Homophobia strikes Hivos’ photography exhibit in Bolivia

April 10, 2013

Homophobia in South America is manifested on a daily basis through various forms of exclusion, invisibility and rejection of sexual orientation and gender identity. On April 4, the city of Sucre, the capital of Bolivia, was the scene of an irrational act against sexual and gender diversity. Officials of the municipality of Sucre removed the 20 pictures of the Sexual and Gender Diversities exhibit that had been installed the day before in downtown Sucre.

This travelling exhibit is the fruit of a call made to photographers and writers by the Hivos regional office in South America, based in La Paz Bolivia, to celebrate the freedom of men and women to live according to the sexual orientation and gender identity of their choice. Their efforts resulted in the Hivos “2013 Calendar of Sexual and Gender Diversity” (Calendario 2013 de las Diversidades Sexuales y de Género) and the photography exhibit “Sexual and Gender Diversities” (Exposición Fotográfica de las Diversidades Sexuales y de Género), also supported by Hivos.

The aim of this project is to disseminate Hivos’ values regarding the defense of individual rights through images and words. Nearly thirty visual artists responded to the call, from whose submissions thirteen photographs were chosen to illustrate the calendar. In addition, seven other images were selected to be part of the travelling exhibit, “Sexual and Gender Diversities”, which officially launched the calendar in December 2012. 20 billboards more than two meters high were installed in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

On April 4 2013, the exhibit was installed on Las Américas avenue in Sucre thanks to the work of our partner, Centro Juana Azurduy. The next day, officials of the municipality removed all the 20 billboards claiming they had received complaints from neighbors about some of the pictures. On April 5, the municipality argued that there were new procedures – which had not been followed.

This arbitrary action demonstrates a patent lack of pluralism, diversity,  tolerance and respect towards people and movements that fight for their rights to sexual and gender identity.

Hivos will continue supporting actions to promote LGBT rights and the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity. Hivos is one of the most active donors in the fight for LGBT rights in developing countries like Bolivia.

The calendar and the photography exhibit are an initiative of the Hivos ‘Rights & Citizenship’ programme that invests in civil society initiatives for democratic change, LGBT rights, women’s rights and HIV/AIDS. The photographers’ images pinpoint values in defense of individual rights, accompanied by some 20 texts that celebrate sexual pluralism.