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Elsa Patria Jiménez Flores
(1957 - living) Mexico

Patria Jiménez

Activist, and member of the Mexican Congress


Born in San Luis Potosí, Patria stands out in Mexico's Catholic, conservative, male-dominated society. Not only is she a woman, feminist and Zapatista activist. She is also Latin America's first openly gay MP, winning her seat in 1997 for the centre-left Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

"I waged a campaign focused particularly on the issue of gay and lesbian oppression. I held public meetings in a dozen different cities, I ploughed through Mexico's gay bars, meeting halls and so forth, presenting my candidacy and encouraging discussion."

Much needs to be done in the fight for equality: "There's a serious climate of intolerance, particularly in the police and judicial system. There have been several killings in which police were involved, in Chiapas state and elsewhere." But gay issues are talked about openly within the Chiapas-based Zapatista movement, she says.

A seasoned campaigner with a taste for outrage, she is also co-founder of a lesbian feminist group called "Sister Juana's Closet" - named after a seventeenth-century Mexican nun and poet, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz. Speaking at Tijuana's 1998 gay pride parade she said: "This march is... also a protest against homophobic, misogynist and genocidal governments... No-one will be free until all of us are free."


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