LGBTQ candidates fight for rights in Mexican election (Gallery)

Mexican election candidates are making history for the LGBTQ community with more than 100 competitors on the ballot.

FABIOLA SÁNCHEZ, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — For years, transgender activist Roshell Terranova protested in the streets and knocked on the doors of Mexico’s Congress to make the demands of the country’s LGBTQ community known. Now, thanks to her efforts and an electoral rule change, Terranova is running for Congress — a first for Mexico.

Terranova will be one of more than 100 members of Mexico’s LGBTQ community participating in Sunday’s midterm elections that will fill the 500 seats of the lower chamber of the Congress, as well as state and local posts across the country. This election will have the largest number of LGBTQ candidates in Mexico’s history, according to Carla Humphrey, an official with the National Electoral Institute.

The likelihood of success of the candidates for some of the more than 20,000 posts remains unknown, but activists, analysts and members of the LGBTQ community say the sheer number of candidates signals a departure from a history of hiding sexual identity to pursue a political career.

The surge in LGBTQ participation follows an order from electoral authorities for political parties to include those candidates on their slates as part of their “affirmative action” efforts, which seek “to generate and open spaces to vulnerable groups,” Humphrey said.

“They must be made visible and have a voice and be able to influence,” Humphrey said.

They must be made visible and have a voice and be able to influence.

— Carla Humphrey, National Electoral Institute

Electoral authorities plan to track their progress as they do with other groups that have faced discrimination and benefited from actions to promote their participation. Such groups include women, Indigenous groups, Afro-Mexicans, people with disabilities and Mexicans who live abroad, she said.

Patria Jiménez, another activist and candidate to become a local lawmaker, was in 1997 the first openly gay federal congresswoman. She said the high level of participation this year is the result of a “social evolution” that LGBTQ activists won by protesting in the streets.

Minority political parties such as Citizen Movement, Progressive Social Networks and the Democratic Revolution Party registered dozens of LGBTQ candidates, exceeding the quotas set by electoral authorities. The largest parties just met the requirements.

If she wins, Terranova said she will fight to bring same-sex marriage to the whole country. Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but some states still have not passed legislation allowing it. In those cases, couples have been able to go to court to be allowed to marry. Terranova also plans to push legal reforms to allow the civil registration of transgender youth and require medical attention “without discrimination.”

Ana Labambarri, an analyst at the Mexican Institute for Competition, expressed doubt about the influence winning LGBTQ candidates could have. Based on the institute’s study of women who have won seats in local legislative bodies, they still have not been able to access positions that allow them to make important decisions because of structural problems associated with a patriarchal system. She said LGBTQ lawmakers would likely face similar obstacles.

Fabiola Del Castillo was among the people recently celebrating the close of Terranova’s campaign. She said the candidacies of Terranova and others give her hope that the discrimination they face will stop. 

“I hope that it helps end the hate toward us and we can go out in the street or into a restaurant without facing discrimination,” she said.


(Visited 28 times, 1 visits today)