From Bolivia, with Pride

July 2, 2019

By Consuelo Mora Benard

Three years ago, we celebrated with our Ahead with sexual rights partners the approval of the gender identity law in Bolivia. For many, May 22 2016 was a day of rebirth: it was the day that their basic human rights were finally attained.

Imagine trying to earn a living, participate in activism, vote, recognize yourself and be recognized by others, without legal documentation. Imagine trying to live your life for somebody else.

This is what Yohana Pérez, Pamela Valenzuela, Moira Andrade, Patrick Gantier and Mariana Irina had to go through their entire lives. This year, many of them celebrated the beginning of their lives with their self-recognized legal identity.

Want to know more about these activists? Watch the full version of this short documentary made by our HIV Bolivia colleagues.

Steps forwards

Last year, an Inter American Court of Human Rights’ advisory opinion ruled same-sex marriage and a self-recognized gender identity as human rights, mandatory for all signing countries of the InterAmerican Human Rights Convention. This included most Latin American countries.

Even if very few countries complied, we celebrate the LGBTI Pride by acknowledging the small steps we are taking towards an open, diverse and colorful Latin America. Ecuador just approved same-sex marriage a few weeks ago, joining Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and Mexico.

Steps back

Not all countries have taken the leaps that Bolivia has. Many Latin American countries have laws that criminalize same-sex marriage. This includes a part of the Caribbean, where our Right Here Right Now partners work to advocate for the youth’s sexual rights. This initiative is also strong in Bolivia and Honduras.

Unfortunately, Trans rights are still a falling behind in spite of the urgency for a gender identity law approval. In a region where life expectancy for a Trans person is 35 years old (Inter-American Commission for Human Rights), only 2 Latin American countries besides Bolivia have a gender identity law: Uruguay and Argentina.