Increasing the organizing impact of lesbians in Mexico

In Mexico, lesbians are still extremely marginalized and face discrimination for being women and lesbians.

Why we care:  March 16, 2013, marked the 10-year anniversary of the Marcha Lésbica, the first-ever lesbian march organized in Latin America.

How we’re solving this: Hold a one-day retreat for lesbian organizations convening the march to evaluate its impact and strategically plan how to increase its collective impact on a national level across the next decade.

In 2003, grassroots women’s organizations in Mexico City organized the first Lesbian March in Latin America. Since then, the March has drawn thousands of women from across Mexico to demand human and civil rights for lesbians.

The march provides a space of empowerment, solidarity and visibility for lesbians and has grown to become the largest public demonstration organized by women in Latin America. Beyond occurring on a single day of the year, the March is the voice of a larger lesbian-feminist movement working on many fronts to combat marginalization of lesbians in Mexico.

The Lesbian March is organized by COMAL, a network of lesbian-feminist organizations and activists.* Through this joint effort, COMAL convenes grassroots lesbian groups from across Mexico that represent national level constituencies at the march. Together, these groups work to effect change for lesbians across diverse regional and political settings, from Tijuana to Chiapas.

Reaching the 10th anniversary of the march is an opportunity to engage in an evaluation process to assess what we have achieved and learned through this organizing effort as we determine the future direction of our work. We seek funding to hold a one-day retreat for lesbian organizations to carry out dialog, evaluation and strategic planning that will focus on increasing our collective impact on a national level into the next decade. To implement this retreat, funding is needed to cover a professional facilitator, travel of representatives to Mexico City from outlying states, overnight stay, and lunch.

Working each day to address the urgent and complex needs of our community, we rarely have the opportunity to stop and reflect collectively upon the lessons emerging from our organizing experience. Twenty-five years into the lesbian movement in Mexico, women are breaking ground. In December 2009, Mexico City’s local government approved same-sex marriage and declared that all districts must recognize same-sex couples. Despite new legislation, implementation of broader legal protections is abysmal and lesbians are still extremely marginalized. They face discrimination for being women and lesbians, and even the broader women’s and LGBTI movements exclude diverse lesbian identities. Lesbians are at high risk for sexual abuse, even by law enforcement. Lesbians have reported arbitrary arrests and verbal and physical abuse from police officers including insults, hitting, and groping. Without strong implementation of anti-discrimination protections, lesbians are also susceptible to hate crimes, such as “corrective rape,” when a man rapes a woman presumed to be a lesbian, in order to “convert” her to heterosexuality.

With much work ahead to improve social conditions for lesbians in the decade to come, we ask your support to help us chart the way forward and increase the impact of our organizing.

*COMAL is made up of the following organizations: LeSVOZ, A.C. (Mexico City); El Taller, A.C. (Puebla); Mujeres Alfareras de Tlahuac, S.C. (Mexico City); Archivo de Lesbianas Feministas (Mexico City).