Activist Franco Fuica has been a dedicated voice for the Trans community in Chile and beyond for many years, but it was the tragic loss of a member of the queer community that put a fire under him to do more.
A member of the Trans community himself, the activist was interviewed as part of the United Nations video campaign, Diversity in Adversity, which highlights and celebrates queer human rights defenders and activists around the globe and shares the incredible work they do.
Seated in what seems to be a peaceful outdoor space, Franco shares during the interview, “I chose to speak in this location because this is the park in Santiago City where in 2012 a hate crime was committed in which Daniel Zamudio was attacked. He was one of the most important, most transcendent victims the LGBTIQ community has had… His painful death allowed for the fast tracking of the anti-discrimination law.”
The anti-discrimination law was the first law in Chile to recognise not only sexual orientation but also gender identity.
Franco himself was not safe from discrimination when he came out as Trans, as well as being attacked by a group of people, he was also kicked out of his university “under the pretext that I would molest children”.
Franco refused to let this discrimination dictate the shape his life would take. With his work focusing on influencing law and public policy, over the years, he has been actively involved in the establishment of Chile’s Gender Identity Law, has been a part of several international civil society networks and is currently the leader of the grassroots organisation OTD Chile (Organizing Trans Diversidades Chile).
Over the course of the engrossing conversation, Franco describes the difficulties in dealing with a government who are ignorant of the issues the Trans community face. He argues that if there is no understanding, there is no drive to make change. The lack of training of police officers, health workers, or educators on Trans issues means that the community’s needs aren’t being met.
These problems are being exacerbated by the rise in attacks from ultra conservative fundamentalist groups and members of parliament seeking to limit the rights of queer people.
So where does he suggest a solution lies? In the support of activists doing work for the community, because as he explains, “Many Trans people that do activism do it at their own cost They go to dangerous neighbourhoods, often getting there by their own means.”
Franco goes on to share the importance of representation and speaking out – “There are people and public figures who are Trans in different parts of the Americas and the world that can spread messages of hope.
“I think this is the first thing that is needed or even required in order to have a law on gender identity – empowerment of Trans people.”
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