80,000 March for LGBT Equality in Santiago, Chile

Over 80,000 people took to the streets in Chile’s Marcha por la Igualdad y los Derechos Humanos de la Diversidad Sexual (March for Equality and Human Rights for Sexual Diversity) this past Saturday, June 23. That impressive number ranks between the two largest student protests of the year.  Yet a friend’s facebook post put that number into perspective and caused me to reflect more deeply on the situation.  To paraphrase, she said that there should have been 15 million people marching, because this is something about which everyone in her country should be concerned.

Obviously, she didn’t literally expect every single Chilean to march for LGBT equality.  That would be unrealistic.  And 80,000 is a remarkable number.  But the larger message in her brief facebook post is very poignant: that all Chileans (and I would add, all citizens of the world) should be concerned about LGBT equality—by treating LGBT with respect; by teaching their children that LGBT people are no different than heterosexual people; by refusing to participate in and/or support discriminatory practices in the workplace; and by realizing that in general, we should treat our fellow human beings with decency regardless of sexual preference, race, color, creed, ethnicity, sex, gender, or any other category we can invent to set us apart and create the illusion that one group has some sort of natural power and superiority over the other.

As a U.S. citizen living in a country where the subject of LGBT rights has been on the forefront in the past few months with the vicious murder of Daniel Zamudio in March and the passing of the anti-discrimination law in April (seven years after it was proposed), I am glad to see that 80,000 people marched in support of a more just, safer, and more humane Chile.  It also makes me think of my own country, and I hope that one day, all 313 million people in the U.S. will support the full and equal rights of their fellow U.S. citizens of the LGBT community.

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