I Am a Gay Man, Ending Violence.

Ricardo Baruch, Guest Contributor

When we hear the term “gender-based violence”, what probably comes to mind is a woman being beaten by her husband or a girl being threatened by her boyfriend, but gender-based violence goes far beyond the relationship between men and women. Homophobia and transphobia are other expressions of gender-based violence.

Last March, activist Agnes Torres was tortured and murdered in Puebla, Mexico, by a group of men (including a former boyfriend) who considered her to be an easy target because she was transgender. When I learned of Agnes' death, I was reminded of the many experiences of abuse I have witnessed. In primary and secondary school, I was often subjected to harassment and bullying by classmates who considered me less of a man because I didn't play soccer or flirt with girls. At the young age of 9-years-old age, I learned from family members, media, and my peers that stepping outside of traditional gender roles was "bad" and violence was an acceptable punishment.

Similar to women and girls, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are made to endure embedded inequalities related to their gender expression and sexuality. The fact is that being openly LGBT can get you jailed or, like Agnes Torres, executed. So, what do we do in this scenario to create a more equal world?

It is important to enact protective legislation and change unjust laws that permit violence against LGBT people. The United Nations’ Human Rights Office’s Report “Born Free and Equal” is a good starting place for promoting respect, dignity, and the equal rights of all, regardless of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. We should also listen to the words of global leaders; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has spoken about LGBT rights on numerous occasions.

Comprehensive sexuality education that is based in human rights is fundamental. This provides an opportunity for children and adolescents to learn acceptance of sexual diversity and the importance of showing respect to those who have non-traditional gender identities. UNESCO recommends including LGBT issues into school's educational curricula as an effective method to help prevent discrimination and violence.

In most Latin American countries, there are laws that focus on protecting women and LGBT people from violence. Nevertheless, these legal protections aren't necessarily reflected in society’s opinions or behaviors. That is why there is a need for schools, media, and families to be centers of knowledge, where new generations learn that violence is unacceptable under any circumstance. The simple fact is that no one deserves to be hurt or killed simply for being different.



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