Op-ed: Colombia Is Our Movement in Motion

Student Kristen Thompson found a Colombia that is making legal advances but still needs cultural change.

BY Kristen Thompson

August 24 2012 4:00 AM ET

Toque Lésbico, a lesbian drumming group, in the 2012 LGBT Community March in Bogotá.

In Bogotá in May, a lesbian teenage couple kissed goodbye on a public bus and were met with more than just the usual eye-roll.  Some passengers were so bothered that they brought it up with a police officer, who I watched tell the girls they were ignorant and to “get a room … this kind of behavior is not allowed in public.” 

Cultural change is needed in Colombia as much if not more than legal change, as prejudices and ignorance continue to fuel violence and discrimination.

My recent internship at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission lead me to a summer internship with Bogotá-based Colombia Diversa – a group dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT people in Colombia and the 2010 recipient of the IGLHRC Felipa de Souza Award. While there, I researched cases of the murders of LGBT activists and police abuse of LGBT Colombians. 

Today in Colombia, an average of three LGBT people per month are murdered. A climate of impunity exists around these homicides, which are often filed under “crimes of passion” (read: temporary insanity), and the cases are disproportionately stuck in the investigation stage or eventually archived without finding the person responsible.

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