Lima Mayor Susana Villarán will face a recall election in March, and her opponents are making her support for LGBT rights a central plank of their campaign. And they’re counting on evangelicals to oust her.
Last week, one of the leaders of the recall effort, Marco Tulio Gutiérrez, told a Peruvian magazine that evangelicals “do not agree with a mayor that participates in marches of transvestites and sissies [maricas], a pro-lesbian, pro-gay mayor…. Thanks to … evangelical churches’ pro-life and pro-family movements, everything has headed towards a good result.”
“We’re not homophobic,” he added. “But the state can’t take that [pro-LGBT] posture. That is going to be the banner of the [recall] campaign.”
(Gutiérrez doubled-down on his language in a subsequent interview.)
Villarán made headlines when she appeared in Lima’s gay pride march in 2011. And then she provoked an unexpected uprising from the city’s large evangelical community in 2011 when she backed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The sponsor of the nondiscrimination ordinance in the city’s legislature, Manuel Cardenas, told me that Villarán’s team had been caught entirely off guard by the strength of religious opposition to the proposal:
We did not think there was such a fundamentalist vision [in Lima]. We discovered that there was very fundamentalist thought… [Evangelical churches] had never shown such hardcore [fundamentalism]. Yes, we expected it from the Catholic church…. Really, we did not evaluate it. It was an error.
The recall election will take place on March 17, 2013. A recent poll found that 65 percent of Lima residents support the recall.