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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 8, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 10
Don't say the M-word - Anti-Gay slurs not protected speech, Mexican Supreme Court rules
Section One
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Don't say the M-word - Anti-Gay slurs not protected speech, Mexican Supreme Court rules

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A panel of Mexican Supreme Court justices ruled on March 6 that anti-Gay slurs like 'maricón' and 'puñal' are offensive, discriminatory, and not protected under the country's freedom of expression laws.

The court took up the case at the request of Justice Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea, who wrote the decision in a previous ruling supporting marriage equality. It involved two rival newspaper reporters in Puebla state who exchanged insults - essentially calling each other 'faggot' in print.

While the full text of the court's 3-2 decision will be released later, a court bulletin, translated by blogger Andres Duque, explains the reasoning of the majority.

DIFFICULT ISSUES RAISED
The court took the case to address 'the complex problem between freedom of expression and discriminatory manifestations - specifically homophobic expressions,' the announcement said.

'[I]n the opinion of the [Court], the language used to offend or disqualify certain groups gain the characteristic of being discriminatory ... In this sense, the [Court] determined that homophobic expressions - or, in other words, the frequent allegations that homosexuality is not a valid option but an inferior condition - constitute discriminatory statements even if they are expressed jokingly, since they can be used to encourage, promote, and justify intolerance against Gays ...

'For this reason, the [Court] determined that the terms used in this specific case - made up of the words 'maricónes' and 'puñal' - were offensive. These are expressions which are certainly deeply rooted in the language of Mexican society but the truth is that the practices of a majority of participants of a society cannot trump violations of basic rights.'

The Mexico City-based National Council to Prevent Discrimination described the court's decision as a 'substantive advance in the fight against homophobia in Mexico.'

Last month the court released a unanimous decision ordering the state of Oaxaca to recognize same-sex marriages. In that ruling, the Mexican Supreme Court cited a 2012 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights stating that Gays and Lesbians are protected from discrimination under international law.

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