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Hispanic Federation Anti-Homophobia Press Conference May 17 2011

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Uploaded on May 24, 2011

New York, NY -- On Tuesday, May 17th, a diverse group of Latino elected and community leaders gathered at City Hall to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and bring attention to the social problems and public health threat posed by homophobia and anti-gay bias.

"Over the past year, we have witnessed horrible and senseless acts of violence against our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community -- cases where individuals have been targeted and tortured because they are gay or perceived to be gay. We all have a responsibility to stand up, speak out and work to eradicate this hate and violence in our community," said New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito.

"Today we are joining together and sending a strong message -- enough is enough!!! Stop the violence against people based on their sexual orientation or their perceived sexual orientation. We don't tolerate it when race is the motivation in an attack and we stand together against it -- we should do the same when it comes to attacks based on sexual orientation. Anyone should be able to walk down the street without fear someone will attack them because of their sexual identity or perceived sexual identity," stated New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

"Whether it's subtle or overt, homophobia works to dehumanize lesbians and gays -- denying them of their dignity and equality. And that is why we must educate and promote respectful and hate-free dialogue in our homes and society at large," declared New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez.

The Hispanic Federation and the LUCES coalition used the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia to announce the launch of "Homophobia has many faces," a multifaceted social marketing campaign designed to promote acceptance and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and combat the profound social impact of anti-gay stigma.

"There is no place for homophobia in any community. We commend the Hispanic Federation and LUCES for embarking on this campaign to fight discrimination in the Latino community. As I talk to State Senators about the importance of supporting marriage equality, I know all too well that in many communities and families, many in the LGBT community are still not accepted for who they are. That has to change in order to stem the tide of hate crimes and the terrible anguish many in the Latino community may face due to homophobia," said New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.

"Homophobia has many faces, living not only in those who bully and commit violence against gays, but in individuals who make ridiculing jokes about gays and in parents who deny their children their full love because they are gay," affirmed Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation.

An important goal of the campaign is to shed light on the significant public health threat created by homophobia. Anti-gay bias and prejudice lead many Latino lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs) to forgo HIV prevention services, practice risky sex behaviors and even fail to discuss HIV and sex.

"A body of research clearly indicates that individuals who feel rejected, threatened or victimized are much more likely to engage in behaviors that are detrimental to their physical and mental well-being. Given the homophobic attitudes prevalent in our society, it should not surprise us that incidents of suicide and HIV infections in the LGBT community continue to increase disproportionately," stated Guillermo Chacón, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

"The foundation of this campaign is based on the premise that we have the power to stamp out homophobia in the Hispanic community through open, respectful and hate-free dialogue. This power rests in each one of us," said Gloria Zelaya, Director of Teatro El Puente.

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