Gay-rights organisations, politicians and the singer Ricky Martin have all condemned a brutal homophobic attack on a 24-year-old man, Daniel Zamudio.
Santiago de Chile - The attack – which happened at the weekend in Chile’s capital city, Santiago – is thought to have been carried out by neo-Nazis after swastikas were found carved on the young man’s body.
Zamudio is being treated at Santiago’s Posta Central Hospital, where he remains in critical condition in ICU after being put under a medically induced coma and on mechanical ventilation by doctors. However, the hospital’s director, Dr Emilio Villalon says he is responding well despite the seriousness of his injuries, “presenting intracerebral damage, severe trauma and a fractured tibia and fibula in his right leg, [Daniel’s] evolution has been favourable and it seems he will improve.” Villalon added that the young man’s condition was no longer life-threatening.
Fundacion Iguales, a leading Chilean gay-rights organisation, issued a statement, which included the following call on the country’s ruling authorities: “We condemn this cruel act that tramples the equal dignity of all human beings. We ask the Chilean authorities to become part of legal actions designed to punish the guilty. A crime of this hatefulness can not go unpunished. We ask further that bring urgency to the Anti-Discrimination Act, to provide protection to all citizens regardless of race or ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, ideology or political opinion, religion or belief, trade union membership or participation in trade associations or lack of them, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, affiliation, personal appearance, illness or disability.”
Another gay-rights activist told CNN that they were distributing Zamudio’s photograph (see above left) in the hope that witnesses would come forward. “We are very worried because it is not the first time that such brutal expression of violence takes place in the country. This is a consequence of the Chilean government’s lax attitude in tolerating Neo-Nazi groups,” he said.
Bikya Masrreports that relatives of Zamudio claimed the out-gay man had previously received death threats from neo-Nazi groups because of his being homosexual, and that on “a previous occasion, he had been kept on watch by a suspect group, outside a club in Santiago”.
Bikya Masralso reports that Chilean bloggers have warned through their Internet posts that “a good number of LGBT youth have been beaten in the past by such groups in downtown Santiago and left wounded in the street, without anyone doing anything to protect or defend them”.
The Santiago Times, meanwhile, interviewed Jaime Parada, the spokesperson for Movilh – Movimiento Chileno de Minorias Sexuales (Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation). He told the paper, “This was a completely irrational action done by a group of very sick people [...] this is a very grave situation. It’s very sad for society.”
Zamudio’s parents, Ivan and Jacqueline, also spoke to the Santiago Times. His father confirmed that “[Daniel] was quite a regular at the discos and told us that some guys had threatened him. They were neo-Nazis and had harassed him previously.”
Meanwhile, Movilh’s president, Rolando Jimenez, said they would be seeking a meeting with the Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera, and his Interior Minister, Rodrigo Hinzpeter. “We will file appropriate legal action on Thursday or Friday of this week and we're asking for an urgent meeting with the Interior Minister,” he told El Mostrador.
The minister himself, issued a statement. It read: “There is nothing more detestable than to build a fraternal society that disrespects and disregards diversity. I think the violence displayed in attacking Daniel Zamudio for his sexual orientation is behaviour that, as a society, we need to eradicate once and for all.”
Meanwhile, the singer Ricky Martin has also condemned the attack and sent his best wishes to Zamudio and his family. According to theHuffington Post, Martin used his Twitter account to post the following message: “No more hatred, no more discrimination. I hope that justice is done NOW. Lots of light to Daniel and his whole family.”
Martin’s tweet, which included the hashtag #fuerzadanielzamudio (which means “strength Daniel Zamudio”), has been spreading quickly via social networks in Latin America and around the world.