ASUNCION – More than 100 members of Paraguay’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community gathered on Tuesday in front of Congress for a kiss-in to denounce harassment and discrimination.
Fiorella Yuhats, 20, told EFE that rejection of sexual diversity ranges from prejudice to physical violence.
“Harassment happens almost all the time on the street. They yell at us, insult us and sometimes they throw things at us,” Yuhats said.
She added that while she has found a more “free environment” at university, her partner, 18-year-old Ysanne Martinez, still faces bullying in high school.
Simon Cazal, representative of the Somosgay (We Are Gay) organization, told EFE that the roots of homophobia and transphobia in Paraguay can be traced back to the 1954-1989 dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner.
Under Stroessner, gay men were arrested, locked-up, humiliated and tortured to “instill the idea that LGBT people were a threat to society,” Cazal said.
The repression still causes LGBT people to remain fearful of revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity, he said.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization commemorated 26 years since the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, a date that is now remembered worldwide as the Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
However, transsexuality remains classified as a psychological pathology, “gender dysphoria,” which is defined as the mismatch between the sex at birth and the gender identity later assumed by the individual.
More than 50 transgender people have been murdered in Paraguay since 1989, according to LGBT organizations.