05/21/14 (written by brianfo) — On May 17, 2014, Mexico celebrated its first official International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, as recognized by the Federal Government and President Enrique Peña Nieto. The international event has been an annual day of observance by the United Nations since 2004, serving as a celebratory mark for when homosexuality was no longer classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a mental illness in 1990.
As part of the celebration, the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF) colored various pedestrian crosswalks throughout the city with rainbow themes—the icon used by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. The city also raised rainbow flags and signs highlighting the visibility of LGBT people. A bicycle campaign, “Un paso adelante”, also featured around 300 participants riding throughout the DF neighborhood of Miguel Hidalgo promoting LGBT visibility. That same day, the first festival to combat homophobia took place where many musicians, activists, and LGBT groups gathered in unity.
The recognition for LGBT human rights protections in Mexico is a welcomed step forward as the country’s protection for such rights has long suffered. Mexico’s Citizen’s Commission against Hate Crimes from Homophobia (Comisión Ciudadana Contra Crímenes de Odio por Homofobia, CCCCOH) through the Colectivo Letra S organization recently released a report claiming that 887 homicides of LGBT people due to homophobia or transphobia occurred in Mexico from 1995 through 2013, which is equal to roughly 50 such murders of LGBT per year. As reported in El Informante, of the 16 states where the crimes occurred, the Federal District had the highest total with 168 cases followed by the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex) with 92, Nuevo León (58), Michoacán (58), Jalisco (56), Yucatán (52), Veracruz (45), Chihuahua (36), Puebla (36), Tabasco (33), Guerrero (31), Baja California (26), Quintana Roo (26), Chiapas (24), Colima (23), and Tamaulipas (20). Comparatively speaking, Mexico’s 887 registered murders of LGBT persons ranks it second highest in the world, only behind Brazil, according to the Oikos Comprehensive Institute (Instituto Oikos Centro Integral).
Nevertheless, Mexico’s move to formally celebrate the International Day against Homophobia highlights the country’s battle against LGBT-related hate crimes, and Mexico’s commitment to better protect the LGBT community. It also delineates Mexico’s status in the global community with respect to how it handles discrimination against LGBT persons. As such, the Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación, Segob) has announced that Mexico will continue to commemorate May 17 as the National Day Against Homophobia.