Ten persons have been arrested for “moral damage” crimes amid a crackdown on transgender persons in the northern Mexican city of Torreon.
The mayor of the city, Jorge Zermeño, is also forcing transgender persons to carry “health” ID cards and has tasked the police under his command to enforce his decision.
While Zermeño, will only be the mayor of the city in the state of Coahuila for 2018, he will most likely be remembered for ordering the arrest and persecution of trans people.
According to Neo Ruiz Malacara, the president of the San Aelredo LGBT rights local association, the mayor has also ordered the closing of several nightclubs, which are allegedly frequented by members of the city's LGBT community.
“They're arresting them and doing a health persecution also, saying that if you are a trans person and don't have the ID in the place where you're offering sex services, you cannot be on the street dressed as a woman,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz added that the mayor's actions suggest that he thinks every transgendered person works as a prostitute, which is a clear sign of trans-phobia and misinformation since everyone must card the cards regardless of their occupation.
Some of the persons arrested have been fined between $500 and $3,700 Mexcian pesos or between US$26 and US$198.
Flor Estela Renteria Medina, a lawmaker in the state of Coahuila from the pro-government Institutional Revolution Party, is demanding the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) activate protocols in the region against Zermeño's policies, which represent a “persecution, an intransigent, authoritarian and violating attitude against the LGBT community.”
Mexico's 1916 Federal Civil Code defines the “moral damage” crime as “harm done to a person's feelings, affection, beliefs, decency, honor, reputation, private life, shape and physical aspect, or the esteem others have of him/her.”
While under the current law, arresting or forcing trans people to carry ID cards that identify them as trans people or sex workers would constitute “moral damage” against them, Zermeño's interpretation has led to them being changed instead.
Trans persons and the LGBT community, in general, face discrimination from the most conservative sectors of Mexican society, despite having relatively progressive laws, and are often victims of hate crimes in the country.
According to a report by Between 2008 and 2016, 247 trans persons were murdered in Mexico, with more than 50 of those murders taking place in 2017.
This is the second time Zermeño, of the right-wing National Action Party, has served as mayor of Torreon after his first period in 1996-1999. He was also appointed as Mexico's Ambassador to Spain from 2007 to 2011. Several magazine and newspaper articles talk about his luxurious, opulent lifestyle surrounded by Mexico's top conservative political figures.