Killings of gays increase in Mexico, report says

MEXICO CITY – Killings of gays and lesbians have risen in Mexico despite a government tolerance campaign and a law legalizing same-sex marriage in the capital, according to a report released Thursday by a coalition of civic groups.

A review of more than 70 newspapers in 11 Mexican states found an average of nearly 30 killings a year motivated by homophobia between 1995 and 2000, compared to nearly 60 a year between 2001 and 2009, the report said.

Ricardo Bucio, president of the government’s National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination, backed the report, saying it gave visibility to a lingering problem.

The government launched a radio campaign in 2005 to promote tolerance of homosexuals.

In December, the Mexico City legislature approved the first law in Latin America explicitly giving gay marriages the same status as heterosexual ones. The legislation, affecting only the capital, also allows same-sex couples to adopt children.

Mexico City’s annual gay pride parade draws tens of thousands of people, and in some neighborhoods gays openly hold hands.

But violence against gays seems to have increased as more become public about their sexual orientation, said Alejandro Brito, director of Letter S, one of the groups that released the report.

Mexico City had the most homophobia-motivated killings, with 144 between 1995 and 2009, according to the report.

Despite the federal government’s push to promote tolerance, President Felipe Calderon’s conservative administration campaigned against the Mexico City law allowing same-sex marriage.

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