Could Colombia’s next president be a lesbian?

Senator Claudia Lopez Gutierrez, whose efforts have put 42 corrupt Congressmen behind bars, announces candidacy for the presidency, with the support of her partner, Congresswoman Angelica Lozano

Juan David Narváez R

16265729_1325589897487291_896539669233554688_nAfter several years of public service, including two years as a Congresswoman in Colombia, Claudia López Gutierrez decided it is time to run for President. She announced her candidacy earlier this month, and although winning will be tough (she faces some strong, popular opposition – including the current Vice President – and is running for the nomination of the minority Green Party) she and her girlfriend, Representative Angelica Lozano, decided to change their country’s history by raising their voices for LGBTI equality and against government corruption. Indeed, this power lesbian couple has made an impact simply by being a part of the country’s political spaces dominated by heterosexual men.

Claudia and Angelica both won seats in Congress a few years ago when corruption in government overshadowed the political landscape. People loved what they campaigned on – stopping corruption and advancing human rights, including LGBTI-inclusive policies – and voted widely for them. Claudia Lopez was the woman with the second highest number of votes in the contest, despite being a minority party candidate.

16265482_1329950877051193_4213312303616283426_nThey got to work on their agendas immediately after they won their elections. Due to their efforts, in part, President Juan Manuel Santos appointed LGBT leaders to his cabinet, choosing lesbians to run the Ministry of Commerce and and the Ministry of Education. Also, Claudia and Angelica’s ideas have had remarkable influence in Congress and the Constitutional Court.

In the two years since Claudia Lopez has been in office, marriage equality and adoption rights were approved by the Constitutional Court. By leading the charge, they have opened the doors for other LGBTI people to openly enter political life. And, in part due to their work, several politicians have been successfully prosecuted for corruption – in fact, 42 members of Congress that Claudia Lopez had previously denounced were sentenced to serve time in jail.

Few women have run for president in Colombia, but none have been openly-gay and some have even been homophobic conservatives. Claudia Lopez is the first lesbian presidential candidate. And while she would have to overcome several hurdles to actually win the presidency, there is nobody else that could be more appropriate to carry out an amazing campaign of peace and equality in my country – a campaign that includes LGBTI equality and women’s rights.

By making such a bold public statement, she will help shape public attitudes towards lesbian and gay people and increase tolerance considerably. Ten years ago it would have been impossible to think that an openly-gay man or woman could be president. Today we have a real gay candidate running and tomorrow, a lesbian just might be our president.

 

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