A former Mexican congressman has exhausted his legal appeals in his country after being found guilty of “gender-based political violence,” among other offenses, over his past tweets and Facebook messages.
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Rodrigo Iván Cortés took his case to the Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power on appeal and lost Wednesday, with the upholding of a lower court ruling.
The politician and advocate was fined $19,244.00 Mexican pesos ($1,134.58) and ordered by the appeals court to engage in what ADF International called “reparation measures,” demanding he publish a daily apology drafted by the court for 30 days.
And it doesn’t end there. He must also take a course on “gender-based political violence” and register with the National Registry of Persons Sanctioned in Political Matters against Women, the law firm noted.
Cortés called the judgment “gravely disappointing” and decried “suppression of speech and expression points to the demolition of democracy in Mexico.”
“I am committed to seeking justice and securing mine and every Mexican citizen’s right to freedom of speech,” he continued. “No laws should be used to silence or punish individuals for sharing their convictions, especially on issues of great importance. Peacefully expressing the truth of biological reality can never be a crime.”
In addition to gender-based political violence, Cortés was also found guilty of symbolic violence, digital violence, psychological violence, and sexual violence.
Cortés’ offense was reportedly calling Mexican Congressional representative Salma Luévano, who identifies as transgender, a “man who self-ascribes as a woman.” The social media posts in question were made by Fente Nacional por la Familia (“National Front for the Family”), Cortés’ advocacy group.
Luévano then filed a complaint against Cortés, claiming the right to be “acknowledged as a woman,” according to ADF International. Mexico’s Specialized Regional Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power ruled in Luévano’s favor, with the appeal validating that ruling.
Kristina Hjelkrem, an attorney for ADF International, said her client merely disagreed and isn’t guilty of a crime, despite the court’s ruling.
“Disagreement is not discrimination, and peaceful dissent should never be penalized as violence,” she said. “It is deeply disturbing that Cortés, who exercised his right to peaceably share his views on a matter of significant current debate, has been convicted as a violent offender when it is his opponents who are perpetuating unrest within Mexico’s political institutions.”
Cortés’ case started in September 2022, when Luévano was reportedly proposing legislation some worried would impede religious freedom by penalizing Christian teachings on sexuality as “hate speech.” When Cortés spoke out and critiqued the measures via social media, Luévano said his comments were problematic and denied Luévano’s identity and right to be seen as a woman.
Cortés isn’t the first politician to face such retribution, as sitting Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri was also accused of “gender-based political violence” over social media messages — a charge being challenged.
As for Cortés, he plans to take his case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a human rights body with a “mission … to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.”
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