The headquarters of Chilean LGBTI rights group the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH) was defaced with homophobic graffiti on Saturday, sparking an outcry from across Chilean society.
Slogans such as ‘gay AIDS patients’ and ‘death to gays’ were scrawled on the building’s facade and footpath by unknown persons on the same day that 50,000 people marched in support of LGBTI equality in Alameda.
It was the first time in MOVILH’s 23 year history that such an attack was carried out on its headquarters.
‘With great sadness we saw this morning that the sidewalk and the front of our headquarters were completely lined with brutal homophobic phrases,’ the group said in a statement.
‘This clearly demonstrates that the more you advance in rights and equality for sexual diversity, the more homophobes and transphobes act with irrationality and violence against those who have a sexual orientation or gender identity different to the majority.’
The group has lodged a complaint with the police, but the incident has resulted in an outpouring of support for the group.
Chilean Government Minister Alvaro Elizalde paid a personal visit to express the government’s concern over the attack, saying that it showed the need to strengthen Chile’s laws protecting LGBTIs.
‘It is very important to be alert to condemn all forms of hate speech and acts of aggression based on sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious or ideological in the thinking of a particular person - any form of discrimination is acceptable,’ Elizalde said.
‘As a government we can not stand idly by, we can not have a passive role when we see this kind of facts occurs.
‘If you do not condemn such attacks from the beginning, then we have dramatic events as was the Zamudio case and so it is very important that as a society we are alert to condemn any incitement to hatred and acts of aggression.’
Elizalde was referring to the 2012 murder of 24-year-oldgay man Daniel Zamudio which shocked Chilean society into passing its first law protecting people from discrimination and hate crimes on the grounds of sexuality and gender identity amongst other categories.
Elizalde, who is also the Secretary General of the ruling Socialist Party was joined by all other parties in the parliament in condemning the attack.
MOVILH also received support from the Chilean Army and the United Nations.
The army’s head of communications, Colonel Cristobal de la Cerda Rodríguez, wrote to the group to share its support.
‘We share the repudiation of this treacherous attack on your headquarters,’ Rodriguez wrote.
‘[This incident] is a sign that a section of our community has not moved towards the inclusion of all. Hopefully you can overcome this and continue your work as soon as possible.’
The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also condemned the attack.
‘This attack is of particular concern, given the role played by such organizations as defenders of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,’ OCHCR said in a statement.
‘All sectors of society are called to repudiate any act of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is the duty of the State to thoroughly investigate and punish those responsible for these acts, in order to prevent these forms of violence are reiterated or worsen.
‘The State of Chile has assumed international obligations to respect and guarantee against discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity. This is essential to promote prevention and generate affirmative action to eradicate the stigma and stereotypes that are the basis of discourses and practices of discrimination and violence against various groups of the population.
‘We reiterate the need to carry out campaigns of public education and information to counter homophobic and transphobic attitudes, and promote the values of diversity and mutual respect. We reiterate to the powers of the State of Chile the need to build a culture of human rights that promotes the value of equality and non-discrimination.’