What a president would mean for abortion and LGBTQ rights

Monday 29 April, 2024
5 mins read


México City.- If a woman wins the presidency of México, would there be a government with a gender perspective?

The question has accompanied the electoral campaigns a few months before elections that will almost certainly produce a female president for the period 2024-2030.

Of the three candidates, the leader is Claudia Sheinbaum, who has promised to continue the project of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. She is followed by Xóchitl Gálvez, representative of several opposition parties, one of them conservative.

The triumph of one or the other, however, would not guarantee progress in gender policies. In this predominantly Catholic country, neither of the two candidates has shared specific proposals on abortion, although they have proposed measures to protect women in a country that registers dozens of femicides annually.

What are some of the challenges the next government will face regarding the feminist agenda and LGBTQ rights?

What is the current panorama of abortion in México?

México is a federal republic, which means that each state has its own criminal codes to regulate its crimes.

Abortion has been decriminalized in 11 of 32 states: México City, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Baja California, Colima, Sinaloa, Guerrero, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo and Aguascalientes. In addition, a Supreme Court ruling prohibits the criminalization of those who abort in Coahuila and, after the recent ruling of another court, Jalisco will soon be added to this list.

Other states contemplate some causes and it is allowed throughout the territory if the pregnancy is the result of rape.

A Court resolution paved the way for decriminalization at the federal level in 2023, but ordering the repeal of the regulations that criminalize abortion in the Federal Penal Code does not modify state legislation or eliminate social stigma.

In states where it is already legal, there are activists who denounce a lack of supplies and training in clinics, as well as harassment of applicants.

To address this problem and facilitate access where it is not yet allowed, a network of volunteers called “companions” provide information, medications or contacts to those who wish to terminate their pregnancy.

Could abortion in México decline like in the United States?

Whoever wins, the Executive would not directly affect its progress or regression because each state has autonomy over its penal code.

However, says Ninde Molina, a lawyer at Abortistas MX, an organization specialized in abortion litigation strategies, whoever comes to power could have an impact as a kind of moral authority.

“The weight of the president is that he is the representative of the Mexican people and it would be expected that he expressly expresses himself in favor of human rights,” he says. “In the context in which we find ourselves, it is very dangerous that there are such lukewarm proposals because the message he sends is that these are not fundamental rights.”

And although at the moment it is not worrying to think about a setback, the scenario would change if López Obrador or Sheinbaum managed to alter the composition of the Judiciary.

After several tensions between judges, magistrates and the president, he sent a reform to Congress to replace the current members of the federal judiciary with others elected by popular vote, which worries several analysts, including Molina.

“The Court is also in danger,” he says. “People may find it attractive, but they don’t realize what it entails.”

“For example, an abortion case could arise and what has already been written goes backwards.”

What does the conservative sector think?

Isaac Alonso, of the Viva México Movement, which supported Eduardo Verástegui’s presidential aspirations, thinks that none of the candidates represents the conservative vision or interests.

From their ranks there is also a lack of forcefulness on the issue and Alonso explains that for the conservatives the slogan has not changed: although they say they are not in favor of criminalizing women, abortion is unjustifiable, so they would wait for government policies that encourage births, for example, through improvements in the adoption system.

“We believe in promoting public policies with a family perspective and in creating an ecosystem so that a baby can live in favorable safety conditions.”

Rodrigo Iván Cortés, president of the National Front for the Family, does not see an encouraging outlook either. “Before 2018, abortion had only been approved in México City,” he recalls.

“It is very relevant to say how the Supreme Court, under the presidency of Arturo Saldívar, had an ideological bias,” he says about the judge who is now part of the team close to Sheinbaum and also has quarrels with the current judiciary.

According to Cortés, conservatives do not see in the government an ally to protect life, also understood from the lack of combat against violence, and, whoever comes to government, they will continue to ask for approaches “to take care of the first and fundamental rights.”

A president with a feminist perspective?

“Just because a woman wins does not guarantee a gender perspective at all,” says Pauline Capdevielle, Researcher at the Legal Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). “In fact, what we are seeing more and more are strategies by conservative sectors to create a façade of feminism that opposes the feminist tradition.”

A true change, she indicates, would start by integrating true feminists into the government. “It is not about putting women where there were none, but about politicizing these issues and really promoting a transformation.”

Some feminists have shown their support for Sheinbaum, but both she and López Obrador have received criticism for their lack of empathy towards protesters protesting against gender violence. In addition to this, organizations such as Amnesty International have denounced excessive use of force against women in the March 8 marches and consider that their right to protest is stigmatized.

For Capdevielle, among the issues that need to be strengthened in México’s gender agenda, women’s participation in political processes and reproductive justice stand out.

“Consolidate the right to abortion, which is far from being a reality for all women” and guarantee comprehensive sexual education, access to contraceptives, the right to self-perceived identity and the rights of LGBTQ people.

What is the pattern for the LGBTQ community?

“The needs of this population are not likely to figure prominently in the presidential election,” says Cristian González Cabrera, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“This disregard ignores the reality of many LGBT people in México, who continue to live in contexts of violence and discrimination.”

In México the LGBTQ community has been the target of violence for a long time. The civil organization Letra S documented more than 500 homicides in the last six years, 58 of them in 2023, and 2024 began with the murder of three members of the trans community, a group that, along with migrants, are particularly vulnerable, González considers. Cabrera.

“LGBT migrants continue to suffer abuse from criminal groups and Mexican officials due to their double vulnerability,” he explains. “Too often, these human rights violations are not effectively investigated or punished.”

Sheinbaum defended in 2023 that as mayor of the capital she created a Comprehensive Health Unit for Trans People and said that her dream would be to continue fighting on behalf of people of sexual diversity, but did not specify more.

For her part, Gálvez wrote that in her government, women of sexual diversity would live with respect for their orientation and identity, but she did not delve into specific proposals either, which continues to arouse suspicion among members of the LGBTQ community aware that one of the parties who supports it is historically conservative.

González Cabrera highlights that since 2022 all states recognize equal marriage, but there are rights that are not yet guaranteed in some entities. “For example, there are 11 states where the legal recognition of gender identity for trans people is not possible through administrative means, despite Supreme Court rulings recognizing this right.”

For there to be an agenda in favor of the LGBTQ population, he adds, a government should consult its representatives about their needs, allocate resources to address violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, support LGBTQ migrants and encourage state governments to harmonize their legislation with the Court’s rulings in favor of their rights.

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Source: Associated Press from El Diario on 2024-04-27 15:33:00

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