By Pedro Pablo Cortes
Mexico City, May 17 (EFE).- In a country where discrimination prevails despite legal advances, Contrata LGBTIQ has become one of the first Mexican initiatives to integrate the LGBT community, including migrants, into the labor force.
One case is that of Leonardo Martinez, 27 – who left his home because of the social exclusion he suffered due to his sexual orientation – came to Casa Frida, the LGBT shelter that operates the program, seeking a community that would support and welcome him.
“I came from a complicated home situation. My coming out of the closet, several difficult situations there. I came here and they opened the doors for me,” Leonardo said in an interview with EFE at Casa Frida, located in the municipality of Iztapalapa, in eastern Mexico City.
Coming from a precarious situation, Leonardo got a job as a supervisor at a fast food restaurant and now lives in an apartment in the capital’s downtown area.
Even so, he says that as an LGBT person he still faces “certain limitations and certain obstacles” from companies that are still guided by sexual stereotypes.
“Fortunately, there are places where that doesn’t matter, but these days there continue to be places where you don’t fit the image or you aren’t part of the image that the firm wants to project,” he said.
Leonardo’s case reflects the reality of the LGBT community in Mexico, which on May 17 is joining in commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB).
Estimates are that in Mexico 11 percent of the population identifies as LGBT, some 14 million of the country’s 126 million inhabitants, according to the LGBT+ Orgullo 2021 survey conducted by the Ipsos consulting firm.
But at least six of every 10 LGBT persons reported suffering discrimination in the latest Survey on Discrimination Due to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (Endosig) by the Mexican government’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred).
In addition, 51.6 percent of the LGBT community complained that they were “unjustifiably denied” a job or a promotion due to their sexual orientation, a percentge that increases to 65 percent in the case of trans-gender people, Endosig said.
Thus, for LGBT people “there are few or no possibilities to find a dignified job, that will be secure” with legal benefits, Ian Hernandez, the coordinator of institutional development for Casa Frida and the Contrata LGBTIQ program, told EFE.
“The trans community, within our LGBT family, has suffered the major portion of the discrimination. We’ve all experienced some kind of rejection in our jobs, a certain fear, some lack of opportunity to grow within the industry,” Hernandez said.
Contrata LGBTIQ is an integral part of Casa Frida, which opened two years ago at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to take in Mexicans and migrants fleeing from violence.
Since then, about 330 people have passed through Casa Frida of whom about 45 percent have gotten a job interview along with receiving advice and attending workshops, Hernandez said.
In addition, the program has forged alliances with international companies like Spain’s Ibis hotel chain.
“It’s been very positive and it’s been a joint endeavor because many of these companies first made overtures to us, in approaching us and telling us ‘We have some vacancies that we’d like to share with you,'” he said.
Leonardo feels that with the support he has received, he feels secure enough so that now he aspires to bigger things such as finishing his studies and returning to work in the administrative area.
“So, (I want) to return to what I know, and sure, better work opportunities and benefits. My goal is to have some kind of better-paying job, more stable and where I can continue being myself,” he said.