Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fighting Discrimination in Nuevo León

Montemorelos, Mexico.- It is very sad that in an era where even Pope Francis has said that "if someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge," discrimination still remains rampant in northern México. Members of the LGBT community (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders)  are denied jobs by government officials in the state of Nuevo León, the richest place in this country after the Federal District, and  many people there are too stigmatized to seek medical care, putting their lives at risk as a consequence.

Fortunately, there are a few people in Nuevo León who are fighting to change the status quo. Pamela Guajardo, a trans-woman from Linares, and a sex educator,  is one of them. Guajardo has launched a campaign to educate the inhabitants of the Citrus Region, an area which includes the cities of Allende, Montemorelos, Terán, Hualahuises and Rayones, all of them just south of Monterrey.

"Discrimination is a loss of liberty," said Guajardo today on the radio station Atmósfera, in Montemorelos. "The fact that we are being denied jobs because we do not dress like the rest, that people don't want you to work in their businesses, that is a lack of freedom." Atmosfera is run by the State of  Nuevo Leon's government, and it's housed in the city palace.

This is true (discrimination by Montemorelos officials), said Erika de Alejandro, Atmosfera's radio presenter. "Because the city offers jobs, and we have received anonymous complaints from people who said that they have been denied jobs because they' are not heterosexual. "We (government workers) should be the first ones to be educated about sexual diversity."

"People should have the freedom to choose what their sexual preference is on their own," said Guajardo. Secondly, she continued, they should get informed. Because he fact that they are not getting information is affecting heterosexual people as well, especially housewives who become ill because of their husbands infidelities."

Mexico's north is very conservative. Homophobia and stigma are common, as well as the words "faggot," "butterfly," or "whore'" when referring to gays or women. This needs to change. The treatment of the LGBT community by government and health officials (health care is provided by the government in México) has alienated them, and due to this many have died. People who think they have contracted HIV are too stigmatized to seek health care and they die, when HIV positive people in the United States can live a normal life. Also, women who do not know they are HIV-positive are also putting their babies at risk, when there is medicine to stop the infection.

Aruba Williams, second from the right
Aruba Williams, a trans-woman who is also a very good friend of mine, is another person who's educating people in Monterrey. She is a diversity coordinator for Comunidad Metropolitana, A.C. (COMAC). Williams promotes sex education and the rights of women. Last November, Williams performed in Barrio Antiguo supporting the end of abuse towards women.

Guajardo encourages people to file complaints if they are being discriminated against or harassed in the State of Nuevo León. Those affected can go directly to the Public Ministry, or they can contact the State Commission on Human Rights (CEDH). There are also several organizations like the Metropolitan Community, A.C. (COMAC), and Las Juanas, a collective of gay and bisexual women in the state. 

Why should your neighbor be curious about your sexual orientation?, asked Pamela. Contact the Public Ministry, or myself if you are being harassed. Pamela will be on Atmosfera again this Friday, ad 1:30p.m., to talk about sexual diversity and to continue educating Nuevo León.

Link to Spanish version/Enlace a historia en español.

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