During Women’s History Month, Gay Politics is spotlighting the efforts of women leaders who fight for the rights of LGBT people. Today we turn our attention to Argentina to recognize a truly outstanding advocate for her country’s LGBT community.
María Rachid has been a steadfast advocate for equal rights in Argentina during a decade-long career that has earned her international recognition. In December 2010, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner nominated her as Vice President of the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism, a state agency that protects citizens from institutionalized hatred. And in July 2011, Rachid was elected to the legislature of the city of Buenos Aires as a member of the Front for Victory coalition.
Rachid was born in Mercedes, a province of Buenos Aires, in November 1974. She studied law at the University of Belgrano and Western Connecticut State University, and later moved to Buenos Aires where she began her illustrious career as a public servant. In 1998, Rachid founded La Fulana (“Every Woman”), a community center for lesbian and bisexual women in Buenos Aires. During her tenure at the organization, she facilitated workshops on self-esteem, homophobia, and health issues such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. She also designed public campaigns around women’s reproductive rights and contributed to public debates around anti-discrimination policy.
In 2006, Rachid co-founded the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Federation, a consortium of nonprofit organizations that advocate for equality for the country’s LGBT community. As the first President of the Federation, Rachid became the leading national spokesperson for marriage equality with her wildly successful campaign, “Los mismos derechos con los mismos nombres” (“Same Rights, Same Names”). She also co-authored the legislation that would later become the Equal Marriage Act. Thanks in no small part to her efforts, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, and only the tenth to do so worldwide.
Over the past thirteen years, Rachid has organized Argentina’s Gay Pride Parade, an annual event that regularly draws over 100,000 attendees to Buenos Aires. She also successfully lobbied Argentina’s national congress to adopt May 17th as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Furthermore, Rachid is an accomplished journalist; she is the founding editor of Revista Fulanas and Periódico Queer, two community newspapers for LGBT audiences with circulation in the tens of thousands.
Rachid’s activism has also extended beyond just the LGBT community. In 2010, she co-founded La Mesa Nacional por la Igualdad y Contra la Discriminación, a coalition of historically underrepresented populations in Argentina such as indigenous peoples, migrant workers, patients of HIV/AIDS, and people with disabilities, among others. She continues to serve as the bureau’s Secretary General.
Spanish newspaper El País recently named Rachid one of the 100 most important people from Latin America and, after a unanimous vote, the legislature of Buenos Aires bestowed upon her the honor of “Distinguished Personality“ in the fight for human rights.
Gay Politics celebrates María Rachid and her extraordinary efforts on behalf of Argentina’s LGBT community.
Matthew Aycock is an intern at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute.