By Carlos T. Mock, MD
As the United States moves to the right and religious fervor is taking over our country, our neighbors to the South are reacting differently. Once isolated from the rest of the world, and controlled by the Catholic Church, they are now finding themselves connected via the Internet and able to organize against archaic penal codes.
Case in point: CEPRESI, the Nicaraguan group that is fighting to decriminalize sodomy in the Central American Republic. The Nicaraguan Penal code was revised in 1992 and section 204 provides for three years of jail time for any sodomy act, even in the privacy of one's home.
Through the auspices of GLAAD, CEPRESI is organizing their first major Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade and Festival. Amazingly enough, their biggest hurdle was not the penal code, but rather where to get a gay flag. Nowhere in Nicaragua are you able to buy a Gay Rainbow flag. When Anibal Jose Martinez, member of CEPRESI, told this to GLAAD, they were referred to us at the Pink Agenda, the travel Web site here in Chicago ( www.pinkagenda.com ) . After several e-mails back and forth, we at the Pink Agenda decided to donate a five-by-eight-foot Rainbow flag for their parade.
Getting it there was another story. Nicaragua is a country where addresses are still measured by how many meters you live from the main building in town. The Flag was sent, but because one word was missing from the address, it was returned. One phone call later to Managua, I spoke with Anibal Jose, corrected the mistake and the flag was back on its way. It took two weeks but they got it.
Forget the fact that they may be arrested for marching, forget the fact that the police may raid their festival; they are ready to go. When Amigas Latinas and ALMA heard about this, they decided that they also wanted to help. As we speak, they are collecting small rainbow flags so that each and every one of the marchers can carry one of their own.
Latinos here in Chicago who, most of the time, take for granted the rights that have been obtained through a long struggle here in our state, tend to forget that our brothers and sisters south of the border are still fighting. Even though homosexuality is still a criminal offence in Nicaragua, on June 24, 2005 in the city of Masaya, Nicaragua ( near Managua, the capital ) , a festival titled 'Festival Cultural Nicaraguense por la diversidad sexual' ( Nicaraguan cultural festival for sexual diversity ) will go on from 2-9 p.m. I encourage all the Latinos here in Chicago to help our brothers in Nicaragua. E-mail them, give them your support, and help them grow, so that some day they will be able to enjoy the same rights we have here in the state of Illinois.
CEPRESI Contact Information
Lic. Norman Gutierrez Morgan
Bosques de Altamira del Banco de la Producción a 1/2 cuadra arriba
casa #69 letra B
011 - ( 505 ) 270-0652
Mock is the author of Borrowing Time: A Latino Sexual Odyssey—Floricanto Press 2003. Nominated for a Stonewall Award by the American Library Association Round Table.
See www.pinkagenda.com .