Mexico Sets the Tone on Hate Speech

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Mexico Sets the Tone on Hate Speech

Homophobic epithets are so pervasive across the globe that most heterosexual people are sadly unaware of the psychological and physical toil they have on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. Too often and cavalierly these epithets go either unchecked or unchallenged as hate speech.

Mexico, however, has stepped forward to define and reduce homophobic hate speech. Two commonly used words—"punal" and "maricones" are the main targets. Both words closely translate as "faggot."

On March 6, in a vote of 3-2, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that these two homophobic hateful slurs are not legally protected in the country's constitution as freedom of speech. The Supreme Court further ruled that any citizen offended by these words now could seek redress by suing for moral damages.

"Even though they are deeply rooted expressions in Mexican society, the fact is that the practices of the majority of society can't validate the violations of basic right," the Court wrote in support of its ruling.

The LGBTQ communities across Mexico are, no doubt, ecstatic by the ruling, hoping it will engender more respect and consciousness of their struggle. But as most LGBTQ Latinos know these two homophobic epithets are so frequently and easily espoused throughout Latin American culture that many are not cognizant of their deleterious effect.

Case in point: Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended last September for three games for wearing eye-black displaying a homophobic slur written in Spanish during a game against the Boston Red Sox.

With the phrase "TU ERE MARICON" (sic) written in his eye-black, the phrase can be loosely translated as "You are a faggot" or "You're a weak girl."

“It didn’t have significance to the way that’s being interpreted right now,” Escobar emphatically stated through a Spanish interpreter. “That’s not the significance that I put into it. That’s a word used often within teams. It’s a word without meaning, the way we use it.”

Escobar, a native of Cuba, contested that the phrase is taken out of contest because used in his culture it is not intended to be offensive; it's merely used as banter in their friendly repartee.

“I have friends who