Guatemala’s first openly gay member of Congress has filed a formal discrimination complaint, saying that she has endured discrimination as a result of her sexual orientation and progressive political agenda in the Central American country’s conservative-dominated parliament.
Sandra Moran, a longtime feminist activists and artist who has pioneered women’s and LGBTI movements in Guatemala, was elected as a member of Congress last September along with two other candidates from her left-wing Convergence party—not to be confused with President Jimmy Morales’ conservative National Convergence Front or FCN party.
Moran filed a complaint with Guatemala’s Office of Human Rights Monday over a petition hosted on the conservative portal CitizenGo that attacks her based on her sexual orientation. The petition, launched Sept. 1 by a user named Alejandro Berganza, argues that Moran should not be appointed as the president of the Parliamentary Forum of Women in Congress because she is a lesbian, saying the appointee “must be a woman in the full sense.”
Feminist and human rights organization expressed support for Moran in the face of the attack.
“We reject the language and the sentiment of the petition,” wrote the regional Latin American and Caribbean LGBTI association Ilgalac in a statement. “The arguments are untenable, intolerant, abusive, and they trample the dignity of the lawmaker and that of millions of women in our country along with it.”
Meanwhile, the youth branch of Moran’s Convergence party also rejected the offensive petition as a “homophobic, discriminatory, sexist, and exclusionary” act that serves to “keep the people enslaved and ignorant.”
Moran is among the most influential feminist leaders in Guatemala. She is a champion for the rights of women and Indigenous people. At the beginning of her term in office, the history-making lawmaker told teleSUR that her decades of experience in Guatemalan social movements had shaped her approach to politics with a focus on giving voice to the grassroots through participative and collective processes.
But the process has not been without challenges as Moran’s Convergence party and its allies represent the vast majority in Guatemala’s Congress.
What’s more, conservative attacks have been on the rise against Moran for her sexuality, past involvement with an armed guerrilla movement, and feminist, socialist, anti-imperialist political agenda.
According to local media, her work to promote a bill to protect young women and girls who are victims of sexual violence—including measures to provide access to abortion in cases of rape—has garnered particular criticism from right-wing and anti-choice groups. Abortion is illegal in Guatemala except in cases of pregnancy endangering a woman’s life.