The fight for lesbian rights in Colombia
The ‘weaker’ sex stands strong in its diversity
Diana is 19 years old and since a very young age has learned to love her body, her soul and her gender. She felt the need to share the pride of being a woman, but was understandably scared.
She knew that her loved ones and many of her friends would find difficulty in understanding her sexual orientation, but she remained courageous and firmly declared: “I am your daughter and sister. I am a woman and I am lesbian.”
That day divided Diana’s life. On one side, she relieved the heavy weight from upon her shoulders. She felt honest and at peace with herself. On the other side, her parents’ refusal to accept her homosexuality resulted in her packing her belongings and leaving home.
But Diana is not alone. She found a group of women willing to build a better future for lesbians who had suffered abuse and whose rights have been corrupted. Mujer-es Diversidad, which means Women’s Diversity, has been operating since 2005 in Cali for awareness, real access and guarantees of rights for lesbian women, transsexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals.
The organization wants to create a more open and respectful society by spreading new social, political and cultural realities. ‘October Lesbian Month’, for example, brings people together to reflect on the meaning of being a woman. The urgency rises as the National Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine reveals abuse against the Colombian LGBT community is continually increasing. Between 2006 and 2007 99 homicides of LGBT members were registered, 37 of which as a direct result of discrimination. In 2008 and 2009 the number of murders rose to 127.
“Our goal is to invite everyone to participate in this interactive space to talk about the role of women in society, regardless of sexual orientation”, explains Consuelo Malatesta, a Mujer-es Diversidad member. “It is important to meet other people and create a system in which we can find emotional support. We can therefore take action not only as individuals, but as a collective.”
Even though Diana has found an extended family, she’s still in the process of overcoming the emotional damage caused by her parents’ rejection. “It caused a lot of insecurity and I still fight against that. But groups like Mujer-es Diversidad help people like me to find within ourselves the strength to stand for our rights. We’re human beings!” she declares. “We feel, we love and we want respect. I know my family will understand this someday. I discovered political activism here and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. I’m sure we can do so much more, however we need help and support from society and from the government.”
Mujer-es Diversidad wants to keep growing as one of the strongest and most active groups in the country, in hope of the world understanding that “whether homosexual or not, we are women. We need to make changes and stand for our rights.”