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RIGHTS-COLOMBIA: Where Homophobia Totes a Gun

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:56 AM
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RIGHTS-COLOMBIA: Where Homophobia Totes a Gun
RIGHTS-COLOMBIA: Where Homophobia Totes a Gun
By Mario Osava

BOGOTA, Dec 2 (IPS) - Homosexuals can remain in the closet and not be noticed, but that is not an acceptable alternative for transgender people who suffer violence to a greater extent in Colombia, where armed combatants in the conflicts too often turn prejudice into murder.

"We are not interested in hiding our sexual preference," and in this country "killing is easier" than in others, said Diana Navarro, the head of Corporacin Opcin, an organisation that works for the rights of prostitutes and transgender people, a term used in Colombia to refer to transvestites, transsexuals and cross-dressers.

"I am attacked for being black, transgender, a prostitute, and for speaking out," the activist told IPS. Her complaints of abuses against her community made an impact at the International Seminar on Human Rights, Sexual Diversity and State Policies, held Nov. 26-27 in Bogot.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Colombia faces state and social discrimination, as is common nearly everywhere in the world. But in their case it is aggravated by the conflicts between several armed groups which are all homophobic.

Homosexuals are particularly victimised by "social cleansing," a Colombian tradition of eliminating undesirables, and as "false positives" -- people killed by the armed forces to present as guerrillas killed in combat, said Navarro, who did not complete her university law course and is now studying participative social processes.

In 2006 and 2007, 67 Colombians were murdered because of their sexual orientation, according to Colombia Diversa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) for LGBT rights. But this is a very partial figure, the result of "a first effort" that was limited to the big cities, the NGO's lawyer Mauricio Noguera told IPS.

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