Thousands of people joined the funeral of Daniel Zamudio, the young gay man who died this week following a brutal homophobic attack by neo-Nazis earlier this month.
Santiago de Chile - During the funeral procession, which took place on Friday ahead of a private cremation service, an outpouring of grief was displayed in the streets awash with mourners. People had arrived from all over the country, holding flags, signs, and photographs of Zamudio.
Aljazeera was the first to highlight the scale of numbers attending the funeral of the 24-year-old man, who was attacked in a park on 3 March.
As reported in Digital Journalearlier this month, Daniel had been left so badly beaten that doctors treating him at Santiago’s Posta Central Hospital were forced to put him into a medically induced coma and on mechanical ventilation. His injuries included a badly beaten head, broken bones, cigarette burns on and swastikas carved into his skin, and part of an ear cut off.
CNN reported that prior to the funeral, Zamudio’s family home had been decorated with flowers and white balloons in honour of Daniel. While CNN Chile stated that mourners and well-wishers also gathered at a stage, set up elsewhere in the city, to celebrate Daniel’s life. Musicians played and speakers called for changes in the law to protect gay and transgendered people.
According to the Pink Paper Daniel’s family were overwhelmed by the public support they had received. His brother, Diego, said: “We are surprised and greatly appreciative of all the support we have received from social media, Daniel’s classmates, his friends, people from the north, from the south, from the world.”
In the Sydney Morning Herald, Diego added, “There will be time for justice but for now, I am only asking for respect, and I thank all of you for each gesture, each tear shed, for my brother.”
A hate-crimes bill was passed in Chile seven years ago has remained unenacted ever since with conservative and religious groups blocking its passage.
“At every turn, this law has been cut. At every turn, there have been efforts to trim it. There was even resistance to having discrimination based on sexual orientation included in the [bill]. This is something Chile can no longer permit. And now, after the death of Daniel, which has brought this moment of sensibility, it is time to pass [the bill],” Carolina Toha – President of Chile’s Liberal Party for Democracy – said earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Rolando Jimenez, President of the Chilean gay-rights organization Movilh – Movimiento Chileno de Minorias Sexuales (Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation) – reiterated the need for action to protect LGBT citizens of his country. “What we are asking for is to change the conditions of life, improve the quality of life, recognition of the right to dignity and equality for all gay, lesbian and transgendered Chileans,” he told CNN yesterday.
And according to On Top magazine, in response to these demands, Chile’s Vice President, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, pledged the government would act urgently. “Since Daniel’s aggressive murder happened, we’ve been learning how we are going to construct effective protected society with more love, where no one, no one is discriminated against for any reason. Because all Chileans have the same rights.”
Hinzpeter then added, “There is no one in our society who can feel such murderous arrogance that they can attack and assault a fellow citizen for any reason.”
Daniel Zamudio (Screengrab from m24digital.com).
Daniel’s death was reported byDigital Journal on Wednesday – which prompted this robust comment from Cecilia Jerez, who herself lives in Santiago de Chile. She wrote, “For seven years in my country people have been waiting and struggling for the antidiscrimination law. [A law] which protects all of us – women, men, black, white, different nationalities. It doesn’t matter what sexual preference you have [. . .] What I don’t understand is how you can choose to be a neo-Nazi being a Chilean, which 80% of your heritage is aboriginal. I mean seriously, the world has to be more tolerant and accept each other, no one has the right to judge another for being gay or not.”
Four suspects – Raul Alfonso Lopez, 25, Alejandro Axel Angulo Tapia, 26, Patricio Ahumada Garay, 25, and Fabian Mora, 19 – have been arrested in connection with the attack.