A former Mexican congressman who was fined, forced to apologize, and punished by a court of law for calling a trans-identifying politician a “man who self-describes as a woman” is refusing to back down.
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Rodrigo Iván Cortés lost his appeal last month before the Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power, with the court upholding a lower bench ruling.
Cortés, reportedly fined 19,244 Mexican pesos, forced to apologize on social media, and sent to re-education classes, is planning to take his case to an international court to defend his rights.
“The self-evident truth is that a man can never be a woman,” he said, calling his punishment “deeply unjust.” “I’m going to make this a public point … and follow the international path in this issue.”
Cortés was accused of gender-based political violence for his comments on social media. He said the entire ordeal was sparked after he criticized a bill by a transgender legislator he said was aimed at “punishing people of faith and ministers” even “if they quote the Bible.”
“I express[ed] my rejection to that bill, because it was going to be an attempt against the religious freedom,” Cortés said. “I explained that this is a very important issue.”
Watch the former Mexican congressman tell his story:
Cortés took to social media to call the transgender legislator a man who self-describes as a woman – and that’s when he found himself at the center of a legal quagmire, with the offended legislator and others reportedly using the legal system against Cortés.
“After that message that was transmitted by Twitter and Facebook was the elements of these suing and demanding,” he said. “And it was something shocking, because the freedom of expression, the democratic debate was crushed by this suing and this demand.”
Tomás Henríquez, director of advocacy for Latin America and the Caribbean with ADF International, a conservative legal firm, told CBN’s Faithwire there is a “global trend” surrounding the violation of freedom of expression and related restrictions.
According to Henríquez, these crackdowns go “well beyond what is allowed by international human rights law” and stifle public debate.
“My reaction was that I was not entirely surprised, although there are certain specific features of this case that are still very surprising and I would say shocking,” he said, charging people are using the Mexican legal system to silence political opponents.
The problem, Henríquez argued, goes quite deep, and has become embedded in the law.
“The mere fact that you would question today in Mexico that a male who identifies as a woman is not truly a woman has become unlawful and this has been the decision that has been upheld by the courts over time,” he said. “They are depriving people the ability to participate in what is the most relevant and central debates of our times, which is really a question of what is truth — what is a woman?”
Cortés’ case also comes with some bizarre punishments, including what he called “public humiliation” and brainwashing, as he is being implored to take programs that would “deconstruct” his current beliefs about gender. Plus, the ramifications could mean he’s unable to be elected again to public office.
The ordeal also comes with a demand he register with the National Registry of Persons Sanctioned in Political Matters against Women, according to ADF International.
“With respect to the registry … the whole point here is to create a sort of blacklist of humiliation for those that have been convicted,” Henríquez said. “And you’re putting in the same vein people that have quite literally been convicted of violent, physical aggression against women with others that, like Rodrigo, have simply voiced our opposition to a political agenda.”
ADF International is currently working on a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with eventual hopes of getting the case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
“Our hope is … that justice will be served for Rodrigo and for all others that are like himself in this situation being deprived of their fundamental rights,” Henríquez said. “And their right to stand and speak for truth.”
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