Thousands of Mexicans took to the streets of cities across the country Saturday to “defend their children” and “defend the traditional family” against the the alleged threat of gay marriage.
The so-called “march for the family” was called by the National Front for the Family, a Catholic organization that was created last May after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto submitted a proposal to Congress to legalize gay marriage nationwide.
The initiative was seen as a move by Peña Nieto to gain popular support amid historically low approval ratings, and was ultimately dropped by lawmakers of his own party.
However, the most conservative wing of Mexico, including the archbishop of Norberto Rivera and other religious congregations, have supported and joined a campaign against the lingering threat of equality—a campaign that has been widely criticized by intellectuals, politician and civil organizations for promoting hatred and violence against the LGBT community.
Members of the National Front for the Family say they represent more than one million families in Mexico and argue that they obtain resources from their own members. However, critics say the participation of the Catholic Church is evident in this political movement, with LGBT activists calling it a violation of Mexico’s secular democracy.
“The right to demonstrate and freedom of expression can not be used to promote hatred and discrimination, especially in a country where members of LGBTQ are already vulnerable to bullying, harassment, intimidation and even death threats,” Temistocles Villanueva, national secretary for Sexual Diversity in the leftist-progressive MORENA party, said in an interview with teleSUR.
The representatives of the National Front for the Family say they respect homosexuality, however they demand the state reject their constitutional right to marry, calling them “unstable people” in their propaganda.
Same-sex marriage is legal in some states of Mexico, however, in other states same-sex couples have been banned from getting married.
Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that every civil state authority should “recognize marriage as a human right and that people can enter into marriage without any kind of discrimination.”
Marches were called in 120 cities across the country, however local press reports big demonstrations have been held only in Toluca, Tijuana, Queretaro, Puebla and Cuernavaca, with an estimated attendance of 100,000 people. A big demonstration is also planned for Sep. 24 in Mexico City, recognized worldwide as a gay cultural capital.
LGBTQ movements will on Sept. 11 hold a protest to promote inclusion and respect. They are expected to release a letter addressed to Pope Francis to in which they will demand the removal of Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, who they accuse of “promoting hatred” towards the community.