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Lesbianofobia Kills » Women's Courage

Lesbianofobia Kills

March 8th, 2013 by megm3 Leave a reply »

In my blogs I have focused on health disparities based on income, language barriers, and geography. However, many health disparities faced by women also happen based on discriminations against their identity. Unfortunately, in countries like Argentina where the majority accepts homosexuality (72%) and a minority (21%) is against it, discriminatory acts against women based on their sexuality still occur (1).

Lesbianphobia or “Lesbianofobia” can result in a murder. Such was the case in Cordoba, Argentina Natalia “Pepa” Gaitan was assassinated by her girlfriend’s stepfather (2). Her girlfriend, Silvia, was 16 years old and was kicked out of her house by her family when she told them she was dating Pepa. Pepa then asked Silvia to move-in with her because even her extended family wasn’t comfortable with her sexual orientation. Pepa confronted Silvia’s parents and was killed by Daniel, Silvia’s stepfather. The trial took over a year to initiate and Daniel was eventually given just 14 years in prison. Pepa’s murder shows how hate crimes against women based on their sexuality still happen in liberal countries of Latin America and that they’re also forgotten or not punished sufficiently.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation ostracizes women and can take a toll on their mental well-being. They can immediately become homeless and lonely such as Pepa’s girlfriend. Studies have shown that urban and educated communities are more accepting of homosexuality. As I have stated in my other blogs, education is a powerful tool that buffers against health disparities and in this case can even prevent them.

Buenos Aires, Argentina recognizes the power of education and provided all healthcare workers with guides to stop discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation in hospitals. These workers have since gone to their homes and spread the knowledge that lead to their tolerance and acceptance. Small interventions like these initiate dialogue about something foreign and maybe even taboo as homosexuality and the knowledge gained eliminates the stigma.

 

1.http://pewglobal.org/files/pdf/258.pdf

2.http://mujeresenaccion.over-blog.es/article-argentina-cordoba-el-dia-que-la-lesbofobia-fue-un-arma-asesina-80529754.html

3.http://www.cascaraamarga.es/sociedad/56-sociedad/370-14-anos-de-prision-para-el-asesino-de-natalia-gaitan.html

4.http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1507725-reparten-una-guia-para-evitar-la-discriminacion-de-gays-y-transexuales

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7 comments

  1. Ben Rudolph says:

    This is a pretty sad case study. I almost feel like the vocal minority could be more dangerous in these kinds of situations. The people with lesbianofobia may feel backed into a corner and be even more likely to lash out. Not saying that it’s bad that they’re a minority just highlighting how hard it is to change culture.

  2. mraddawi says:

    Michelle, This post made me very sad. I knew that discrimination based on gender and sexual-orientation existed, but I never conceptualized the idea of “lesbianphobia” that results in murder. This reminded me of honor violence, in which a girl is murdered for her choice to divorce, receive an education, or pursue a relationship before marriage. It pains me to see that murder is so often resulting from a lack of freedom of choice for women–how can we promote freedom in every realm? Can we tie sexual orientation to the general women’s rights agenda as a matter of freedom of choice?

  3. Linh says:

    My blog was focused on the experiences of lesbians in different countries around the world, but I wasn’t able to include discussion on any South American countries, so I’m really happy you chose this as your topic this week. Overall, I agree, this issue is definitely one that does not receive as much attention as it deserves. Argentina atleast punished the perpetrator in the case you mentioned. In other countries such as South Africa, men who rape lesbians are sometimes considered town heroes because lesbianism is considered a disease requiring curing. Thankfully, the issue is starting to gain more awareness and I’m looking forward to learning about more intervention programs in the future, even if they are few and far between right now.

  4. sophia says:

    Hi Michelle, Thanks for the post. Stories of hate like this and reading of parents throw out their kids when they find they are LGBT is very sad. I think community-based interventions as the one you mentioned are very important. As others said, government-level changes also need to occur. It would be interesting to know what the laws are, and if there are double standards on murders when they have to do with sexual orientation. I’m curious as to whether lesbians face more discrimination than gay men, in which case they have some sort of triple jeopardy.

  5. sophia says:

    Hi Michelle, Thanks for the post. I think community-based interventions as the one you mentioned are very important. As others said, governmentlevel changes also need to occur. It would be interesting to know what the laws are, and if there are double standards on murders when they have to do with sexual orientation. I’m curious as to whether lesbians face more discrimination than gay men, in which case they have some sort of triple jeopardy.

  6. chierika says:

    Michelle,
    Great post. Lesbians are often forgotten in the women’s health arena because they have a lowered risk of HIV and they have more control of their reproductive choices. I think this post is important because it highlights the sad reality that lesbians in discriminatory communities could risk their lives. I think reforming the court system is an important step, but I also think there needs to be a large scale reform in thinking. I think there is an overwhelming majority of people that see lesbianism as more of a spectrum than being homosexual. In reading past blogs about lesbians, I’ve gotten the sense that they do not have the same validation as their male gay counterparts because people often think it is a phase. Definitely educating people about sexual orientation and the need to respect others is a great way to end discrimination.

  7. crennels says:

    This is such an awful story– but the reality is that these events, rooted in discrimination, happen worldwide at much higher rates than we would like to think about or admit. I think your point about dialogue being the jumping-off point for improvement is apt; if one person learns the tools to stop discrimination, they can share this information with their immediate community, hopefully creating a rippling effect.

    It seems like reform needs to happen in the court system as well, given the length of time it took to initiate a trial and the eventual lenient sentence. Will the precedent of this case make courts reconsider their approach in the future? Was there enough backlash to have this effect, or will cases such as these continue to be treated in the same way? If courts recognize and demonstrate that discrimination-based hate crimes like this one are unacceptable and will be punished harshly, the deterrent effect may be strengthened.

    Thank you for your post; even though this is an extremely sad topic, it is important to raise a consciousness of it. As you said, discriminatory acts pervade even societies considered to be more forward-thinking.

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