On 7 November, members of Congress, mainly belonging to Fuerza Popular, put forward a bill to banish from the lexicon of the state all reference to the word ‘gender’. The move has provoked criticism even in the conservative press.

As readers of the Newsletter will recall, the attempt to root out what is sometimes called ‘the ideology of gender’ is one of the demands of ultra-conservatives, especially those with close links to the Catholic and evangelical churches, with respect to sex education. This was one of the issues that brought down Jaime Saavedra, the respected education minister two years ago.

The group known as Con Mis Hijos No Te Metes (Don’t Mess With My Kids) organised a march on 15 November to rally public support for the bill before Congress. A number of FP congressmen were present. This organisation has become a very vocal pressure group.

Even El Comercio is concerned that banning a word from all official language is dangerous for democracy because it closes down the free discussion of ideas.

Whether the bill prospers through Congress remain to be seen. Despite their current problems, Fuerza Popular and their allies in APRA still have a majority of seats.

The ‘gender approach’ (enfoque de genero) is designed to highlight equality of opportunity between men and women and to get rid of popular prejudices regarding sexuality and sexual orientation in a country where these tend to be culturally embedded. It is also designed to highlight violence against women. So far this year, 120 killings of women (feminicidos) have been reported by the Defensoría del Pueblo. The majority of LGBTI report that they have been victims of discrimination and harassment.