(WB) The first openly gay man elected to Colombia’s congress says his agenda “speaks for all Colombians.”
“My agenda is not only an agenda for the LGBTI community,” Mauricio Toro told the Washington Blade on Wednesday during a WhatsApp interview from Bogota, the Colombian capital. “They are also business owners. They are also students.”
Toro, 36, is a business owner who was elected to the Colombian House of Representatives on March 11 as a member of the center-left Green Alliance party with 19,045 votes. He is one of the 14 openly LGBTI congressional candidates who ran in the country’s national elections.
Toro’s campaign website notes his platform includes promoting entrepreneurship, increasing access to higher education and fighting corruption. Toro also says he will defend marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in Colombia, work to reduce rates of anti-LGBTI violence and murders in the country and seek to expand access to health care that specifically addresses the needs of LGBTI Colombians.
Toro told the Blade that transgender Colombians remain particularly susceptible to discrimination and mistreatment from health care providers.
“There are specific needs and they don’t understand that,” he said.
Angélica Lozano, a bisexual congresswoman with the Green Alliance who is the first openly LGBTI person elected to the Colombian congress, on March 11 was elected to the country’s Senate with 105,700 votes.
Tatiana Piñeros, an openly trans woman who was a member of former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro’s cabinet, ran for the Senate with Lista de la Decencia, a coalition of leftist parties. Piñeros did not win, but she received 5,671 votes.
Members of the center-right Democratic Center party on March 11 formally chose Iván Duque as their candidate to succeed President Juan Manuel Santos. Members of the leftist Progressive Movement party also nominated Petro, which he founded, as their presidential candidate.
The country’s presidential elections will take place on May 27. The second round will take place on June 17 if no candidate receives a majority of votes.
The March 11 elections are the first to have taken place since Santos’ government signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The agreement allowed FARC, which is now a political party, to participate in the election. Former President Álvaro Uribe, who founded the Democratic Center party in 2013, is among those who strongly oppose the agreement and FARC’s participation in the country’s political process.
Toro said he supports the peace agreement. He also noted FARC’s participation in the national elections “is a moment to see what is possible.”
“Colombians need to look forward because they can’t look back,” Toro told the Blade. “We endured more than 50 years of one of the most violent conflicts in Latin America.”
— Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.