SANTIAGO – February 14, Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love. But for 24-year-old Carolina Torres, the day got a different turn. The young women suffered an alleged homophobic attack and found herself hospitalized. So far, there have been five homophobic attacks reported in Chile this year.
The young woman was hit with a stick on her head, which caused a fractured skull and an internal bleeding. According to Carolina’s mother, Mariela Urbina, the three attackers shouted ”maricona” (a local homophobic slur) at Carolina during the beating.
The attack happened in Pudahuel when Carolina walked home with her partner, Estefanía, after watching a football game. The “Iguales” foundation, a Chilean LGBT+ organization, commented that “Carolina is confused, does not know how to justify what happened”.
An arrest warrant has been issued for those responsible for the attack. Two brothers, Miguel and Reinaldo Cortés Arancibia have been identified by a witness. According to Bío-Bío news site, both accused have a criminal record.
President Piñera, via his Twitter account, said “We condemn and prosecute all aggressions, especially as the one suffered by Carolina Torres, gravely injured because of her sexual orientation.”
Condenamos y perseguiremos todas las agresiones, como la sufrida por Carolina Torres, quien está grave tras recibir brutales golpes por su orientación sexual. Todos merecemos vivir en paz, con dignidad, respeto y tolerancia. Solo así construiremos un Chile más inclusivo y mejor.— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) February 16, 2019
At the same time, the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Isabel Plá, condemned the attack, calling it “cowardly”. She added that “in the Chile we want, there is no justification for violence”.
“My daughter cannot walk freely on the streets”, said the mother of the young woman. She added that “in this country, you can not live freely”.
Dozens of homophobic attacks every year
The Movement of Homosexual Integration (Movilh), measures since 2002 attacks on the LGBT + community in Chile. This study shows that between 2002 and 2017, 2,430 homophobic attacks occurred in the country.
In 2017, there was a significant increase in homophobic discrimination, by 45%, as 484 cases were registered. This year, there have been 5 homophobic attacks in Chile, including the case of Carolina.
Oscar Rementería, a spokesperson for Movilh, tells Chile Today that “although people are becoming more aware of these issues, the attacks become increasingly violent”.
Iguales spokesperson Isabel Amor tells Chile Today that “these homophobic attacks will continue to happen, as long as we do not have an institutional framework, a short- medium- and long-term strategy from the state which is supported by civil society.”
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Violence despite Zamudio Law
Chile has an anti-discrimination law since 2012, known as the “Zamudio Law”, named after the young Daniel Zamudio, who died after a homophobic attack that same year.
But despite this law, cases of homophobic attacks have not subsided, leading the government to state that the law needs to be revised and updated.
Movilh`s Oscar Rementería agrees with that assessment. “We must prevent instead of trying to cure discriminatory acts“.
Nelson Quiroz is Chile Today´s photographer. He also writes about youth culture and fashion, and often contributes with photo series during marches and protests.