Thousands of Mexican demonstrators took to the streets in the border state of Coahuila on Sunday to protest new legislation allowing same-sex marriage and voice their support for what they called “traditional marriage,” defined as a union between a man and a woman.
Protestors in the city of Saltillo, the capital of northern Coahuila state, said they wanted to express their disapproval of recent legislation passed in Coahuila supporting marriage equality, and hoped that divine intervention would help change the minds of people in the state and Mexico as a whole, where acceptance of same-sex marriage continues to gain support.
The march, which promoted itself with the slogan “Rescuing the Family,” was organized by the pastor Carlos Pacheco, who heads up the Cristo Vive Association, a center that offers free services and aid to people battling addiction.
Pacheco said the goal of the march was to “say to Saltillo that what is correct and approved by God is a family with a man and a woman, and anything else is an attack on the family.”
The pastor, who led the march carrying a large Bible, was surrounded throughout the event by a large team of bodyguards.
Supporters passed out pamphlets touting the organization’s success in helping people who previously identified as gay or lesbian through a “rehabilitation” process. These people, according to the promotional material, are now “part of happy marriages, as God established from the beginning.”
According to organizers, as many as 48,000 people participated in the demonstration, while officials with the municipal Civil Protection System put the total at somewhere between 8,000 and 12,000.
Coahuila’s state congress passed legislation allowing same-sex marriage at the beginning of September, making it the first Mexican state to approve marriage equality.
Mexico City has also approved laws allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Latin America leads UN resolution against homophobic violence
The Mexico protest comes just a few days after a number of Latin American countries introduced a resolution to the United Nations human rights entity that aims to combat violence targeting LGBT individuals. The document, which Human Rights Watch called a “landmark” resolution, condemns violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the resolution by a 25-14 vote, following more than an hour of debate and strong opposition from Russia and countries in Africa and the Middle East.
In a somewhat surprising development, the strongest support for the resolution came from the traditionally Catholic countries of Latin America, with Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay responsible for drafting and introducing the document to the council.
Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela also added their support to the resolution, making it a clean sweep for approval among Latin American nations on the council.
Advocacy groups in Latin American applauded widespread government support for the resolution as an important symbolic step toward equal rights, but pointed out that many of these countries still have high rates of discrimination and violence against members of the LGBT community.