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Gay couple demand end to discrimination in Guadalajara bars

January 11, 2014

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Most people would not think twice about kissing their partner during a night out but on New Year’s Eve Pedro David Siordia Mora and Michael Grendell found themselves ejected from a Guadalajara nightclub for engaging in a modest display of public affection.

The security staff at Barezzito even called heavily armed police officers to ensure that the gay couple left the premises. Given that the Mexican Constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual preference the police officers should actually have told the security guards that what they were doing was illegal, but things do not always work that way in Mexico.

“We kissed a couple of times and the security guards told us that it wasn’t a gay bar and that we had to leave,” Siordia said. This was not an isolated incident, he noted.

“In other cases they’ve not let homosexual couples enter because they’ve been holding hands in the line,” he added, while “two months ago two girls were also thrown out of a bar called Planta Baja for kissing and holding hands.”

“This incident took me a little bit by surprise because I thought this bar seemed a little more upscale, where you’d have wealthy, better educated and more open minded patrons,” added Siordia’s boyfriend, Grendell, an English teacher from New York. “I think in Mexico appearances are a big thing. Everyone wants to be seen a certain way and look a certain way. This bar obviously has a certain image in mind and for whatever reason we didn’t fit that. But I would have expected a place like this to be more gay friendly.”

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Angered and upset at having suffered such blatant and illegitimate discrimination, Siordia filed complaints with the municipal and state governments, human rights organizations and Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco).

He also organised a peaceful protest outside the bar at 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 January. Around 30 demonstrators, including homosexual and heterosexual couples, gathered in the light rain to participate in a simultaneous, flash mob-style kiss and hand out flowers tagged with messages such as “respect,” “inclusion,” and “stop homophobia” to those entering Barezzito.

“We wanted a public apology and an end to discrimination against same-sex couples,” Siordia said. The protesters appear to have won the former, with the Barezzito staff pledging to issue a public apology via their social networks, but it remains to be seen whether there will be any change to the discrimination that LGBT couples suffer in many local bars and nightclubs.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth feature on the fight for LGBT rights in Guadalajara and across Mexico in the next week or two.

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