From Bolivia, with Pride

Blog by Consuelo Mora Benard, July 8, 2019

Three years ago, we celebrated the approval of the gender identity law in Bolivia with our “Adelante con la Diversidad” (Moving Ahead with Diversity) partners. For many, May 21, 2016 was a day of rebirth: the day their basic human rights were finally legalized.

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 as somebody else.

This is what Yohana Pérez, Pamela Valenzuela, Moira Andrade, Patrick Gantier and Mariana Irina had to go through their entire lives. But this year, many of them celebrated the new beginning of their lives under 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 forward

Last year, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued an advisory opinion ruling that same-sex marriage and self-recognized gender identity are human rights, mandatory for all signatory countries of the Inter-American Human Rights Convention. This includes most Latin American countries.

Even if very few countries have complied so far, we celebrate the LGBTI Pride season by acknowledging the small steps our region is 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 backward

Not all countries have made the same leap as Bolivia. 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 young people’s sexual rights. This initiative is also strong in Bolivia and Honduras.

Unfortunately, Trans rights are still a falling behind despite the urgent need for a gender identity law. In a region where life expectancy for a Trans person is just 35 (Inter-American Commission for Human Rights), only two Latin American countries besides Bolivia have adopted a gender identity law: Uruguay and Argentina.

Hivos strives for a world where everyone, independent of their sexual orientation and gender identity, has control over their own bodies, their sexual identities and their relationships.