Former Mexican congressman convicted of ‘political violence’ for ‘misgendering’ online

By Jonathon Van Maren

Rodrigo Iván Cortés is a former Mexican congressman and leads the socially conservative political advocacy organization Frente Nacional por la Familia (National Front for the Family, FNF). He is also the latest target of transgender activists over Twitter posts in September 2022, in which Cortés relates his concerns with a recent bill proposed in the Mexican Congress by Salma Luévano, a politician who identifies as transgender. 

The bill, Cortés noted, could render many Christian views on sexuality illegal.  

Luévano has filed a formal complaint against Cortés, claiming a violation of his right to be addressed as a woman and a “denial of identity” because Cortés referred to him as “a man who self-ascribes as a woman.” He was convicted by a Mexican court on the grounds of “gender-based political violence” and “digital, symbolic, psychological, and sexual violence” merely for using male pronouns on Twitter and Facebook in his responses to Luévano. He has appealed the case to the Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power. 

It is sadly ironic that Cortés was convicted by Mexico’s Specialized Regional Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power for “undermining the political and electoral rights of women, and the unencumbered exercise of their public office” for nine social media posts in which he was objecting to proposed legislation on the basis that it could undermine free speech. The bill FNF was protesting would, according to ADF International, “penalize the propagation of Christian teaching on sexuality as a form of ‘hate speech’” and was presented by Luévano wearing the vestments of a Catholic bishop in order to intentionally provoke Mexico’s large Christian population. 

Cortés has also appealed to the Organization of American States (OAS) over the “systematic violations of fundamental rights” being perpetrated against him. “[In Mexico] the freedom of expression is canceled and their free participation in the democratic conformation of laws is prevented,” he stated. “Unfortunately, I suffer this in my own flesh in the cases that are carried out against me and the organization that I preside over, the National Front for the Family, for objecting to initiatives that ostensibly violate human rights.”  

According to a statement from Kristina Hjelkrem, legal counsel for ADF International: 

Disagreement is not discrimination, and peaceful dissent should never be penalized as violence. It is deeply disturbing that Cortés, who is exercising his right to peaceably share his views on a matter of significant current debate, has been convicted as a violent political offender when in fact it is his opponents that have a history of perpetuating unrest within Mexico’s political institutions. We eagerly await a ruling on his appeal.

Cortés’ accusers, ADF noted, have a long track record of political activism targeting Mexico’s Christians: 

Luévano, together with transgender identifying representative María Clemente, is known for various incidents in Mexico’s Congress, including arguing with Congressman Gabriel Quadri on the question of transgender identity (whom Luévano has likewise sued); insisting on the Congressman’s expulsion; and supporting the physical forcing out of the chairman of the session from his seat over the matter. Clemente also prompted international outrage by tweeting explicit videos of Clemente’s own ‘sex work,’ citing a right to freely share this kind of content on digital platforms.  Luévano and Clemente are members of the MORENA party, which has promoted constitutional amendments to enshrine ‘sexual rights,’ without age distinctions, which would include minors; a proposal that the FNF criticized in one of the social media posts.


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