A little more than five decades after the first Pride march, there is still a yawning gap in political representation for LGBTQ+ people in Latin America. However, citizens are increasingly open to a more diverse democracy. This is reflected in the results of the study, LGBT+ in politics: perceptions of the electorate in Latin America among people from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, according to which 55% of respondents support the participation of LGBTQ+ people in political positions and are in favor of greater representation.
Commissioned by Luminate, the survey conducted by the Ipsos polling organization questioned 4,400 people in these four countries to identify Latin American citizens’ perceptions of LGBTQ+ people in politics. The results showed that with 59%, Brazil is the country with the highest support for representation, followed by Argentina, with 55%, and Colombia and Mexico, both with 51%.
Another finding is that 63% agree with LGBTQ+ people running for and holding public office, and only 9% indicated that they would not vote for an LGBTQ+ person for president of their country. Although there are already some individual cases of LGBTQ+ women representatives or mayors in the surveyed countries, the “representation is not even close to what experts expect in terms of proportionality,” Felipe Estefan, Luminate’s vice president for Latin America, said in a recent interview. The study notes, however, that 63% believe that diversity of voices, which includes LGBTQ+ people, is an essential aspect of a democracy. “The version of democracy that people hope to see in the future includes all colors of the rainbow,” Estefan adds.
The study also revealed that “support for LGBTQ+ representation in politics is driven by a belief in the value of equality for all people, and not necessarily by a recognition of the unique contributions of the LGBTQ+ community in public office.” However, within sexual diversity candidacies, specific challenges such as inequalities, violence and discrimination persist. “It is trans people who face the greatest resistance from the electorate in all four countries,” the survey notes. Of the sample, 49% said they were completely comfortable with transgender people taking public office in their countries. For lesbians, the result was 53%; and for gay men, 52%.
On the other hand, 60% of respondents support the implementation of agendas that promote equality, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of those in power. And 47% of respondents fully or partially agree that the lack of LGBTQ+ political representation is harmful to the protection of LGBTQ+ rights. Argentina is at variance with this fact, as 70% believe that it is not necessary to have LGBTQ+ representatives in power to make advances in the protection of that community’s rights.
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