Santiago – The anti-transgender bus, known worldwide as the “Free Speech Bus,” returns next Monday to Chile. The bus will travel through Santiago and Valparaíso. Various organizations reject its arrival, due to the disorders it caused in 2017.
A little over three years ago, a bus-based anti-transgender campaign run by Spain’s ultraconservative Catholic group Hazte Oír (“Make Yourself Heard”) rumbled across the Western Hemipshere where it “received a stormy welcome in Santiago” and other locations.
The bus, known as the Bus de La Libertad (“Freedom Bus”) in Chile, and as the “Free Speech Bus” internationally, is hard to miss: it is bright orange and plastered with slogans, such as “Boys have penises. Girls have vulvas. Don’t be fooled.”
It returns to Santiago on Monday, Nov. 23. In an interview with 24 Horas, Marcela Aranda, director of the Observatorio Legislativo Cristiano (“Christian Legislative Observatory”), the spokesperson and main promoter of the “Free Speech Bus” in Chile, underscored what she believes is the importance of this return: “The objective is to proclaim what is true in light of the facts.”
Additionally, Aranda expressed hope that the freedom of speech and assembly would be respected and protected, alluding to the disorder the last time the bus came to the city.
"I have the right to a mum and a dad" "if you're born a man, you are a man" are among the homophobic, transphobic phrases on the controversial "Bus de la Libertad" debuted by ultra-conservative groups in Chile 2017. Today they announced plans to bring it back to Chile's streets pic.twitter.com/UMavrw7S0R
— Charis McGowan (@charis_mcgowan) November 16, 2020
In 2017, the bus’s arrival was seen as a stick in the eye to those who supported Chile’s then-recent gender identity law and approval of adoptions by same-sex couples. Among the bus’s other slogans at that time were “Don’t mess with my children” and “Less state, more family,” a direct response to these measures.
Several confrontations occurred in the streets between members of ultra-Catholic organizations and people from the LGTBQ community. Nine people were arrested and several injured.
Many organizations and individuals condemn the campaign behind the bus, accusing it of generating discrimination and circulating hate speech.
The Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (MOVILH), for example, describes the campaign as the “Bus of Hate.” Through social networks, MOVILH is planning a counter-campaign, known as “the crush of buses,” featuring a similar bus that expresses the opposite message.