This past Saturday (November 7) was the 20th gay pride parade in Buenos Aires. An estimated total of 150,000 participants and spectators marched from the Plaza de Mayo all the way down Avenida de Mayo, to end up at the Plaza de los dos Congresos, the plaza in front of the national congress. There were at least a dozen different trucks filled with people, many inebriated and in costume, blasting music and waving to the crowd. There were dozens of people in outrageous outfits, in ten-inch platforms, fishnet body suits, wigs and elaborate hair pieces.
Buenos Aires used to be ranked one of the top gay-friendly cities in the world, and I think it still is—gay-friendly, that is. Legally gay couples have the right to get married in all of Argentina since July of 2010. Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage. I would say all of the Americas, but Canada was way ahead—they legalized gay marriage in 2005, becoming the fourth country in the world to legalize gay marriage! Damn Canadians. Same sex civil unions are allowed in several states in the US and in Mexico, but Argentina remains the only country to legally recognize it on a national level.
Argentina’s gay marriage law also includes adoption rights, inheritance protection, shared custody responsibilities and social security coverage for same-sex couples. I am by no means Argentino but can’t help but to feel a sort of pride and admiration towards the extent of Argentina’s “progressiveness.” Basically Argentina is the only country in Latin America that guarantees the above-mentioned rights to gay couples. It joins other countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Iceland in protecting such rights.
The march was fun and overall festive. I mean, the progress of gay rights in Argentina merits celebrating. When the annual march began in 1993, there were only about 300 participants, and apparently many wore masks out of fear. It is inspiring that with just a few hundred people could summon the courage to march at a time when gay marriage and adoption was pretty much unthinkable.
But it’s not all over. Even now, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgendered persons still haven’t given up the fight. Most of the signs I saw during the march were for a “gender identity law,” Ley de Identidad de Genero, as well as the legalization of abortion. The gender identity law would basically allow for transgendered and transsexual folks to change their name and sex on legal documentation (documento—the ID in Argentina, and/or passport). Though various celebrities (for example, Florencia de la V) have indeed changed their names and sex on their official ID, the law would essentially lock down the respect for trans-rights.
Whether you are visiting or living in Buenos Aires, the gay pride parade is definitely recommended. It is a fun, joyous and for many, a blurry, event that lasts for about… six hours. It really warmed my heart to see so many diverse groups of people (transsexuals, transvestites, lesbians, gays, straight people) come together to support each other and celebrate all the progress made in Argentina.