Diversity in the face of adversity

Myrtille Danse, March 23, 2018

Over these last couple of months, Latin America has been vibrating and changing: we’ve gone from celebration to mourning, from anger to relief in a matter of days. Just one month ago, we awoke to the news of a murder attempt against our friend David Valle, LGBTI community leader in Honduras and member of Somos CDC, a partner organization of Hivos. Lately, we’ve been awakened every day to news of the ever shrinking space for freedom of expression and the very serious Human Right violations in Venezuela.

In Mexico, 10 civil society organizations –some of which are our partners– walked out of an Open Government platform they belonged to because they found evidence of government espionage, with journalists and human right defenders among the most affected. The list goes on.

With all their strength

Yet it is inspiring to see how our region is also becoming more diverse and firmly united against adversity every day. Last year, a Gender Identity Law in Bolivia was approved, and today our Ahead With Sexual Rights platform partners, along with the entire LGBTI Andean movement, work together to make sure that the country keeps on triumphing. And in Peru, LGBTI people are assuming more and more important political positions.

Unfortunately, the steps forward can’t erase the waves of violence against diversity in Honduras, México and Colombia, nor can they erase the recently approved law that penalizes same sex marriage in Haiti. The steps forward can’t erase the closing of spaces for LGBTI people -especially the Trans community- in powerful countries outside this region and with great influence on it.

Right now we celebrate the LGBTI pride week in the Netherlands. I travel mentally to Amsterdam’s canals, illuminated by the summer sunshine and adorned by all the colors of diversity. I think about this festivity that celebrates the pride of belonging to a freedom-promoting society and I realize that, looking at the work we do along with our partners, I don’t feel so far away from there.

There’s something that is clear to me after living here all these years: diversity runs in Latin American blood. “Normal” is the difference here. All we need to do is taste the languages, listen to the colors and embrace the flavors of this rich, original and changing region in order to understand it. Latin America’s LGBTI community and human rights defenders are far from backing away because they strive with each other and with those open to change, because they are working with people who know how to love with all their strength.

Read this blog post in Spanish.

Photo: Darwin Andino