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Pro-gay ad campaign rankles conservatives in Mexico

Pro-gay ad campaign rankles conservatives in Mexico

A government-sponsored radio campaign in Mexico featuring a mother nervously preparing dinner for her son's boyfriend has conservative groups opposing what they see as official approval for a gay "lifestyle." The campaign is part of a new law, signed by President Vicente Fox in June 2003, that outlaws several types of discrimination, including bias based on sexual orientation. The law also requires federal agencies to launch campaigns to promote tolerance. While gays and lesbians have experienced growing acceptance within Mexican society, they still have a long way to go before obtaining full equal rights. And there are still occasional reports of attacks against transvestites and people suspected of being gay. The two radio spots will air this month in 15 Mexican cities. But a lack of funds will keep them from being heard in Mexico's three major cities: Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. An official date hasn't been set for their release. The campaign hopes to add more cities and even create television versions in the future. In one of the radio spots, a mother prepares dinner before her son brings his date home for the first time. She asks her son several questions about how long the two have been dating and the date's likes and dislikes. Then, she asks, "What's your date's name?" "Oscar," her son replies, revealing to the audience that he is gay. A narrator then says equality begins with acceptance of those who are different. Religious and conservative groups, including the National Unity of Parents, are trying to stop the campaign, arguing it promotes homosexuality. "We are not saying homosexuals should be discriminated, disrespected, or hurt," said Guillermo Bustamante Manilla, National Unity president. "But homosexuality is not natural. It is aberrant, and we don't believe it should be promoted with our taxes." The organization created its own radio spots, hoping they could replace those produced by the government. In one, a daughter tells her mother she is attracted to women. The mother thanks her daughter for confiding in her but then says her family will help her so she "won't act out tendencies that could affect her gravely." The office of health secretary Julio Frenk, who spearheaded the antidiscrimination campaign with the government-sponsored National Council to Prevent Discrimination, has shown no signs of backing down and refused to air National Unity's ads. (AP)

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