Sunday, June 23, 2024

Mayor in Chiapas apologizes after saying feminism, sexual diversity not normal

The mayor of a municipality in Chiapas has apologized after stating that feminism and homosexuality are not normal.

In a press conference held Monday in advance of a music and cultural festival in Ocozocoautla de Espinosa this week, Mayor Javier Maza Cruz commented on feminism and homosexuality by saying, “All those things, they can be seen as normal, but they are not.” 

Local media picked up on the comments and broadcast the portion of his speech in which he also recommended that young people should engage in reading, painting and creating with their hands so “they will be more involved in artistic activities than in trivial things — things that are not going to fill the spirit.” 

“Read so that homosexuality or feminism are removed,” he was quoted as saying. “Moral values ​​are being lost with feminism and factors of sexuality.” 

Hours later, through his social networks, Maza apologized and assured that his administration will always be inclusive of the LGBTTTIQ+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transvestite, transsexual, intersex and queer). By that time, video of the press conference had been removed from official channels.

Ocozocoautla, known more informally as Coita, is a town and municipality of 97,000 about 15 miles west of the Chiapas capital city of Tuxla-Gutiérrez. 

The Festival Emergente (Emerging Festival) is set for June 9 and 10 in a large park near the zoo. It includes musical acts of many different styles (including ska, hip-hop, rap and surf music), break-dancing, stargazing led by an astronomical club, vendors and creative workshops. In that light, Maza lauded festival organizers for an event that focuses on young audiences interested in urban culture and emerging expressions.

He also said that many young people are engaged in nonproductive activities, and that for society to improve, there is a need to instill in them arts, culture and education. “We are very concerned about these generations that are coming now,” he said, adding that society’s “moral values are being lost” because of the media and misinformation.

“The truth is that we have a post-pandemic generation that was already [addicted] to smartphones,” he said. “Through culture, arts and education we will be able to have a better society.”

In regard to the mayor’s comments about homosexuality and feminism, which came during the month in which gay pride is celebrated, groups such as the feminist collective 50+1 Chiapas issued condemnations on their social networks.

“[We] express our outrage and strongly condemn the statements … [that] feminists and people of sexual diversity are not normal,” 50+1 Chiapas posted in a four-paragraph statement on its Facebook page. “We all have the right to be treated with the same dignity, which is why intolerance, discrimination and gender-based violence are reprehensible. We demand a public apology!” 

Maza did just that. “My most sincere apologies to the entire LGBT community and feminist groups for my comment issued today,” he said in a 52-second video message posted to his Facebook account. “To clarify, both this public servant and the government that I represent are respectful of all citizens without any distinction.”

In an additional Facebook post the next day, he said in a video that Ocozocoautla would implement a program addressing gender and gender diversity “in order for us to be a fully inclusive government.” In a written statement accompanying that video, he said Coita “would be one of the first municipalities to have a director in charge of defending plurality and the issues of the LGBTTTIQ+ community … It’s important that they know that our intentions are the best in terms of respecting human rights.”

With reports from El Universal and La Jornada

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