Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mexico: Thousands Participate in Saltillo Anti-Gay March

In September, the Mexican state of Coahuila legalized same-sex marriage and adoption, to the chagrin of conservative groups and the Catholic Church, reports BBC News. Mexican anti-LGBTQ activist responded by organizing a march against same-sex marriage. On September 28th, thousands of anti-LGBTQ demonstrators marched through the streets of Coahuila's capital city, Saltillo, in a demonstration organized by Cristo Vive.

According to its website, Cristo Vive is a ministry focused on rehabilitation of people who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse, especially young persons and low-income persons. Cristo Vive seeks to instill "the moral and spiritual values of love and respect for parents, spouse, children, authority, love of country, neighbor, and especially love of God" (los valores morales y espirituales como amor y respeto a los padres, esposa, hijos, autoridades, amor a la patria, al prójimo y sobre todo el amor a Dios). The ministry was founded by Carlos Pacheco, who lead the September 28th march.

Zócalo Santillo reports that Carlos Pacheco, with bodyguards in tow, lead thousands of marchers through the streets of Saltillo. The slogan of the march was "Viva Mexico, Viva La Familia". Marchers held signs celebrating heterosexual marriage and distributed leaflets claiming that gays and lesbians can change "through a personal encounter with God". Alongside floats, some marchers dressed as brides and grooms, reports Vanguardia. According to El Universal, marchers chanted, "Rescuing the family today; values are not lost; no one will change what God created; unite with one voice; struggle for a better Mexico ... Love is truly found in a mom and dad" (Rescatemos la familia desde hoy, que no se pierdan los valores, que nadie cambie lo que dios creo, unete a nosotros a una voz, luchemos por un Mexico mejor ... Amor de verdad se encuentra en papa y mama). The chant lyrics have been posted at the Cristo Vive website.

Head-counts for the march vary. Vanguardia reports anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 participants, while El Universal estimates that 30,000 people took part in the march.

The language surrounding the march should sound familiar to observers of the American Religious Right. According to Vanguardia, Pastor Carlos Pacheco argued that he and his supporters were protecting the correct model of family, and by extension, society.
"Creemos en modelo establecido socialmente aprobado y correcto que compone la sociedad, la familia normal y sana son matrimonios sanos civilmente aprobados en las escrituras, es un hombre y mujer que procrean hijos, si nosotros atacamos directamente a la familia estamos atacando a la sociedad."

"We believe in a socially approved and correct model [of marriage] as a component of society. Normal and healthy families are [based on] healthy marriages civilly approved in Scripture. It is a man and woman who procreate children. If we directly attack the family, we are attacking society."
Some observers were deeply troubled by the march. According to Zócalo Santillo, La Comunidad San Aelredo condemned the march and the homophobic attitudes of Cristo Vive. Noah Ruiz Malacara, a representative of San Aelredo, insisted that "acts of this kind should be punished for inciting homophobia" ("Actos de este tipo deberían ser castigados por incitar a la homofobia"). El Siglo reports that San Aelredo has since filed a complaint with the Department for Equality and Prevention of Discrimination, which states that Pastor Carlos Pacheco used discriminatory language.

One commentator at Zócalo Santillo, nicknamed "Catedral", was pained by the intolerant attitudes of the marchers.
"... la verdad es que me duele ver que algunos movimientos religiosos y otros grupos no se caracterizan precisamente por promover el amor, la fraternidad y la comprensión. Por el contrario, exhiben el feo pecado de la intolerancia, sin aceptar opiniones y conductas diferentes a las suyas."

"...the truth is that it hurts me to see that some religious movements and other groups are not characterized by love, brotherhood and understanding. Rather, they exhibit the ugly sin of intolerance, unwilling to accept opinions and behaviors that are different from theirs."
As LGBTQ equality advances around the world, the global Religious Right continues to promote homophobia. The Saltillo march was the latest example of outrage from anti-LGBTQ figures, reminding us that the Religious Right is an international force.

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