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LGBTQ RIGHTS

Anti-transgender bus arrives in Chile amid protests and scuffles

A pro-gay rights movement fleets its own bus to counter the message from the Spanish ultra-Catholic group Hazte Oír

After controversial tours through both Spain and the United States, a bus-based anti-transgender campaign being run by Spain’s ultraconservative Catholic group Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard) has received a stormy welcome in Santiago de Chile.

Hazte Oir
A protestor is arrested in Santiago on Monday. AFP

Seven people were arrested during demonstrations that saw police use water cannon against protesters trying to halt the progress of the vehicle at the center of the controversial campaign.

Meanwhile, Chile’s Movement for Homosexual Liberation (MOVILH), which backs gay marriage in the country, made its own statement by rolling out its own blue bus as a form of counter campaign.

The Hazte Oír vehicle’s debut in the Chilean capital was organized by a coalition of conservative Christian groups

The Hazte Oír vehicle’s debut in the Chilean capital was organized by a coalition of conservative Christian groups including CitizenGO, the larger organization to which Hazte Oír belongs. The vehicle – dubbed the “Freedom bus” on the Chilean leg of its tour – bore the slogan “Nicolas has the right to both a mother and a father” – a clear reference to a 2014 campaign by MOVILH under the banner “Nicolas has two fathers,” according to Chilean television station T13.

Several groups had called on the government of the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to ban the campaign, but the controversial bus was finally allowed to take to the roads.

The bus in New York.
The bus in New York.

Government spokesperson Paula Narváez noted several days ago that the campaign promoted intolerance. “Instead of being called the Freedom Bus, it should be called the intolerance bus,” she said.

In an interview with T13 Radio, Teresa García, spokesperson for Hazte Oir, argued the group’s aim was to “denounce government policies and laws that oblige children to be brought up according to certain emotional and sexual norms.”

“Parents have the right to decide on this upbringing, not governments,” she added.

The group’s aim is to “denounce government policies that oblige children to be brought up according to certain emotional and sexual norms”

Hazte Oír originally launched its bus campaign in Spain in response to a public awareness campaign run by the Basque advocacy group Chrysallis Euskal Herria, an association of families with transgender children. The group used the slogan “There are girls with penises and boys with vulvas,” in a poster campaign funded by a mystery New York donor.

But the bright orange bus used by the ultraconservative Catholic group was banned from the roads in Madrid with authorities saying it could constitute a hate crime. The campaign vehicle was later pelted with eggs as it made its way across Spain while one woman was reportedly injured while trying to block its progress.

In New York, the vehicle was dubbed the “Hate bus” with Chelsea Clinton among those lining up against the campaign whose organizers say they are defending free speech.

English version by George Mills.

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