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  EN LA VIDA

WORLD NEWS
by REX WOCKNER
2003-06-01

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MEXICO BANS DISCRIMINATION

Mexico's Congress banned discrimination based on 'sexual preferences' in mid-April, according to the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Article 4 of the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination also bans discrimination based on ethnic or national origin, sex, age, disability, social or economic status, health, pregnancy, language, religion, opinion and civil status.

It further bans discrimination based on an individual's decision to 'openly acknowledge one's sexual preference,' be that via 'dress, talk [or] mannerisms.'

The law applies in the areas of education, employment, medical care, social security benefits, public services, private institutions providing public services, reproductive rights, property rights, sports, cultural and recreation activities, civil and political organizations, media messages and images, and free movement.

It criminalizes exploitation, degredation and physical or psychological abuse against protected individuals and prohibits promoting or engaging in hatred, violence, rejection, ridicule, defamation, slander, persecution and exclusion toward protected groups.

In the case of violations by public officials, the newly created National Council to Prevent Discrimination will demand an explanation from the accused party, call a conciliation hearing, and suggest solutions. If a solution is not forthcoming, the council will punish proven violators.

In the case of violations by private entities or individuals, the council will suggest a concilation hearing and mediate between the parties.

ANTI-GAY RULING IN PUERTO RICO

Puerto Rico's Supreme Court ruled in mid-April that domestic-violence statutes do not apply to same-sex couples, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The court said the laws were designed to protect the family which it defined as the 'sentimental and legal union between a man and a woman.'

As a result of the ruling, charges were dropped against Leandro Ruiz Martínez for beating his boyfriend, Juan J. del Valle.

The decision led to demonstrations, pro and con, outside the Supreme Court, and Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodríguez urged the court to rethink its ruling.

THUGS TRASH TRANSGENDER CENTER

The headquarters of the Santiago, Chile, transgender group TravesChile were trashed by thugs April 12.

Thirty young men used sticks, stones and guns to practically destroy the facility. They also stole valuables and beat up transgender activists. The organization's vice president, Alejandra, remains hospitalized due to injuries suffered in the mêlée.

Police arrived half an hour after the attack began and have not made any arrests.

'We are very concerned about this episode because TravesChile has documented and denounced several instances of police abuse against transgender people and the organization's president, Silvia Parada, has said that police inaction might be in fact 'revenge,'' said the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

ARGENTINE CIVIL-UNION LAWS TAKE EFFECT

In a first for Latin America, civil-union laws came into force in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in the nation's Río Negro province on April 1.

Both laws extend marriage rights to unioned gay and straight couples in areas such as social security, contracts, mortgages, pensions, insurance, sick leave, bereavement leave, visitation rights and relocation expenses.

In order to register, couples must have been together for two years.

'We have taken a great step toward becoming a tolerant society based on the dignity of all people, without distinctions,' said Buenos Aires city councilor Héctor Costanzo.

Similar laws are under consideration in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Jujuy and Córdoba.

Río Negro is in south-central Argentina, south of La Pampa province and southwest of Buenos Aires. Its capital city is Viedma. The province is known for growing apples and pears, and for exporting fruit juice and cider.


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