January 10, 2009 – TradingMarkets.com
Same-sex union sets precedent in Mexico City’s most countrified corner
by Raul Cortes
Mexico – Without trying to attract attention but emboldened by the love that binds them, Nancy and Carmen set a brand new precedent in Mexico City’s most rural district by contracting the first gay civil union in the borough of Milpa Alta, a singularly indigenous and religious area.
Accompanied by Carmen’s son from a previous relationship and by their friends, the two women were joined this Friday in a union of cohabitation, a formula under which for the last two years Mexico City has allowed gays to have the same matrimonial rights and duties as heterosexuals. The "wedding," enveloped in secrecy but unable to escape media attention, was solemn but pervaded with happiness, despite a few dark shadows such as the absence of the couple’s parents.
"We feel sad but respect their ideas. From the first they have shown their support, all their understanding, we know we can count on them, they’ve never turned their backs on us, but because of their religion they’re staying on the sidelines," Nancy Garcia, 27, told Efe. At her side her partner Carmen Nuñez, 25, looked on lovingly, while her son Abimael, just 4 years old, broke up the seriousness of the government office where the unprecedented wedding took place presided over by Marco Aurelio Morales, director general of the borough’s government and judiciary.
"This is the first time in the borough of Milpa Alta that we have created a union of this kind," Morales said proudly after the ceremony. Which was perfectly understandable, for the district is a stark example of Mexico City’s abysmal contrasts, a metropolis where powerful executives arrive at their offices in helicopters while in the streets people still ply such ancient trades as organ-grinder. Located at 2,420 meters (7,934 feet) above sea level and more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the historical downtown district in the mountains around the Valley of Mexico, Milpa Alta is the least populated of the capital’s 16 boroughs with some 115,000 inhabitants, and is the second biggest in area with 27,500 hectares (67,900 acres), mostly dedicated to agriculture.
It is the nation’s leading producer of nopal, or prickly pear, a cactus whose leaf is one of the chief components of the Mexican diet, particularly among the poor. Nopal, corn, broad beans, kidney beans, squash and oats are the main crops of the area, divided into 11 villages and benefited by environmental conservation rules that have halted the demographic explosion seen in other nearby boroughs. The area is reached by a highway flanked by fields of nopal that make the visitor feel very distant from the hubbub of the big city.
Since 1971 it has also had the official status of an indigenous community due to the strong presence of descendants of the Aztec Empire defeated by Hernan Cortes and who speak the Nahuatl language. It is also famous for its popular religious festivals, of which there are 729 per year, an average of practically two a day.
"I believe in a very subjective way that in the end, Milpa Alta’s customs will usually put up a certain resistence to ceremonies like this," Morales admitted after the wedding. "Nonetheless, as we have seen today, the same community, the same society is getting more sensitive," he added.
Questioned by Efe, most of the passers-by expressed certain reservations about the union of Nancy and Carmen. "Two women have married the same man?" storekeeper Lilia Martinez asked incredulously. "Ah, they’re a couple! That shouldn’t be, but now we have to respect their decision," she said after the reporter explained the situation. Less understanding was Andres Lopez, a vendor with a big moustache sporting the classic sombrero and cowboy boots: "What can we say? We can’t do anything."
The Law of Cohabitation Unions, which establishes rights and duties between partners to do with food, health, housing and inheritances and only applies to Mexico city, went into effect at the end of 2006 and in its first year allowed more than 300 unions of this kind. The law has placed the Mexican capital in the forefront of social change, together with the decriminalization of abortion in 2007, in a country with a secular government but still one of the chief bastions of the Catholic Church in Latin America. Same-sex unions have since been made legal in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. EFE
January 15, 2009 – Zenit.org
Clarification of Statement on Homosexuality – "Desire Cannot Be the Foundation for the Law"
Mexico City (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a press statement released today by Monsignor Carlos Simón Vazquez, subsecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Various interpretations have been made regarding the reference Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, made in his words at the opening of the Theological-Pastoral Congress of Mexico. The cardinal wanted to underline three important aspects:
1. Homosexuality is not a necessary component of society, as is the family. Society is organized around the relationship of the couple that is formed by a man and a woman. They find each other in conjugal life and in family life. In this sense, the couple and the family enter into the sphere of social life, and because of this, of civil law. The relationship between two persons of the same sex is not the same as the relationship of a couple that is based on the sexual difference. These two situations depend on structures that are not of the same nature.
The homosexual relationship does not enter into this social sphere. It is, as such, a private question. Legislators make an anthropological error when they want to socially organize homosexuality. They run the risk of provoking an intellectual confusion, as well as confusion of identity and relationships. It should not be forgotten that confusion frequently favors insecurity, unstable relationships and violence, when legislators don’t respect the fundamental sense of human relationships.
The family is a common good of humanity that is not at the free disposition of legislators to respond to the subjective and problematic demands of today. The individual desire cannot be the foundation for the law. Here we find ourselves in the presence of a confusion between the law, which is of the public domain, and the desire, which is subjective.
2. Affirming that homosexuality is a private fact, the president of the Pontifical Council of the Family is not justifying it. The cardinal simply underlined that homosexuality does not contribute favorably to the organization of individuals and of society. The exercise of homosexuality does not reflect the truth of friendship. Friendship is inherent to the human condition in that it offers relationships of proximity, help and cooperation, in a courteous and amiable climate. Friendship should be lived chastely.
3. The Church maintains its preoccupation of welcoming and accompanying homosexual persons. Every person that has difficulties to live their sexuality properly is called to find Christ and to live, consequently, in accord with the demands of liberty and responsibility of faith, hope and charity. On the other hand, it is contrary to the truth of the human identity and the design of God to live a homosexual experience, a relationship of this type, and even more to attempt to demand same-sex marriage. It is contrary to the true interests of the persons and of the needs of society. It constitutes a transgression of the sense of love as God has revealed to us through the message of Christ, of which the Church is a servant, as an expression of love toward the men and women of our time.
[Translation by ZENIT]
March 2009 – PassportMagazine.com
What’sNew in…Puerto Vallarta
by Stuart Haggas
In Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire,” chirped Audrey Hepburn as My Fair Lady’s Eliza Doolittle, “hurricanes hardly ever happen.” This tongue-twister is also true of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Whereas competitors like Cancun and Playa Del Carmen are repeatedly lashed by ferocious winds and torrential rain, the last hurricane to hit Puerto Vallarta was 2002’s Hurricane Kenna. It isn’t all blue sky and sunshine for PV. In fact, this former fishing village became famous thanks to a stormy celebrity romance.
When director John Houston filmed Tennessee Williams’ The Night Of The Iguana on location at nearby Mismaloya Beach in 1963, leading man Richard Burton sparked on screen with actresses Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr—but it was his turbulent off-screen affair with Elizabeth Taylor that brought the paparazzi to Puerto Vallarta, and brought the town to the world’s attention.
Elizabeth Taylor divorced husband Eddie Fisher, married Burton, and they bought a love-nest in Vallarta’s Gringo Gulch neighborhood. Others who remained once filming was complete included John Houston’s former private chef, Archie, who opened Archie’s Wok (Francisca Rodriguez 130. Tel: 322-222-0411) in 1986, a Pan Asian restaurant that’s still popular today. The presence of bohemian Hollywood types gave Vallarta a jet-set allure, and contributed to it becoming the gay-friendly artist’s haven that we know and love today.
The arrival of Peter Deep in May 2005 may not have made the same impact as either Hurricane Kenna or Elizabeth Taylor, but nonetheless within six months Puerto Vallarta’s gay scene would be irrevocably transformed. Joint-owner of LA cruise club The Zone, Deep fell in love with Puerto Vallarta while here on vacation. “I’d always come with friends,” he told me. “We’d spend the day at Blue Chairs Beach, take a siesta, have a fabulous meal, then watch some strippers.” It was once his friends had departed, and Deep found himself taking quiet walks around the town, that he became enamoured of another side of Puerto Vallarta. That’s when he decided to sell his LA home and business and relocate here—a move that was documented on the Bravo reality show Million Dollar Listing.
Although a TV crew filmed him for six months, the most interesting part of his story began when the cameras stopped rolling. He’d bought a handsome Mexican family hacienda moments from popular gay venues like Club Paco Paco (Ignacío L. Vallarta 278. Tel: 322-222-1899. www.club-pacopaco.com) and Los Amigos (V. Carranza 237. Tel: 322-222-7802. www.bar-los-amigos.com). The downside of living in historic and charming Zona Romantica, however, was inadequate plumbing and electricity, street noise, and dust that required two housekeepers to keep in check. Deep therefore made a decision worthy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Supported by business partner Shaun Butler, he converted his home of just four months into a gay nightclub.
Club Mañana (V. Carranza 290. Tel. 322-222-7772. www.clubmanana.com) opened in November 2005. Much of the hacienda’s original configuration remained, as did the swimming pool and patio, giving Mañana the vibe of an exclusive house party. Deep told me he never expected to impact Paco Paco’s business, but within months of opening, Mañana was the #1 gay club in Puerto Vallarta; its outdoor dancefloor, lazy poolside cabañas, and candlelit chillout areas are the places to flirt with frisky young locals. In contrast, Paco Paco and cowboy-themed sibling Paco’s Ranch resembled a ghost town.
With Paco Paco now under new ownership, look out for a comeback. Meanwhile, Mañana continues to raise the stakes: from this season Mañana will open at noon for swimming and sunbathing, and new licensing means the club can operate from 10 P.M. till 11 A.M. Last summer, part of this venue became Que Raro, a restaurant with hearty American fare served by drag queen waitresses. Although meatloaf and chicken fried steak might not sound conducive to a climate best suited to swimwear, as Peter points out, “There’s not as much body fascism as back in the States. Here a bit of meat on your bones means you’re doing well.” So in Vallarta you can have dessert!
Mañana’s popularity nurtured the development of other gay venues nearby, and today Lázaro Cárdenas is beginning to rival Olas Atlas as Vallarta’s queer main street. Hereabouts you’ll find martini and show tune lounge La Noche (Lázaro Cárdenas 257. Tel: 322-222-3364. www.lanochepv.com); hip iPod-size dancebar Stereo (Lázaro Cárdenas 267. www.myspace.com/stereopv); contemporary lounge bar and tapas-style pizzeria Encuentros (Lázaro Cárdenas 312. Tel: 322-222-0643); rustic neighborhood cantina Frida (Lázaro Cárdenas 361. www.fridaunbar.partyvarty.com), its décor celebrating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; and Diva’s Bar (Francisco I Madero 388. Tel: 322-222-7774. www.divaspv.com), displaying attitude with monochrome photos of international and Latina diva’s. Nearby Plasma (Pino Suarez 235. Tel: 322-134-5415. www.plasmavallarta.com) is a men-only, seventies-style cruise club and labyrinth. Gentlemen’s club Antropology (Morelos 101, Plaza Rio) is under new ownership, but I can confirm that the continuous lineup of male strippers is as friendly and approachable as ever.
Also under new ownership is famous Blue Chairs Beach Resort, the world’s biggest beachfront gay hotel, enjoying an unrivaled location on Los Muertos Beach. The original owners recently lost their lease, but the new owners continue to operate it as a gay hotel, albeit under the slightly tweaked name Blue Chairs Resort By The Sea (Malecón y Almendro 4. Tel: 322-222-5040. www.hotelbluechairs.com). Teething problems mean that many seem to favor nearby Abbey Hotel (Pulpito 138, Tel: 322-222-4488. www.abbeyhotelvallarta.com), which with 55 rooms and 13 suites, is now Vallarta’s largest gay hotel.
Meanwhile, many young gay patas saladas, a term referring to Vallarta natives that means “salty legs,” are currently favoring Ritmos Beach Café (sometimes known as Green Chairs) rather than the original Blue Chairs Beach.
The gay scene isn’t the only place seeing a transformation. Puerto Vallarta consistently expands beyond its humble fishing village origins, with luxurious beachfront resorts and condominiums being constructed along the whole arc of Banderas Bay. Although such sleek properties appeal to gay men and lesbians, their location far from the gay beach, bars, and clubs is a negative attribute. Currently, however, several blocks of rundown properties within Zona Romantica itself have been cleared to make way for stylish new condominiums. Shani Ledah of realtors Timothy Fuller & Associates (Rodolfo Gomez 122. Tel: 322-222-1535. www.timothyfuller.com) gave me a tour of Residencias Molino De Agua (www.residenciasmolinodeagua.com), 110 huge, modern, three-bedroom condominiums directly on Los Muertos Beach at Rio Cuale—a location guaranteed to tempt every gay man and lesbian. Built using Mexican materials and craftsmanship, and surrounded by indigenous tropical landscaping, it’s designed to fit in with Zona Romantica’s colorful community ambience.
Other developments are being constructed amid the lush, jungle-covered hills of Amapas, just moments from Zona Romantica. My favorite was Rio Amapas (www.rioamapas.com.mx), twenty contemporary glass, marble, and concrete villas set among 200-year-old palm trees and exotic flora and fauna. Nearby Casa Cupula (Callejon de la Igualdad 129. Tel: 322-223-2484. www.casacupula.com) is considered Vallarta’s most upscale gay boutique hotel. It’s so gorgeous that many guests don’t want to leave, and owner Don Pickens decided to expand the property to incorporate Casa Cupula Private Residences: luxuriously furnished full and fractional ownership apartments, penthouses, and villas adjacent to the hotel. Billed as the world’s first condo-hotel for gay men and friends, phase one, comprising eight units uniquely styled by some of Mexico’s top designers and featuring roof terraces, infinity dipping pools, home theaters, and other extravagant amenities, was completed in November 2007. And if you ever fall out of love with a property you buy in Puerto Vallarta, you can always follow Peter Deep’s lead and convert it into a nightclub!
March 19, 2009 – Google.com
Mexico sees rare, openly gay mayoral candidate
Mexico City (AP) — A small Mexican political party has made an unusual choice in tapping an openly gay candidate to run for mayor of the conservative city of Guadalajara. The Social Democratic Party is nominating 31-year-old helicopter pilot Miguel Antonio Galan for the July 5 election.
The party earned about 2.6 percent support nationwide in a December poll.
Galan acknowledges that winning "is not the most likely scenario" in Guadalajara, which has been in the hands of the right-wing National Action Party for more than a decade. But he said Tuesday he hopes to raise proposals to "improve the situation for the majority by addressing the needs of minorities." Parts of Mexico have recently passed legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions.
April 5, 2009 – Examiner.com
Gay resort owner fights negative news about Mexico
The owner of Puerto Vallarta’s most luxurious gay resort is fighting back against the impression that Mexico is unsafe. Recent reports of drug-related violence on the US Mexico border has meant that some have cancelled their spring break plans. Don Pickens, the San Francisco man who owns Casa Cupula, posted this on his Web site recently: The major violence has focused in the border town areas and is mainly between rival gangs and the Mexican Army and police. Major tourist areas like Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cabo and others are unaffected. Mexico’s government realizes the importance of keeping these areas safe as it represents the country’s crown jewels. Like in any other city, tourists need to take reasonable precautions, and realize they are in a foreign country, but Puerto Vallarta is as safe for tourists as ever.
We asked some of our recent guests, who visited in March 2009, to share their comments with you about security so that you could read first-hand about people’s experience. I think it will ease any fears. Remember, don’t believe everything you read or hear on TV. Especially on cable TV, hype and exaggeration are the rule of the day, and level-headed attempts to explain complicated issues are few and far between on any subject.
We at Casa Cupula have spent 6 years building a business that creates a rare, safe environment for the gay and lesbian community and our friends. We’ve been recognized as one of the most luxurious boutique hotels in the world for the gay community. With your support, we’ve grown from a small five room guesthouse in 2002 to a 20 room luxury boutique hotel today with a staff of over 20 people. As you’ll read below, gay, straight and lesbian guests have all not only felt safe, but were also surprised at how exaggerated press reports are.
This press hurts our business and tourism in Vallarta at at time when economic woes make for a difficult enough situation. We have spent years building a great staff who, as you’ll read below, give great service to our guests. A big drop-off in our business may mean we cannot retain them, and it would be terrible to have such a loss to future guests. Many of these guests chose on their own to provide their full names and cities, so you know they are real. If you have any questions about security, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to welcoming you soon to Casa Cupula. The weather’s great, the city is secure, and our facilities and service are better than ever. And this summer, with our Theme Weeks and the high value of the dollar, your money goes farther than ever.
April 22, 2009 – DailyQueerNews
Mexico: Homophobic cell-phone store ad
In this regional spot from Northern Mexico for a cell phone dealer called Ahorro Cel, a woman receives a call from someone asking to speak to her, “maricon,” or faggot, son. To which she replies, “He’s no faggot!” To which her son, who has popped out of the adjoining room in drag, applying blush, replies in his queeniest whine, “Yes I am, mah!” Then the announcer says something about expecting the unexpected from Ahorro Cel. And then there’s a gay little person because all adds about Mexicans must feature a little person.
June 9, 2009 – Miami Herald
In macho culture, gays find acceptance in Mexico City district
by Mairys Joaquin, McClatchy Newspapers
Mexico City – Bright neon lights twinkle from bars and clubs on the otherwise dimly lit streets of the Mexican capital’s trendy Zona Rosa district. Same-sex couples embrace lovingly in public or hold hands without drawing so much as a raised eyebrow. Only one word describes this place, 21-year-old Antonio Flores said: freedom.
"It’s really hard to be gay in the smaller, more conservative states within Mexico," said Flores, an aspiring actor and model. "I moved to Zona Rosa not just for my career but also for a chance to finally try and be accepted within my community." For Flores and countless other gay people, the Zona Rosa’s urban, chic appeal – complete with fashionable restaurants, gay bars and swank boutiques – has become a haven in a country and a culture that long have rejected homosexuality and shunned homosexuals. Gay activists say that even though laws are improving in relatively more liberal places such as Mexico City – where legislators passed a law two years ago recognizing same-sex marriages – many are still reluctant to acknowledge their sexual orientation publicly.
"Homophobia is engrained in all different parts of our culture," said Manuel Herrera, a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender activist leader within Amnesty International. Thus Mexico City’s Zona Rosa district has become for many what New York’s Greenwich Village was in the 1950s: a destination for gays attempting to escape parts of Mexico where anti-gay violence and discrimination are still common. Flores came to the Zona Rosa three months ago from Hidalgo, a small state on Mexico’s east coast where he’d endured years of abuse in his native town, he said.
"For many years, I was afraid to come out of the closet, because this lifestyle is not condoned or accepted by any means," he said. Yet, Flores said, even in the Zona Rosa, things are far from perfect. Many still choose the "closeted gay life" and are "playing it both ways."
"Right now, being gay is the hip thing to do, so a lot of people just dabble and try things out," he said. "But when it comes down to being honest with themselves about their feelings or preferences, they take the easy route and claim to be straight." Herrera said that machismo and discrimination against homosexuals were difficult to escape in Mexican culture, even in areas such as La Zona. "Yes, the laws have improved for Mexico City, but that doesn’t change people’s attitudes or dissolve the predominance of machismo within our culture," Herrera said.
In November 2006, Mexico City legislators approved La Ley de Sociedad de Conveniencia, a law that recognized same-sex marriages within the federal district. In the United States, five states now recognize same-sex marriages: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It will become legal in Vermont on Sept. 1. Despite the new law in Mexico City, however, many gays are still reluctant to acknowledge their homosexuality, and as a result, a subculture of "closeted gays" persists.
Daniel Lund of The Mund Group, a public-opinion polling firm, calls Mexico City an exception, "a bastion of social liberalism" in a society where the Roman Catholic Church still shapes views on social issues. "You have a very secular modern society in Mexico City," Lund said. "Full of Roman Catholics with fairly moderate ideas."
Jonathan Perreda, a 20-year-old computer-software specialist, said that he’d been a devout Catholic his entire life. The church, he said, generally disapproves of homosexuality, but he said he’d been accepted because he’d maintained his gender identity. "Just because I’m gay does not mean I have to act like woman," Perreda said. "You were born a man, so you should act like one."
Herrera said that machismo remained prevalent in Mexico, even within the gay community. He said there was a difference between being classified as "gay" and being "homosexual." "Being homosexual is just having the preference to be with the same sex," he said, "but to be gay is to be involved in it politically, which most people don’t want to do." But, Herrera added, because of the stigmas attached to both, many avoid labels altogether. This causes concern about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
"They don’t consider themselves gay, but will have relations with the same sex one night and go back and have relations with someone of the opposite sex the next night," Herrera said. "Many times, these individuals are not being safe, and they aid in the spread (of) HIV and AIDS." According to a study by The American Foundation for AIDS Research released last year at a global AIDS conference in Mexico City, gay and bisexual men in Latin America are 33 percent more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population is. In Mexico, 26 percent of men who’d had sex with men had HIV, the highest rate in Latin America.
Herrera said the root of closeted homosexuality in Mexico was the ideological dichotomy in the country. "The truth is, despite advancements, homosexuals in Mexico are not yet free," he said. "Those who maintain themselves in the same safe circle of friends may feel free, but the moment they begin to branch out, they’d begin to see the discrimination that still exists … even in Mexico City. … Not everyone wants to deal with that."
(Joaquin is a student at Penn State University. This story was reported from Mexico City for a class in international journalism.)
June 17, 2009 – IGLHRC.org
Mexico: Discriminatory Regulation Repealed in Puerto Vallarta
On February 13, 2009, IGLHRC and Puerto Vallartan activists issued an action alert urging people to write to the President of Puerto Vallarta’s Regulations Commission asking him to introduce a measure before the city council that would repeal Article 40, Section XIV of the misdemeanors code. Article 40, Section XIV of this code defined immorality to include: "public practices that indicate the development of an abnormal sexual life."
Historically, misdemeanors codes have been used to persecute, abuse and arrest people whose sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression deviates from social norms. These regulations have enabled various types of police abuse, such as the arrests of gay men and lesbians for simple acts of affection, like holding each other’s hands. Such discrimination—always in violation of basic human rights—occured in Puerto Vallarta despite contravening the provisions of Mexico’s constitution.
On May 31, 2009, Puerto Vallarta’s city council repealed Article 40, Section XIV of the misdemeanors code, in large part due to advocacy by organizations, victims and activists, including those who sent letters in response to IGLHRC’s request.
IGLHRC would like to thank everyone who responsed to its action alert. To learn more about the issue and view the alert, click here.
Mexico: Derogan Regulación Discriminatoria en Puerto Vallarta
El 12 de febrero de 2009, IGLHRC publicó junto a activistas de Puerto Vallarta una acción de alerta solicitando que escriban al Presidente de la Comisión Edilicia de Reglamentos Municipales que eleve al pleno del Ayuntamiento el dictamen de la iniciativa para derogar el Artículo 40, Fracción XIV, del Reglamento de Policía y Buen Gobierno del Municipio que consideraba faltas a la moral y a las buenas costumbres "las prácticas públicas que impliquen el desarrollo de una vida sexual anormal".
Históricamente los códigos policiales y otras regulaciones similares muchas veces son utilizados para perseguir, abusar y arrestar a personas cuya orientación sexual y/o identidad de género difiere de las normas sociales. Estas regulaciones también promueven varios tipos de abuso policial tales como arrestos a gays y lesbianas por simples demostraciones de afecto como tomarse de las menos. Tales discriminaciones conforman violaciones a los Derechos Humanos como así también una contravención a las propia Constitución Mexicana.
El 31 de Mayo de 2009, el Ayuntamiento de Puerto Vallarta derogo el Artículo 40, Fracción XIV, del Reglamento de Policía y Buen Gobierno del Municipio debido en gran parte al trabajo de advocacy realizado por organizaciones, victimas y activistas, incluyendo aquellos quienes mandaron cartas en respuesta al pedido de IGLHRC.
July 14, 2009 – IPS News
Mexico: Int’l AIDS Funds Necessary but Not Sufficient
by Emilio Godoy
Mexico City (IPS) – For the first time, Mexico is eligible for a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But even if its application is successful, resources for HIV/AIDS prevention among high-risk sectors of the population will fall short. The Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), the Mexican body which interacts with the Global Fund, presented a proposal in June for 76.5 million dollars for HIV/AIDS prevention programmes among men who have sex with men (MSM) and injection drug users (IDU) – the groups with the highest HIV prevalence, with rates of 10 percent for MSM and six percent among IDU.
"The grant money could help curtail the spread of the illness, because there is an imbalance between prevention and treatment. But it won’t be enough," Anuar Luna, president of the Mexican Network of People Living with HIV and a member of the CCM, told IPS. The proposal, which was seen by IPS, is for a five-year period, and its stated goal is "strengthening the national response to HIV for MSM and male and female IDU in Mexico."
"If the Global Fund approves the grant, the Mexican health ministry will have more resources to target populations that were left out of the proposal, such as sex workers," Alejandra Gil, head of the Mexican sex workers rights organisation APROASE and a member of the CCM, told IPS. The first HIV/AIDS cases in Mexico were reported in 1983 and were mainly caused by blood transfusions. In 1987 the government banned the sale of blood and its subproducts in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease.
In 2007 the number of people in Mexico living with HIV was 200,000, the second largest affected population in Latin America after Brazil, which had 730,000 HIV-positive people, although the overall prevalence rate in Mexico (0.3 percent) is among the lowest in the region, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The number of new HIV/AIDS cases reported in 2007 was 7,681, and after government efforts to overcome under-registration, 12,437 new cases were notified in 2008. This year 871 new cases have been reported so far, according to the National Centre for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (CENSIDA).
The estimated total number of deaths from the virus up to and including 2007 is 5,151, according to CENSIDA, although the UNAIDS estimate puts it at 11,000. The CCM, formed in July 2006 to coordinate the application to the Global Fund, is made up of 10 government agency representatives and nine from civil society organisations. It drew up the proposal between October 2008 and April 2009. The Global Fund, based in Geneva, Switzerland, "is governed by an international Board that consists of representatives from donor and recipient governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector (including businesses and philanthropic foundations) and affected communities," its web site says.
In its eighth round of funding proposals in 2008 it awarded nearly three billion dollars to support initiatives in 140 countries to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Of these funds, 158 million dollars were allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean. If the Global Fund approves the ninth round Mexican proposal at its next meeting in November, the first instalment, 13 million dollars, would be disbursed in 2010.
The goal of the Mexican proposal is to increase the coverage of prevention programmes for MSM and of harm reduction and health services for IDU men and women, as well as improving the quality and quantity of services provided without stigma or discrimination for these key populations and people living with HIV by community groups and public services. It also aims at improving the technical, managerial and administrative capabilities of state health services and NGOs, especially in the area of prevention.
"Detection of HIV is still too low, and prevention strategies aimed at the most affected groups are rather limited. Mexico’s epidemic is classified as concentrated, with high HIV prevalence in key groups," the document says. The planned programme will be carried out in the 44 cities with the highest rates of HIV prevalence in MSM and IDU populations, which are estimated nationally at 645,000 people and 53,000 people, respectively. Within the 44 locations chosen there are an estimated 476,000 men who have sex with men.
The 44 selected cities include 72 percent of the AIDS cases among MSM reported between 2003 and 2008. "This wide coverage of cities represents a unique opportunity for key populations of both sexes to receive services, support and access. Services will be offered at places where they socialise and at health centres, as a combined effort by the government and NGOs," says the proposal. After five years, the expected outcome of the programme is a reduction of HIV prevalence in MSM from 10 percent to eight percent in the 44 selected cities, and among IDU from six percent to five percent.
The Global Fund applies stricter criteria for the eligibility of proposals from upper-middle income countries, like Mexico, than for lower-middle or low income countries, including the stipulation that the activities proposed must target identified vulnerable groups with an HIV prevalence of at least five percent. In Luna’s view, Mexico’s application is being made at a time when the Global Fund’s disposable resources are diminished because of the global economic crisis, and will have to wait in line behind poorer countries which have higher priority.
"Mexico should have applied in the eighth round. Now it’s at a disadvantage compared with other countries competing for a grant," the activist said. The CCM did not have the budget for its proposal ready in time for the eighth round deadline, in July 2008, and therefore was unable to apply last year. In a consensus decision, the CCM nominated the non-governmental Consorcio de Investigación sobre VIH/Sida y Tuberculosis (CISIDAT, Consortium for Research on HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis) to be the "Principal Receptor" responsible for administering the funds.
CISIDAT is composed of clinical, biomedical, epidemiological, psychological, economics and public health researchers and experts from 11 health institutions. Other applicants interested in assuming the duties of the Principal Receptor were the state National Institute of Public Health and the private Mexican Family Planning Foundation (MEXFAM), Mexican Health Foundation (FUNSALUD), Rostros y Voces (Faces and Voices, a member of Oxfam International) and the Carso Health Institute, financed by Carlos Slim, the richest man in Latin America.
Forestalling the epidemic and treating HIV-positive people is an expensive undertaking. The proposal sent to the Global Fund estimates total financial needs at some 100 million dollars in 2010, and 180 million dollars in 2013. In 2008 the government spent 360 million dollars on preventing and fighting HIV/AIDS, but this year the budget is half that, 180 million dollars. "Unless the focus is on prevention, treatment will be more costly," said Gil.
NGOs working on HIV/AIDS have been invited by CENSIDA to a Jul. 17-20 convention in Mexico City, where government and civil society representatives will design the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy. And the 11th National Congress on HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections will be held in the southern state of Chiapas in late November.
December 22, 2009 – PinkNews
Mexico City becomes first Latin American capital to legalise gay marriage
by Adam Lake
Mexico City has become the first capital city to legalise gay marriage in South America. Same sex couples have been allowed to enter civil partnerships since 2006 but the new legislation will give gay couples equal rights when it comes to family social security benefits and loans. The new bill will also give same sex couples the right to adopt.
David Razu, a legislator from the left-wing Social Democratic Party, told Reuters: "We are putting an end to segregation and stigmatisation of a sector of society, giving access to full marriage rights." Mexico has traditionally been a conservative Catholic country but Mexico City has developed a popular and vibrant gay scene in recent years.
Argentina became the first Latin American country to allow civil unions across the country for same-sex couples in 2002. Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay have all offered same sex couples the opportunity of civil partnerships but this is the first time that full marriage has been legislated in Latin America. Earlier this month a gay Buenos Aires couple who hoped to become the first to fully marry in Argentina said that the city mayor should be fined for not authorising their wedding.
Jose Maria Di Bello and partner Alex Freyre planned to marry on World AIDS Day after Judge Gabriela Seijas ruled last month that the ban on gay marriage violated Argentina’s constitution. Mexico’s Catholic archdiocese has stated that legalising gay marriage is immoral and will destroy families.
"Recognising homosexual civil unions as marriage goes against the public good and the emotional development of our children," said Giovanni Gutierrez, a city lawmaker from President Felipe Calderón’s National Action Party. The decision to allow full marriage for gay couples prompted jubilation in the streets from Mexico City’s LGBT community and gay rights groups.
February 7, 2010 – The New York Times
Gay Marriage Puts Mexico City at Center of Debate
by Elisabeth Malkin
Mexico City – Angela Alfarache and Ivonne Cervantes met at a party 16 years ago and have been a couple ever since, filling their lives with books and writing and friends. After their daughter, Constanza, was born six years ago, they became a family. Mexican law never saw it that way. Only Constanza’s biological mother — the pair will not say which one gave birth to her because, as they explain, they are both her mothers — is her legal parent. The law does not recognize the other mother.
In a few weeks, that will change. A new Mexico City law goes into effect March 4 that will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, propelling the city to the forefront of the global gay rights movement. “We want society to change its chip that says there is only one kind of family,” said Ms. Alfarache.
But fierce opposition erupted almost as soon as the law was passed on Dec. 22. In his final homily of the year in Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera said, “Today the family is under attack in its essence by the equivalence of homosexual unions with marriage between a man and a woman.” Roman Catholic groups asked the conservative federal government to intervene.
President Felipe Calderón said the Constitution defined marriage as between a man and a woman, although legal experts disagree. His attorney general filed a challenge before the Supreme Court, arguing that the law violates a constitutional clause protecting the family. Under its left-wing mayor and city assembly, Mexico City has stretched the nation’s limits in acknowledging just how much the conceptions and realities of family have changed here. The city legalized abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, untangled its cumbersome divorce laws and recognized civil unions.
But while many families have been fractured by migration, teenage pregnancy, divorce and abandonment, most Mexicans still cherish the ideal of a nuclear family. “The same word cannot have two different meanings,” said Mariana Gómez del Campo, the Mexico City leader of the president’s National Action Party, or PAN. “It will weaken the legal definition of marriage.” More important, she said, is protecting children’s rights. “One of their rights is to have a family,” she said. “A child does not get to decide what kind of family it is.”
In an unscientific poll taken and cited by the party, just over half of the respondents disapproved of gay marriage and about three-quarters opposed adoption by same-sex couples. But even if that accurately represents Mexican sentiments, the law’s backers in the city assembly as well as among gay men and lesbians argue that their vote was aimed at expanding rights, a decision that cannot be based on opinion polls or referendums.
“Politically, the federal government is declaring that the Constitution only protects heterosexual families,” said David Razú, the city legislator who proposed the new law. “It’s a government that discriminates against its own citizens.” The federal government says that Mexico City’s 2007 civil unions law gives same-sex couples the rights they have been seeking. But in practice — when it comes to including a partner in public health insurance plans, applying for state bank loans or recognizing a parent — the law has not worked, said Judith Vázquez, a gay rights activist.
In positioning himself as a defiant social liberal, Mexico City’s mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, is taking a political gamble. He wants to run for president in 2012, and his views may find little resonance outside the capital, where the Roman Catholic Church holds much greater sway. “We are looking at the recognition of rights and liberties, and in this there is a big difference between conservatives and those of us with a liberal or different or advanced ideas of rights,” Mr. Ebrard told reporters in response to the federal government’s court challenge in January.
The city will not wait for the Supreme Court ruling, which could take as long as a year, Mr. Ebrard added. Once they marry, same-sex spouses will be able to adopt openly as a couple in Mexico City. The city’s decisions — along with the election of two national presidents from the conservative PAN since 2000 — have emboldened the Catholic Church to speak out and even lobby politically in the past few years. Mexico has a long history of anticlericalism, going back to laws in the mid-19th century. Even after Mexico restored full rights to religious groups in 1992, the Catholic Church was at first careful not to be seen as involving itself directly in politics.
Elsewhere in Latin America there have been steps toward approving gay marriage. In Argentina, the debate over gay marriage is making its way through the courts, although the southernmost province, Tierra del Fuego, welcomed Latin America’s first gay wedding there on Dec. 29. Uruguay allows civil unions and is moving toward allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia all recognize some form of civil unions.
For the gay rights movement, Mexico City’s law was the result of 30 years of activism. Ms. Cervantes, 44, a fiction writer, and Ms. Alfarache, 50, an anthropologist who works on women’s rights issues, have been able to raise their daughter in the open-minded environment of the capital’s university-educated minority. Working-class couples or those outside the city face many more barriers, they say. Several members of Ms. Cervantes’s family are conservative Catholics who are struggling to reconcile their faith with their uncomfortable acceptance of her family. “Once you know what scares you, it begins to break down what you believe in,” Ms. Cervantes said.
Even in their liberal enclave, the couple contend that they and their daughter should be assured of their rights. “Our families, our doctors, the teachers — they all know that there are two mothers,” said Ms. Alfarache, nodding at Constanza. “But you can’t leave rights to people’s good will. We want the whole package, the rights — and the responsibilities.”
February 19, 2010 – On Top Magazine
Mexico’s Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage Law
by Carlos Santoscoy
Mexico’s Supreme Court on Friday rejected three out of five challenges to Mexico City’s gay marriage law, El Universal reported. The court said the challenges brought by the governors of three states controlled by the conservative PAN Party were “clearly inappropriate.” The decision, written by Minister Sergio Valls, said the states did not have the legal authority to challenge the laws of another state or the nation’s federal district of Mexico City.
The court’s ruling applies to lawsuits submitted by the states of Morelos, Guanajuato and Tlaxcala. The law – approved in December and expected to take effect on March 4 – is a first for Latin America. It gives gay and lesbian couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage, including the right to adopt children. Previously, the city government recognized gay couples with civil unions, but gay adoption was banned.
The governors had argued that the law was unconstitutional and will force their state governments to recognize the marriages of gay couples. “These reforms could obligate the states and municipalities to recognize marriages between same-sex couples and so, in Jalisco, the same rights recognized for matrimony in its laws would be awarded to them,” Jalisco Secretary General of Government Fernando Guzman said in a statement.
Guzman also said the law would hurt children. “What we are protecting is marriage and children, so that children who are adopted have the right to a family, and a family consisting of a father and a mother,” he told the Guadalajara-based newspaper Publico. The court has yet to review challenges by two additional states – Sonora and Jalisco – and another by the federal government of President Felipe Calderon, who is also a member of the PAN.
The Roman Catholic Church has widely criticized the law. Mexico’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Noberto Rivera Carrera, has called the law “immoral” and “reprehensible.” Mexico City is the nation’s seat of government and also its largest city. Nearly 10% of Mexicans call the city home. A recent poll found a majority (46%) of residents approve of the law, 43% oppose it, and 11% are undecided.
March 12, 2010 – PinkNews
First gay marriages for Mexico City
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The first gay couples to marry in Mexico City held their ceremonies yesterday. A lesbian couple were the first to tie the knot. Judith Vazquez and Lol Kin Castaneda wore matching white gowns for their ceremony at city hall, attended by Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard. Three other couples married after them, while another couple who were due to wed unfortunately missed their flight.
Ms Vazquez, a 45-year-old small-business owner, and Ms Castaneda, a 33-year-old psychologist, told their friends and families that the ink on their thumbs from signing the wedding documents was the "mark of freedom", Press Association reports. The city has resisted pressure from religious leaders and conservative politicians to scrap the law.
Although a male gay couple were married in Argentina in January, Mexico City is the first place in Latin America to pass a law explicitly recognising gay marriage. It was passed in December of last year and gives gay and lesbian couples the same rights to marry, adopt children, secure loans, benefit from their partner’s insurance policies and inherit without paying tax. Although the law only applies to residents of Mexico City, they are recognised in the rest of the country’s 31 states
May 13, 2010 – AP
Killings of gays increase in Mexico, report says
Mexico City(AP) — Killings of gays and lesbians have risen in Mexico despite a government tolerance campaign and a law legalizing same-sex marriage in the capital, according to a report released Thursday by a coalition of civic groups. A review of more than 70 newspapers in 11 Mexican states found an average of nearly 30 killings a year motivated by homophobia between 1995 and 2000, compared to nearly 60 a year between 2001 and 2009, the report said.
Ricardo Bucio, president of the government’s National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination, backed the report, saying it gave visibility to a lingering problem. The government launched a radio campaign in 2005 to promote tolerance of homosexuals. In December, the Mexico City legislature approved the first law in Latin America explicitly giving gay marriages the same status as heterosexual ones. The legislation, affecting only the capital, also allows same-sex couples to adopt children.
Mexico City’s annual gay pride parade draws tens of thousands of people, and in some neighborhoods gays openly hold hands. But violence against gays seems to have increased as more become public about their sexual orientation, said Alejandro Brito, director of Letter S, one of the groups that released the report. Mexico City had the most homophobia-motivated killings, with 144 between 1995 and 2009, according to the report. Despite the federal government’s push to promote tolerance, President Felipe Calderon‘s conservative administration campaigned against the Mexico City law allowing same-sex marriage.
July 7, 2010 – AP
Mexico City sees 271 gay weddings in 4 months
Mexico City(AP) — Mexico City has seen 271 gay and lesbian couples get married since the capital enacted the first law in Latin America explicitly allowing same-sex marriages. The city government says there have been 142 marriages between men and 129 between women in the four months since the law went took effect March 4.
The government said Tuesday that 18 foreigners were among those married, and the rest were Mexican citizens. The largest number of marriages occurred in the first month after the law took effect. Mexico’s Supreme Court is considering challenges to the law, which applies only to the capital, but the measure will remain in effect while the review is under way. A decision is expected sometime around August.
August 10, 2010 – The New York Times
Mexican States Ordered to Honor Gay Marriages
by David Agren
Mexico City — The Mexican Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that each of the country’s 31 states must recognize same-sex marriages registered in Mexico City, potentially giving gay and lesbian couples full matrimonial rights nationwide. The court had already ruled this month that Mexico City’s same-sex marriage law, which took effect in March and has resulted in hundreds of same-sex marriages, was constitutional. But on Tuesday, the court went a step further, ruling 9 to 2 against a complaint from the attorney general’s office, which had said that other jurisdictions should not be required to honor marriages that were performed in Mexico City.
While the court made it clear that state governments were not obligated to enact same-sex marriage laws of their own, it did require them to recognize the legality of such marriages performed in Mexico City. “What’s going to happen to a same-sex couple” who marry in Mexico City “when they cross the border” to another state, asked Justice Arturo Zaldívar, who voted with the majority, during Tuesday’s discussions. “Does this marriage disappear? They go on vacation and they’re no longer married?”
The possibility of having to recognize same-sex marriages from Mexico City had provoked outrage from state governments belonging to the right-leaning National Action Party, which governs nationally, and drew accusations that the left-leaning Mexico City government was establishing civil-registry regulations for the rest of the country. The court decision leaves uncertainty about which marital rights must be recognized by state governments.
But Arturo Pueblita Fernández, a constitutional law professor at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, said that fundamental spousal rights would apply to same-sex couples across the country, including alimony payments, inheritance rights and the coverage of spouses by the federal social security system, which provides health and pension benefits to most of Mexico’s working population.
The court must still decide whether another part of the law, which allows same-sex couples married in Mexico City to adopt children, is constitutional. If it is, it is unclear whether such adoptions would have to be recognized throughout the country as one of the rights of same-sex couples. The adoption issue could be decided as early as Thursday. Opponents of same-sex marriage, including the leader of Mexico City’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, have voiced their displeasure with the law. In a message read after his Sunday homily, Cardinal Rivera called the court decision to uphold the law “aberrant.”
August 22, 2010 – AP
Mexican Catholics, gay rights protesters face off
Guadalajara, Mexico(AP) — Gay rights activists and a group of Roman Catholics in Mexico have yelled insults at each other during dueling demonstrations over same-sex marriage. Some 200 gay rights activists waved rainbow flags and held signs reading "Thank God I’m gay" at a plaza next to the cathedral in Guadalajara on Sunday. A similar number of protesters opposed to gay marriage prayed at the cathedral’s doors. One of them ripped up a sign held by a gay rights activist, prompting screaming by both sides.
It was the second confrontation in two days in Guadalajara, where Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez stirred controversy by suggesting Mexico’s Supreme Court was bribed to uphold a Mexico City law allowing adoptions by homosexual couples.
September 7, 2010 – The Times of India
400 gay marriages registered in Mexico
Mexico City – About 400 same-sex couples have wed in Mexico, six months after the law permitting gay marriage came into effect, authorities said on Monday. A total of 398 marriages have been registered, of which 53 percent were between men and 47 percent between women, the government of the Mexican capital said on Monday.
In these six months, 41 foreigners have joined the Mexicans – mostly Europeans, followed by South Americans, and citizens of other North American countries. Most of those who got married are between 30 and 40 years of age. There have been four weddings for couples between the age group of 71 and 90.
The Supreme Court has ruled that it is possible for same-sex married couples to adopt children. The law has been slammed by the church, which has harshly condemned both same-sex marriages and the possibility that they adopt children.
6 November 2010 – LGBT Asylum News
Mexican LGBT activist flees to US, seeking asylum
Source: El Universal – [Google translation]
In the absence of precautionary measures of the Mexican State to guarantee their life, recommended by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in April, the director of the Multiple Assistance Center (MAC) 33 and 34 of Chiconautla, Agustín Estrada Negrete fled the country and sought political asylum abroad.
The professor, who claims to suffer persecution by state authorities of Mexico and some people in the community of Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, which houses the schools for children with disabilities, only publicly declared homosexual, was violated September 15 by a group of strangers in a house where he hid.
Estrada said Negrete increased death threats against him, his mother and sister after he denounced discrimination only the local government embarked on their sexual preference. For lack of official support, the mentor left Mexico a few days ago to protect his life because he suffered two bouts of violence in recent weeks.
The most recent was on 15 September when he was attacked and raped by a group of men in a house where he was hiding and left for dead, then tied him up with duck tape and covered with a plastic bag over his head. "We told you you were quiet and did not understand, you fucking fag," said one of the strangers who subject. "Tart’re dead," shouted another man, who put masking tape on the mouth. Among several put him in his room, pinned her hands and two of them raped her.
Aug. 31, was attacked near the building where he took refuge. A man attacked him with a stabbing weapon. On 16 and 17 August received death threats as well as his mother and sister. The Commission asked the Mexican government in April granted precautionary measures will Negrete Estrada and his family because their lives were in danger of death threats received only by their sexual orientation, but the request was not met.
The conflict began on May 7, 2007 when Agustin Estrada participated in a parade dressed as a woman during the day of International Day Against Homophobia in Ecatepec. The education authorities of the state of Mexico was forced to take leave from his job for a year because "it was a bad example for children."
Since then he has been harassed and discriminated against by government officials and a sector of the population. Now, he is alone, out of Mexico in the hope that the authorities of the country where they decided to live, give him political asylum. "In health, the violation goes wrong, it makes me walk, I walk very slow, sometimes I still bleeding," narrated from exile. Agustín Estrada left everything in Mexico, your family, your work and your life. "Sometimes I have no lunch," he said. He lives in the basement of a house and soon will go to a home for refugees.
Negrete Estrada, who is the first member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) of Mexico, which is considered by the Commission to grant interim relief, fears that the state government of Mexico requested his extradition if the whole What country is because he faces criminal proceedings after the May 2009 protest against the Government Palace in Toluca. That day he was arrested and sent to the Almoloya prison where he was raped in a gang.