San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gay Rights Leaders Praise ‘Day Against Homophobia’

Sexual rights leaders marked a milestone yesterday with the passing into law of the National Day Against Homophobia, to be marked every year on May 17, laying a wreath at San José’s National Park Monument.

The law makes a pledge to stamp out homophobia – the discrimination towards and fear, hatred or dislike of homosexuals based on their sexual preference.

“Today is a day of one more victory in the war against discrimination,” said Ana Helena Chacón, a legislator whom rights leaders thanked for pushing hard for the law. She spoke amid waving rainbow flags, the world symbol of pride and freedom for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.

In addition to homophobia, “transphobia” – discrimination against transsexual or transgender people – is also a problem here that must be eradicated, according to Abelardo Araya, president of the Diversity Movement.

“There are large sectors of society that resist a change in mentality,” Araya said. He said “gradual progress” is being made. “We’re not like 20 years ago, and this week there was an important consensus over this law, on the part of the Health Ministry, the Ombudsman, Costa RicaUniversity and the CostaRicanLutheranChurch,” he said. “But there’s still work to be done – we can’t say the battle’s won.”

The law also calls for Costa Rica to raise awareness of the day, which also falls on the International Day Against Homophobia.

Araya said that his organization hadn’t programmed any actual event for the first commemoration tomorrow.


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