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LGBT lunch meeting with Graeme Reid, from Human Rights Watch

by Antón Castellanos Usigli, December 27, 2012

From December 6th to December 8th, the VII National Congress of Sexual Health of the Mexican Association for Sexual Health took place at the Superior School of Medicine of the National Polytechnic Institute. As President of the Scientific Committee (the youngest one in the history of the Association), I prepared a Congress program for which I invited the most recognized sexologists in Mexico, as well as two international speakers: Eli Coleman (Director of the Program of Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota), and Graeme Reid (Director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch in New York).

I first met Graeme when he was my Professor at the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society that I studied at the University of Amsterdam in July 2011. Some months ago, I saw him again at his New York apartment to make him an interview about LGBT youth’s sexual health for the Youth Initiative of the World Association for Sexul Health (WAS). With the same friendly attitude that Graeme showed me in New York, he arrived for the first time in Mexico City to participate at one of the most important Mexican sexology conferences. However, Graeme’s visit was not only important because he would deliver a keynote speech about LGBT rights in the globalized world, but because he would approach LGBT groups in Mexico for the first time.  Although Mexico City recently approved gay marriages, the situation of LGBT rights in the country is still very precarious, as LGBT people continue to be the social group that faces more discrimination (check the National Survey on Discrimination), and as there are no federal policies that protect them and guarantee their rights.

Thus, on Sunday December 9th, I organized a lunch meeting with Graeme and eight LGBT Mexican advocates in a restaurnt located at the Historic Centre. The conversation flowed all the way through, as questions from all the advocates came and Graeme answered them with calm and interest. He explained that Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an organization that through precise and objective research establishes patterns of abuse in order to denounce them and advocate for social change, and as an expert on Africa’s LGBT rights situation, he gave examples of the work that HRW is doing on that region. With careful attention, Graeme listened to the problems that LGBT people face in Mexico, including the difficulties that transgender people face to access the Mexican health system and the violence that they suffer from police officers. The lunch meeting constituted a very rich dialogue that will mark the beginning of future collaborations between the LGBT Rights Program of Human Rights Watch and LGBT groups in Mexico.