried to seek help from government offices for her transgender twins, who faced bullying and discrimination at their school in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, when they were 16.

Varela Mora from Costa Rica says it took her almost two years to accept her daughter after she told him she was a lesbian, something that felt like a “bucket of cold water”.

Nothing prepares you for what a lack of education is, said Varela Mora, 59. Now she tries to support other moms whose sons have turned out to be gay.

Gonzalez Cabrera of Human Rights Watch said that LGBTQ origin groups are important in showing that regressive political projects do not respond to the needs of the region’s diverse communities.


Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.

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