A Mexican high court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of a former national congressman over what it called “gender-based political violence” after he called a transgender-identifying fellow politician a “man who self-ascribes as a woman.”
Former congressman Rodrigo Iván Cortés will be forced to publish a daily court-authored apology online for 30 days in punishment for having referred to congressional representative Salma Luévano as a man, according to a press release from ADF International, which has provided legal support to Cortés during the fight.
Cortés had originally referred to Luévano as a man as part of a series of tweets in September 2022. The tweets were in response to a bill Luévano had introduced that would designate certain Christian teachings on sexuality as “hate speech.” Adding to the controversy, Luévano proposed the bill while dressing up in a caricature of a Catholic bishop.
Luévano filed a complaint against Cortés for having referred to him as a man. A lower court earlier this year had ruled against Cortés for the tweets, which it claimed constituted “political violence” against a woman.
On Wednesday the Mexican Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power upheld the lower court’s ruling, fining Cortés 19,244 pesos (approximately $1,135) and “directing him to publish the court ruling and an apology drafted by the court on Twitter and Facebook daily for 30 days,” according to ADF International.
Cortés will be forced to attend a training session on “gender-based political violence”; he will also be listed on the country’s National Registry of Persons Sanctioned in Political Matters against Women.
Kristina Hjelkrem, legal counsel for ADF International, said in the press release that the ruling was “deeply disturbing.”
“Disagreement is not discrimination, and peaceful dissent should never be penalized as violence,” Hjelkrem said.
Cortés following the ruling called the high court’s decision “gravely disappointing.”
“I am committed to seeking justice and securing mine and every Mexican citizen’s right to freedom of speech,” he said. “No laws should be used to silence or punish individuals for sharing their convictions, especially on issues of great importance.”
“Peacefully expressing the truth of biological reality can never be a crime,” he added.
Luévano has generated controversy in Mexico’s assembly for stunts such as the bishop’s costume he wore last year as well as participating in an incident last year in which fellow transgender-identifying legislator María Clemente drove chamber President Santiago Creel Miranda from his chair as part of an attempt to expel another congressman.
Cortés “plans to take his case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,” ADF International said; the religious freedom group said it will be supporting him in that effort.