To be member of the oldest gay/lesbian organization in South America should bring a sense of pride and satisfaction, but what happens when this organization is located in Peru? Well, for me that has meant many (often contradicting) feelings and emotions. On the one hand, I am proud of being part of the movement, because we are talking about an organization that has been working for over 30 years and that hasremained strong despite the fact that it operates in a context where the civil society in which operate is weak and fragmented. However, I am also frustrated that after all these years the government still hasn’t made any progress in extending protection of rights of the LGBT community. Conversely, what has existed and it is institutionalized in the state culture, is the structural and systematic denial of rights to this particular community. This situation drives toquestion the strategies, actions and posture that the movement has had facing the State, but also leads to analyze the conception and the response that the State has had and has about this community and its recognition of rights.
At the beginning of its term, the current government promoted the “Great Transformation” and claimed it would implement a policy of “Inclusion for All”; however, it has been one of the most regressiveregimestowards the affirmation and recognition of LGBT rights, which hasled many to call it a homophobic government. It is a paradox, becausewhen the present president was campaigning, his national platform not only includedLGBT rights promotion, but its very design included participation frommembers of the LGBT movement. It is even more ironic that in October 2010, the present President of Peruwas an invited guest in Orozco salon of the New School, and specifically talked about three points which relate directly to the rights of the LGBT community: 1. – The need for a nationalist identity 2. – The importance and need for leaders willing to fight for human rights, and 3. – The state’s role as a provider of health, education and employment.
Three years into his mandate, and according to his previous speech, there aremore questions and inquiries than answers within the LGBT movement in Peru:
1. –Does this nationalist project include the LGBT community? What is the meaning of this national identity? In order to be a national task, shouldn’t this national identity (which remains an unaccomplished project) also consider all the other historically neglected groups in Peru: Afro-Peruvians, Indigenous people, LGBT community, women, and the poor, 2. –There exists in the Peru LGBT movement leaders that have been working for over 30 years, but the issue is not one of forming or recognizing new leaders of the LGBT movement, but rather formal access to rights 3. – What is the state doing to secure and distribute health, education and employment for all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity?
While many advances and achievements are taking place in the region in relation to the recognition of LGBT rights, Peru is among the most homophobic countries. In fact it holds 113thposition outof 138 countries evaluated the worst place in the Latin American region .The homophobic context in which the LGBT community operates has resulted in tangible consequences not only in everyday life, but also socially and politically, which in turn has resulted in difficulties winning inclusiveLGBT policies.
However, it should be noted there is not a total lack of public policy aimed at the LGBT community, but rather that there is a deliberate exclusion by the State. In Peru, as in most countries of the Andean region, the main strategy of inclusion of the LGBT community has been through public health policies, specifically for certain groups considered morevulnerable in light of the HIV epidemic (Jaime: 2013).
In thissense, the analysis of the relationship between the State of Peru and LGBT community is complex and raises some interesting questions:How can a State be inclusive in some health policies and not in other areas that compromise life and human development? And if we dig deeper, why is that Peru has failed toincorporateany regulatory framework to protect and promote human rights to LGBT community?
In the current context, a first hypothesis is that there is a structural relationship between the State and the LGBT community, resulting in the restriction of human rights through political barriers, which keeps the community in situations of marginalization, exclusion and poverty.
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+ What does it mean to be a President Néstor Kirchner Fellow?, by Roland Álvarez Chávez
+ Roland Álvarez Chavez, President Néstor Kirchner 2012-2013 Fellow, completed an intensive two-week stay at The New School
+ Learn more about the PNK Fellowship
Read more about the President Néstor Kirchner Fellowship Program