Latin America keeps making progress on LGBTQ+ rights such as marriage equality in unlikely places and increasing—slow but steady—political representation to give voice to the LGBTQ+ cause on the political frontline.
As a way to honor LGBT Pride Month, which takes place every year in June in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, NYC, Global Americans compiled a list of five young Latin Americans that are leading the LGBTQ+ cause in the political frontline.
Jean Wyllys, the politician who won Big Brother, was elected to Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies for Rio de Janeiro in 2011-2014 and again in 2015-2018. He is also a journalist, university professor and writer advocating for LGBTQ+ movements, the black population and women. He works to promote actions that combat homophobia and religious fundamentalism, discrimination against the people who practice candomblé (an Afro-American religion), modern slavery, sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, and violence against women.
Jaime Parada Hoyl is councilman for Providencia, Santiago de Chile; an LGBT activist and the first openly gay elected official in Chile. In 2012, Jaime Parada, former spokesperson for the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), was elected as a councilman for the municipality of Providencia, one of Chile’s wealthiest and most conservative regions. In 2016 he was elected for a second term and in June 2017 was invited by presidential candidate Alejandro Guillier to be part of his campaign team. The young politician decided to run for office to provide visibility to the LGBTQ+ community, especially in a conservative region as Providencia. As he says, what you can’t see you can’t change.
Diane Marie Rodríguez Zambrano, is the first transsexual/transgender person to run for a seat in Ecuador’s Assembly, backed by the Alianza PAIS movement. Rodriguez is one of Ecuador’s most recognized human rights activists, standing for sexual diversity, people with chronic diseases (cancer and HIV), women, elder people and other vulnerable minorities. After funding several civil society organizations in favor of LGBTQ+ rights, in 2009 Rodríguez established a legal precedent in Ecuador suing the Civil Registry not allowing transsexuals to change their names from men to women. In 2012, Diane Rodríguez was the first openly transsexual to run for public office.
Alberto de Belaunde is a congressman for the Peruvian political movement Peruanos por el Kambio with experience in human rights and committed to the LGBTQ+ community. For Belaunde, one of the main problems to further improve the recognition of LGBTQ+ rights is the lack of information, thus, he proposes an official registry of violence against LGBTQ+. He also pushes to advance a gender identity law in Peru.
Rosmit Mantilla is an LGBTQ+ activist, founder of democratic movement Voluntad Popular, and a deputy for Venezuela’s National Assembly in Tachira’s fifth circuit. In May 2014 Mantilla was detained and accused of receiving money to fund antigovernment protests. He was released in November 2016. For Mantilla, the fight for inclusion is also a fight to recover a democratic system that guarantees equal human rights (as expressed in his 17 May 2017 tweet).
Other young leaders, past or contending political candidates, include Andres Scaglioga from Uruguay; Deivis Ventura from the Dominican Republic; Gian Franco Rosales from Argentina and Amaranta Gomez from Mexico. Amaranta, an indigenous muxhe, activist and social anthropologist is the current regional coordinator of the International Secretariat for Indigenous and Afro-descendant People on HIV/AIDS, Sexuality and Human Rights. All these young LGBTQ+ politicians lead the fight, continuing their important work in activism and opening more spaces for new and fresh voices to enact equal rights laws at the federal level.