Chile: The gay lifestyle and the treatment of gays by police in Santiago and in Concepción (1999-2002)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||6 August 2002|
|Citation / Document Symbol||CHL39413.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Chile: The gay lifestyle and the treatment of gays by police in Santiago and in Concepción (1999-2002), 6 August 2002, CHL39413.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3f7d4d6826.html [accessed 9 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
For general information on the treatment of gays and lesbians in Chile, please consult CHL37939.E of 31 January 2002.
According to the Lesbian and Gay New York (LGNY) newspaper,
While Chile is striving towards increasing freedoms, it is still conservative and also strongly Catholic. Yet, like most Catholic countries, it maintains a double standard. It's okay to do what you do as long as you don't talk about it. To that end, Chile might not be described as gay-friendly, but rather gay-tolerant. With a population in which roughly 40% are under 30, however, things are quickly changing for the better. This is especially true in Santiago, where the gay scene has exploded in the last four years, creating venues rivaling those of medium sized U.S. cities (31 Oct. 2001).
A "Gay Guide to Santiago" published on the Gay Santiago Website states that "[t]he scene in Santiago is fairly open and similar to most developed countries" (11 Dec. 2000). According to another guide posted on the Chicago-based GLBT Events Website, while Santiago's gay scene is "developing," this city "has the best gay and lesbian life in the country" (n.d.). Sources report that most gay venues in Santiago are located in the Bellavista neighbourhood (ibid.; Gay Santiago 11 Dec. 2000; LGNY 31 Oct. 2001).
A 17 March 2002 article from La Tercera states that in the last five years, more than a dozen bars, discotheques and restaurants catering to homosexuals had opened around Forestal park in Santiago. The owner of a club called Bokhara stated that the increasing number of such venues was due to a change in mentality among the youth of the country, which was more open than that of ten years ago (La Tercera 17 Mar. 2002). However, the article mentions that such places are scarce outside of Santiago (ibid.).
On 16 September 2001, a Gay Pride march was held in Santiago's Plaza Italia with over 2,000 participants (El Mostrador 19 Sept. 2001; Weekly News Update 23 Sept. 2001). Weekly News Update on the Americas states that this annual march is held in September to "commemorate the deaths of 16 people in a fire at a gay discotheque in September 1994" and that the number of participants had gone up from 600 in 1999 and 1,000 in 2000 (ibid.).
On 13 June 2002, Inter Press Service (IPS) mentioned that Opusgay, the "first newspaper put out by Chile's homosexual community," had started to be distributed in Santiago. Opusgay reported on 24 June 2002 that the "Second Cultural Demonstration for Diversity and the End of Discrimination" (Segunda Muestra Cultural por la Diversidad y la No Discriminación), which had gathered 3,000 people the previous year, was slated to be held on 29 June in Santiago's Plaza de Armas. This event, coordinated by the Movement of Integration and Liberation of Homosexuals (Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual, MOVILH), was to gather various groups, such as indigenous peoples, youth, women, gays, lesbians and transvestites (Opusgay 24 June 2002).
A document entitled "Gay Chile" published on the Global Gayz Website stated that "modern gay Santiago is both at risk and thwarted while yet alive and well" (Spring 1999). On one hand, the document states that "historical and current discrimination from the church, which holds tight hands with the government, creates an attitude which allows unenlightened police to justify aggression against gays" (ibid.). On the other hand, the same document reports that "police leave [gay] clubs alone" because they generate a lot of revenue and because "many owners provide the local cops with a bit of extra cash, drinks or food" (ibid.).
According to MOVILH, on 16 January 2000, eight homosexuals in Santiago were detained "arbitrarily" (arbitrariamente) and beaten by police because they had "offended morality" (habían ofendido la moral) (28 Nov. 2000). On 2 March 2000, four transvestites were beaten by Carabineros officers in the Providencia neighbourhood of Santiago and had to be treated in hospital for multiple lesions (ibid.). According to MOVILH, these incidents, as well as the numerous complaints the organization receives from homosexuals concerning actions of police and municipal authorities, demonstrate the homophobia of the judiciary in Chile (ibid.).
In October 2001, MOVILH stated that the police discriminates against gays and lesbians in the official notices it releases, because these notices reveal the sexual orientation of people found committing crimes, "as if their [sexual] identity was the cause of the violations they commited" (como si la identidad fuera causa natura de las violaciones). In the same article, MOVILH also mentioned that media reports on the decision of Santiago's mayor, Joaquín Lavin, to bar transvestites from the San Camillo neighborhood didn't seem to establish the difference between transvestites and prostitutes (MOVILH Oct. 2001). In the 29 October 2000 municipal elections, Joaquín Lavin had defeated "gay-friendly" candidate Marta Larraechea (PlanetOut 30 Oct. 2000).
In November 2001, the Central Prefecture (Prefectura Central) of Santiago accepted to participate in an education program on the rights of sexual minorities created by MOVILH and aimed at police officers (MOVILH Nov. 2001). Juan Freire, the director of MOVILH, stated that it was the first time that Chilean police accepted such a dialogue with gays and lesbians (ibid.). In January 2002, the Civil Police accepted to investigate the distribution of homophobic pamphlets in Santiago's Bellavista neighbourhood, at the request of MOVILH (ibid. Jan. 2002a).
In June 2002, the directors of various organizations, such as MOVILH, expressed their concern about a national campaign initiated by the New Homeland Society movement (Patria Nueva Sociedad, PNS), described as a neo-nazi movement, to find new members in Chile (CPN 21 June 2002). In late February 2002, members of MOVILH publicly confronted members of the PNS who were collecting signatures in the centre of Santiago in order to have their movement recognized as a political party (MOVILH 27 Feb. 2002; Sentido G 9 Mar. 2002). This confrontation was reportedly due to "violent homophobic comments" (violentos dichos homofóbicos) made by the head of the PNS, Alexis López (ibid.; MOVILH 27 Feb. 2002), who said his organization would never accept homosexuals because they prevented reproduction (ibid.). Similarly, on 17 February 2002, a group of homosexuals and transvestites of the organization Traves-Chile demonstrated in Santiago's Ahumada avenue in an effort to stop the PNS from collecting signatures (ibid.; Proyecto Internacional de Derechos Humanos 1-18 Feb. 2002). This group had been denied a request it had made to hold similar demonstrations every Sunday in February 2002 in the Plaza de Armas (ibid.).
Very little information on the gay lifestyle outside of Santiago could be found among the sources consulted. MOVILH reported that there were no homosexual rights organizations outside of Santiago and that it was trying to set up such an organization in Calama, northern Chile (Jan. 2002b).
An article published in February 1999 in Aldea Periodismo, a publication by journalism students at the university of Concepción, reported on the double life of many homosexuals in Concepción. According to one person interviewed for this article, there are not many openly gay persons in this city (Aldea Periodismo Feb. 1999). Another person interviewed stated that in Chile's southern cities, there wasn't much tolerance towards homosexuals, but that a certain change in mentality had started to be noted (ibid.). The article mentions a public bath house, a movie theatre and a particular street where men can meet other men in this city (ibid.). The general coordinator of the Chile AIDS Prevention Council stated in July 1999 that when he first came to Chile 15 years earlier, he had found in Concepción a hidden gay café, without specifying its name (Gay Today 26 July 1999). No listing of gay venues located in Concepción or in neighbouring Talcahuano nor any reports on public events organized by gays or on the treatment of gays by police in these locations could not be found among sources consulted.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Aldea Periodismo [Concepción]. February 1999. Roberto Fernández and Andrea Alcaíno. "Homosexuales en Concepción: La doble vida."
Cadena Peruana de Noticias (CPN) [Lima]. 21 June 2002. "Preocupación en Chile por campaña de neo nazis."
Gay Santiago. 11 December 2000. "Gay Guide to Santiago, Chile."
Gay Today. 26 July 1999. Tim Frasca. "MSM: Death & the Erasure of Gay Identities."
GLBT Events [Chicago]. n.d. "Gay in Santiago, Chile."
Global Gayz. Spring 1999. Richard Ammon. "Gay Chile."
Inter Press Service (IPS). 13 June 2002. Gustavo González. "Health-Chile: AIDS Prevention Key Focus of First Gay Newspaper." (NEXIS)
Lesbian and Gay New York (LGNY). 31 October 2001. Michael T. Luongo. "A Date in Santiago."
El Mostrador. 19 September 2001. Cristina Schmidt. "Los enredos de los gays chilenos."
Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (MOVILH) [Santiago]. 27 February 2002. "Duro enfrentamiento entre gays y nazis chilenos en el centro de Santiago." Opusgay [Santiago]. 24 June 2002. "En el marco del Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos de los Homosexuales: Minorías celebran la diversidad en la Plaza de Armas." PlanetOut. 30 October 2000. "No Pro-Gay Mayor for Santiago." Proyecto Internacional de Derechos Humanos [London]. 1-18 February 2002. Boletín No. 39. "Protesta contra nazis chilenos." Sentido G [Buenos Aires]. 9 March 2002. "Enfrentamiento entre nazis y gays chilenos en el centro de Santiago." La Tercera [Santiago]. 17 March 2002. Marcela Espídora. "El auge del circuito gay chileno." Weekly News Update on the Amercias [New York]. 23 September 2001. "Chile: Pride March Doubles in Size." (NEXIS) Additional Sources Consulted IRB Databases Internet sites including: Amnesty International Corporación de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo (CODEPU) [Santiago] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2000-2001 GayChile.com Gay Law Net Global Gayz Human Rights Watch International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (MOVILH) Opusgay [Santiago] PlanetOut Sentido G [Buenos Aires] La Tercera [Santiago] World News Connection (WNC) Search engines including:
_____. January 2002a. "Policía civil toma declaración a movimiento gay chileno tras denuncia presentada por el Movilh."
_____. January 2002b. "Gays y lesbianas del norte de Chile iniciarán trámites para organizarse."
_____. November 2001. "Carabineros de Chile acepta sensibilizar a sus funcionarios sobre los sectores discriminados."
_____. October 2001. "Continuidad y cambio de los lenguajes discriminatorios sobre las minorías sexuales en los medios de comunicación."
_____. 28 November 2000. "Homofobia y administración de justicia."
Opusgay [Santiago]. 24 June 2002. "En el marco del Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos de los Homosexuales: Minorías celebran la diversidad en la Plaza de Armas."
PlanetOut. 30 October 2000. "No Pro-Gay Mayor for Santiago."
Proyecto Internacional de Derechos Humanos [London]. 1-18 February 2002. Boletín No. 39. "Protesta contra nazis chilenos."
Sentido G [Buenos Aires]. 9 March 2002. "Enfrentamiento entre nazis y gays chilenos en el centro de Santiago."
La Tercera [Santiago]. 17 March 2002. Marcela Espídora. "El auge del circuito gay chileno."
Weekly News Update on the Amercias [New York]. 23 September 2001. "Chile: Pride March Doubles in Size." (NEXIS)
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites including:
Corporación de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo (CODEPU) [Santiago]
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2000-2001
Gay Law Net
Human Rights Watch
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)
Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (MOVILH)
Sentido G [Buenos Aires]
La Tercera [Santiago]
World News Connection (WNC)
Search engines including: