Prosecution of lawmakers for 'misgendering' politician raises concerns about free speech in Mexico

 Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri
Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri | ADF International

WASHINGTON — Two Mexican leaders accused of “gender-based political violence” after referring to a trans-identifying lawmaker as a man warned about the suppression of speech and religious rights in their country.

The Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom International hosted the Standing Up for Biological Reality panel on Tuesday to address concerns about freedom of expression in Mexico. 

The panel consisted of Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri, Civil Society Leader Rodrigo Iván Cortés and ADF International’s director of advocacy for Latin America & Caribbean, Tomás Henríquez. Both Quadri and Cortés were charged and convicted for sharing their opinions about trans ideology on social media, and ADF International is supporting the pair.

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Nina Shea, a human rights attorney and director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank, served as moderator for the discussion and warned that hate speech laws are often “vaguely defined” and that what is happening in Mexico could also occur in the United States. 

Addressing the panelists, Shea started with Cortés, asking him to explain what he did that was considered offensive. The former Mexican congressman and head of the political advocacy group Frente Nacional por la Familia (National Front for the Family) recounted how he was charged with "gender-based political violence" following a series of social media posts in 2022. 

In the posts, Cortés allegedly “misgendered” Salma Luévano, a male Mexican congressional representative who identifies as a woman. Cortés had published the posts in response to a draft bill presented in Mexico’s Congress by Luévano that would categorize teaching Christian views on sexuality as “hate speech.” 

Cortés recalled during the panel that Luévano had dressed in drag while presenting the bill, another point of criticism he brought up in his social media posts. The former Mexican congressman also referred to Luévano by using masculine terms, prompting the trans-identified representative to file a complaint over what he claimed violated the right to be acknowledged as a woman and a "denial of identity."

Mexico's Specialized Regional Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power convicted Cortés of gender-based political violence and digital, symbolic, psychological and sexual violence against Luévano. 

The former congressman contended that the double sentence was to punish him for telling the truth, quoting a phrase about how the first “casualty” in war is truth. He also shared that the tribunal had accused him of "trans misogyny," a term he argued does not exist in any law in Mexico.

As Cortés explained, two of the sentences in the regional court have been appealed in the Superior Chamber in Mexico. 

Henríquez added that the case has been tabled for a later date following ADF International filing a request for recusal against two judges due to concerns about their ability to remain impartial. 

ADF International is also supporting Quadri through a similar case, as he was convicted as a “political violator against women” for voicing opposition on social media to men who identify as women taking seats in Congress designated for biological women. Luévano also filed a complaint against Quadri, accusing him of “gender-based political violence.” 

During the panel, Quadri noted how his eligibility to run for office again has been hindered due to having to register as a “trans oppressor.” The Mexican congressman warned that the “trans establishment” has political power in Mexico. 

Regarding his case, Quadri noted that it was surprising that he did not receive support from the Catholic Church following the charges and eventual conviction against him. Henríquez then clarified that members of the clergy in Mexico cannot urge congregants not to vote for certain bills and that the Catholic Church could face criminal liability for speaking against the laws of the republic.

Following the panel, Henríquez echoed Shea’s warning at the start of the discussion in an interview with The Christian Post, asserting that ideas can spread throughout the world. While he acknowledged that in the United States, the First Amendment typically acts as a barrier to laws that appear to “enshrine” protection from offense as a “legal right,” damage can still occur before such laws eventually fall.

“And that's why I think that it's useful and necessary for everybody to be aware that this is where the cultural trends around the world are going towards, and there's no reason to think this is not going to make an attempt to become a reality in the U.S., even if the Supreme Court eventually actually does stop everything,” he said. 

In terms of combating the issue of transgenderism, Henríquez advised everyone to remain aware of where “lines in the sand are being drawn,” adding that for Mexico and Latin America, this might come down to the legal landscape and whether it protects freedom of expression and religion. 

“The chilling effect is real,” Henríquez said. “And an important part of our work is trying to prevent that chilling effect from taking hold so that individuals, families will be able to speak out and shape the culture in the way that they would want to shape it, as opposed to just being victims of somebody else shaping it for them.” 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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