On September 10, 2015, the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBT Organizations came into existence, following the government’s “National Dialogue,” a series of state-led conversations with civil-society groups.
The new organization is made up of 2,000 members, representing 60 different LBGT groups. Its stated goal is to “design public policy that favors the LGBT community.”
To the untrained eye, this may seem like a government effort to assist traditionally marginalized groups and promote more inclusive societies. As Justice Minister Lenny Zúñiga says, “we are equal, but different. The search for equality and equity strengthens democracy.”
It sounds good, doesn’t it?
Dialogue between Party Loyalists
The truth is that the Rafael Correa administration hand-picked the Federation’s board of directors. They all support the ruling party, and view themselves as loyal advocates of Correa’s Citizen Revolution. Like the directors, the organizations that comprise the federation are government supporters as well.
Groups that have had disagreements with President Rafael Correa, such as the Civil Marriage Equality, Everything Improves, or the Ecuadorian Foundation for Equity, weren’t invited to the “national dialogue,” nor the federation.
And these are organizations that have been fighting for LGBT rights in Ecuador for over a decade. Many leaders, like Pamela Troya, Silvia Buendía, and Efraín Soria, have been excluded from the government-sponsored initiative.
What a coincidence.
In August, Congressman Lurdes Tibán and the Milhojas Foundation leaked parts of a report penned by former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño that set forth activities and strategies to recover the Ecuadorian government’s credibility and regain the public’s trust.
One of the report’s sections is titled “Strategic Guidelines to Deactivate the Destabilization Process and Strengthen Social Mobilization.” It speaks for itself, but let’s have a deeper look.
The leaked government report recommends “connecting with social organizations,” such as LGBT groups, to foster political alliances across the country. It also notes that these engagements should aim to boost groups that support the Citizen Revolution, and discourage those that are “unhappy” with the government.
With the contents of the leaked report in mind, a pro-government LGBT federation popping up two months later is not a surprise. Otherwise, the Correa administration suddenly seeking to empower LGBT groups would seem rather strange. High-ranking Ecuadorian officials, including President Correa, have made derogatory and mocking statements toward homosexuals in the past.
For example, on the 354th episode of Correa’s weekly TV show Citizen Link, the president said gender ideology was a theory that “does not hold up to the slightest analysis,” goes against the “laws of nature,” and other crude remarks.
In another episode, Correa rejected the idea of marriage equality, and argued that transsexuals who sought legal recognition were secretly scheming to push the gay-marriage agenda. He ended his speech by saying that adoption should be only allowed in “traditional families” of “man, woman, and child,” excluding homosexual couples.
In other words, the president is confusing gender identity with the paranoid notion that gays only dream of getting married, and that feminists are extremists with nonsensical theories.
Ironically, the head of government-backed Ecuadorian Federation of LGBT Organization is a transwoman.
On October 28, 2014, the Correa administration’s “Minister of Morality” Mónica Hernández delivered an evaluation of the material that the Public Health Ministry used to teach sexual education. It’s a shameful document that only proves Hernández’s ignorance.
This is what she had to say regarding “Methodological Notebook 1”:
- Intersexuality does not exist, because it’s not frequent.
- The idea that sex and gender are not the same is false, because women menstruate.
- The existence and the belief in transsexual people goes against nature and is illogical.
- Radical feminists have infiltrated gender theory.
The government then recalled the Public Health Ministry’s material that Hernández had analyzed, so it could be “corrected.”
Turning Activism into Propaganda
If we dig a little deeper, we can see how the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBT Organization is nothing more than another propaganda tool. Its directors and members are supporters of the ruling PAÍS Alliance, and the exclusion of dissident LGBT activists is not a coincidence.
From a government that has repeatedly rejected LGBT groups, a lot more could have been expected. It’s likely that the federation will now attempt to conceal the government’s phobia toward sexual minorities with workshops and propaganda, instead of fighting for equality before the law or against violence.
Many LGBT organizations and activists have denounced this farce. The head of the federation has become the supposed liaison between the community and the government, but how is that possible if they don’t represent us?