When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LGBTQ Plus

LGBT Progress In Colombia? One Step Forward, Two Bigots Back

Businesses in Colombia have been invited to display gay-friendly signs as a traditionalist society, slowly, grows more tolerant.

Gay Pride Day in Bogota last year
Gay Pride Day in Bogota last year
Daniel Garzón Herazo/Pacific Press via ZUMA
Aldo Cívico

-Op-Ed-

BOGOTÁ — Very soon in Colombia, LGBT-friendly cafés, restaurants and shops will begin displaying rainbow-colored signs in their entrance, in an important step toward turning this country more tolerant and modern.

The idea of inviting businesses to declare their support for a more open society came from the YouTuber Juan Pablo Jaramillo, who launched the initiative with his ex-boyfriend Christian Castiblanco across social media. The campaign attracted millions of viewers online and caught the attention of the Interior Ministry, which said it would sign a decree promoting tolerance and inclusion. The initiative is much-needed in a country where homophobia remains pervasive.

I witnessed this personally a few days ago. I was in Medellín in the Oviedo shopping center, when I saw two young women walking hand-in-hand. I thought, how nice that gradually, everyone will be able to show their affection for their partner without having to hide, regardless of sexual orientation. History shows that societies progress as civil rights expand.

But my optimism suddenly deflated when I saw a female security guard and her colleague laughing at the couple. I didn't really feel sorry for the couple who clearly now had the strength and freedom to live their love openly, regardless of the intolerance and ignorance around them. I was sad for the guard and the narrow-mindedness that governs her life and perpetuates her ignorance, prejudice and exclusion of anyone who may seem different to her.

Homophobia is not just a feeling, but a power structure.

Homophobia doesn't just insult and discriminate, it can also kill. Recall 16-year-old Sergio Urrego, who committed suicide in Bogotá in 2014, after facing months of harassment from senior staff members at his school. The principal of his school, the Gimnasio Castillo Campestre, has kept her job even after facing prosecution on charges of hiding incriminating evidence, false denunciation and discrimination. What this bitter incident has shown is that homophobia is not just a feeling, but a power structure that marginalizes and discriminates.

That is why, when I saw the security guard mock a simple, tender gesture of affection between two women, I realized the importance and power of Jaramillo's proposal, simple as it may be. Because making LGBT-friendly places visible with a sign, as is done in many cities worldwide, will help make homosexuality start to seem as natural and absolutely human as it is. At the end of the day, gay people are no children of a lesser god, but created in His image like everyone else.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest