Without a better past: violence against LGBTIQ+ people was not invented by the war

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The volume 'My body is the truth' pointed out that, with the Final Peace Agreement, the LGBTIQ+ population seeks to build a future that accepts the difference, because in the pages of their history they have not found any that have accepted them


Lizeth J. Piza

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Without a better past: violence against LGBTIQ+ people was not invented by war

LGBTIQ+ people seek to build a future that accepts difference, since they do not they have a past that is not marked by violence against them. (Infobae Colombia, Jesús Avilés)

“It is impossible for us to return to a better past, because we never had it. As long as we go further back, our past will be wrong. Those were the words of a social leader and artist interviewed by the Truth Commission regarding the violence experienced by LGBTIQ+ people before and during the armed conflict in Colombia. “This implies that, so that it does not happen again, we must build a future where there is room for diversity.”

Without a better past: violence against LGBTIQ+ people was not invented by war

The violence perpetrated by state agents and groups such as the AUC against LGBTIQ+ people in Montes de MaríaAccording to the volume 'My body is the truth' of the Final Report of the Truth Commission, between 2000 and 2008 serious violence was committed against people of this community in this region that connects the Colombian Caribbean with the scepter of the country


The entity that was born with the Final Peace Agreementit has a restorative approach for the victims of the internal war in the country; however, the LGBTIQ+ population does not have that same horizon. “This approach is useless,” said the also president of an organization of this group and recalled that the armed actors did not invent the violence they suffered, “they exacerbated it, but all this violence is historical and structural of society.”< /p>

The Commission went back to colonial times to talk about the origin of this discrimination. In the chronicles of some conquerors they found stories that talked about indigenous men who had relationships with each other and dressed as crossdressers. Even in the Spanish General Archive of the Indies —where criminal proceedings were stipulated— such actions were a “heinous sin” and were considered abominable and immoral.

Without a better past : violence against LGBTIQ+ people was not invented by the war

The Barranquilla Gay Carnival, an event that celebrates diversityIt is an event that seeks to highlight the contribution of the LGBTIQ+ Community during the Barranquilla Carnival


You can interest: An indelible mark: sexual and reproductive violence during the armed conflict in Colombia

“The Spanish invasion was not only about people , but also of ideas: a Judeo-Christian morality was imposed and, with it, an absolute repression of homosexuality and cross-dressing that they had already seen in the indigenous natives,” the entity explained in volume My body is my truth. And although by 1837 it ceased to be a crime in the National Penal Code, in the 19th century the discussions regarding sexuality at the international level ended up affecting the Colombian scene.

Without a better past: violence against LGBTIQ+ people was not invented by war

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The Penal Code of 1936 stipulated a penalty of six months to two years in prison for those who “consume homosexual carnal access, whatever their age.” At the same time, Europe and the United States had criminalized sexual practices that deviated from heterosexuality and after World War II, science tried to “explain” the reason for sexual orientation, which is why they ended up pathologizing it.

Persecution and social cleansing during the conflict

“In the [clandestine] bars there was a red light bulbabove the door. When he turned it on and off it meant that the police had arrived”, narrated Fabio, a gay man and LGBTIQ + victim during the armed conflict. At that time, homosexuals, lesbians and transvestites began to act as heterosexuals to avoid being detained and tortured by the public forces.

Although pretending to have another sexual orientation was not quite enough. “If the owners of the bar did not pay them tolls, they would take us out, put us in a patrol car and take us to the fifth station with 32,” said the interviewee from the Truth Commission. On some occasions, members of the National Police would take them to the Monserrate hill, in Bogotá, and bathe them with cold water.

“They made us undress and they threw our clothes away, so you had to walk, wet, in that cold, at three or four in the morning, to look for your clothes,” he added.

That was the panorama of the 1970s. LGBTIQ+ people were linked to unions and student groups, which intensified the criminalization and social and political stigmatization against them, both guerrillas and the April 19 Movement (< b>M-19) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) used them as scapegoats, while for the National Police they served as hooks.< /p>

“At that time it was thought that there were homosexual leaders in the guerrillas and the Army did tenacious things: they hooked little soldiers who were not gay and some arrested them while fucking,” Fabio pointed out. That was one of the ways they had to corner the enemy, which increased with the constant states of siege decreed by the national government.

The Commission also detailed what would be the social cleansingcommitted by State agents after the implementation of the Security Statute of the Government of Julio César Turbay in 1978. “This penal regime sought to reduce social mobilizations, impose social and political controls, and stop the progressive growth of guerrilla groups, all through repressive actions ”, highlighted the entity born with the Final Peace Agreement.

In a collective interview, a trans woman named Irina told what the extinct F2 of the National Police did /b>in Santander in 1985. “You couldn't stop at 15 with 34,” the victim said. They beat us, they shot at us, they took us there and they dumped us in Rionegro, at kilometer 18″. In that place, they attacked trans people to the point of killing them.

Without a better past: violence against LGBTIQ+ people was not invented by war

Distribution of those responsible for violence against LGBTIQ+ people during the armed conflict in Colombia. (Truth Commission)

HIV as a reason for persecution

“When the HIV problem came outthey said it was a case especially of trans people,” said Miriam, a trans woman from Bucaramanga who was persecuted at the end of the 1980s. The victim pointed out that more than 20 people could be murdered a night. “They were big massacres, for the mere fact that they were homosexual, because they thought that this disease was only spread to us, because we were gay,” she added.

In 2002, during the failed dialogues between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the State, the rapid HIV detection tests used by the Front 27 came to light.A report by Colombia Diversa —consulted by the Truth Commission— presented the case of Verónica and Jenny, two trans women who were displaced from Vista Hermosa, Meta, precisely because of the alleged link between the disease and the LGBTIQ+ population.

Due to the presence of the armed group, they could not assume their sexuality and gender identity freely. One day Jenny was threatened by a guerrilla while she was having lunch in a restaurant. “Stop or I'll kill you,” the man told him. I hate fags.” Trans people had to live with this type of aggression all the time; however, for the two women the situation worsened in April 2000.

One day Verónica's sister woke up both women and alerted them to some gratifis that said “Verónica has AIDS”. According to the report Living Under Suspicion, “aka Smurf forced them to write a list of all members of the LGBT population, 'even in the closet' or all people who had sexual relations with them. He gave them three days to leave the municipality and then ordered mass HIV testing for the entire community.

Threat to the moral and social order

The LGBTIQ+ population had some victories during the armed conflict in Colombia. In 1980 homosexuality was decriminalized, although in practice —as has already been exposed— the repression continued. In 1990, the World Health Organization withdrew the pathological nature of this sexual orientation and after the 1991 Constitution, people belonging to this group could access the protection action.

Despite these advances, during the internal war they were seen as a threat to the moral and social order and this situation worsened between 2003 and 2016. The Commission pointed to that period as the period with the greatest amount of violence by paramilitary groups in alliance with the public force and state agents, especially with the Democratic Security policy, “which deepened the concept of internal enemy”.

These actions became notorious with the use of state infrastructure , “such as detention centers, to commit such acts in municipalities such as El Carmen de Bolívar.” For these types of cases, the population does not seek a restorative approach, but the construction of a future that accepts diversity. Thus, the victims will no longer have to hide, as a gay man told the Commission.

—I had to find myself a woman, to hide behind it.

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