Jiménez Flores Elected to the Mexican Senate

After serving as an appointed deputy in the Mexican assembly and becoming the first out lesbian or gay individual in Mexico’s legislature, Patria Jiménez Flores was elected to the Mexican senate in 2006, the first out lesbian or gay individual elected to the lawmaking body.

Summary of Event

Although Mexican women have played active roles during key moments in the country’s history (for example, the War of Independence, the Mexican Revolution), they could not vote until 1947 and could not run for office until 1953. Women who loved women were often closeted and circumspect. One example is the famed poet, nun, and scholar Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, who wrote love poems dedicated to several female viceregal mentors. Some women who might in the past be thought of as lesbian might today be thought of as transgender, like the notable Amelia (Amelio) Robles, who fought in the Mexican Revolution. Amelio, as she preferred to be called, dressed in male clothing and was a fierce combatant. [kw]Jiménez Flores Elected to the Mexican Senate (Jan., 2006)
[kw]Flores Elected to the Mexican Senate, Jiménez (Jan., 2006)
[kw]Elected to the Mexican Senate, Jiménez Flores (Jan., 2006)
[kw]Mexican Senate, Jiménez Flores Elected to the (Jan., 2006)
[kw]Senate, Jiménez Flores Elected to the Mexican (Jan., 2006)
Mexico;GLBT movement in
Mexican Federal Congress
[c]Government and politics;Jan., 2006: Jiménez Flores Elected to the Mexican Senate[2820]
[c]Civil rights;Jan., 2006: Jiménez Flores Elected to the Mexican Senate[2820]
Flores, Patria Jiménez

Gay Mexicans also have been generally closeted. Some remembered the 1901 scandal of “Los 41,” forty-one being the number of gay men arrested at a private ball hosted by a politician. Most lesbians and gays had been closeted until the 1970’s. In 1971, Frente de Liberación Homosexual, Frente de Liberación Homosexual the first cogender LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) group in Mexico, was formed in Mexico City. While some lesbians preferred to work in cogender groups, many who objected to the sexism in those groups and those who had been influenced by feminism, chose to form women-only groups.

Over the decades, lesbians created groups to meet a variety of interests and needs, groups such as Ácratas, who were separatists; Lesbos (1977); Oikabeth (a leftist progressive group that had several incarnations); Oasis (a separatist group); La Comuna de las Lesbianas Morelenses (a living collective formed in the 1980’s); MULA (Mujeres Urgidas de un Lesbianismo Auténtico) in 1984; and a lesbian mothers group called GRUMALE (1986). Patlatonalli (1986) is still active as is El Closet de Sor Juana (1992), a lesbian-feminist activist group named after Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz. Groups from the 1990’s include Telemanita (1991), Musas de Metal (1995), and Lesbianas Zapatistas (1997).

At the International Women’s Year Conference held in Mexico in 1975, lesbians were present but not on the program. A workshop had been hastily arranged, however, after an Australian woman demanded that the subject be part of the conference. Mexican lesbian activist Nancy Cárdenas Cárdenas, Nancy wrote a brief statement that was read at the meeting. In 1978, the first Mexican lesbian conference Lesbian conferences;first in Mexico[Mexico] was held at Cárdenas’s home. Four years later, the first Gay Pride March in Mexico took place in Mexico City.

Almost twenty years later, in April of 2003, the Mexican Mexico;and antidiscrimination law[antidiscrimination law]
Civil rights;Mexico parliament passed legislation to prevent and eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and declared that sexual preference was a protected class. A government office was also created to investigate cases of discrimination perpetrated by public officers. As of 2006, Mexico and Ecuador are the only Latin American countries that provide national protection on the basis of sexual orientation. Some of the credit for the landmark Mexican law goes to Patria Jiménez Flores, the first out lesbian or gay person elected to the Mexican Federal Congress (1997).

Elsa Patria Jiménez Flores, the ninth of ten children, was born in 1957 in San Luis Potosi, México. She came out publicly when she was sixteen, and in the late 1970’s she joined the cogender lesbian and gay movement. During the years in which Flores struggled with her family’s negative reaction to her sexuality, the famed singer and lesbian, Chavela Vargas, Vargas, Chavela became her surrogate parent.

In 1982, Claudia Hinojosa, Hinojosa, Claudia a woman named Guadalupe, and two gay men ran for seats in the Mexican congress. Knowing they would not win, they nevertheless ran as out lesbian and gay candidates because they knew that their mere presence as out candidates would generate discussion and raise awareness. (American José Sarria had run for a seat on the San Francisco board of supervisors in 1961 as well, also knowing his presence would have some political effect.)

For the next fifteen years, Flores networked with both lesbian and cogender groups. The first Encuentro de Lesbianas took place in Cuernavaca, Morelos, in October of 1987, with more than two hundred women in attendance from Latin American countries and the United States. Prior to that conference, a national lesbian coordinating meeting took place with twelve Mexican lesbian and feminist organizations. In 1991, Flores stood as a candidate for the Revolutionary Workers Party Revolutionary Workers Party along with Claudia Colimoro, a sex worker. Again, although knowing they would not win, they knew that their candidacy would raise awareness and energize sectors of the LGBTI movement in Mexico.

In 1997, Flores ran for a seat in the Mexican congress as a candidate for the Democratic Revolutionary Party. Democratic Revolutionary Party, Mexico When her party won a certain percentage of the votes in Mexico City, they won the right to appoint a number of candidates to the congress, and Flores was selected. During her time as a diputada (deputy), Flores helped change the term “homosexuality” to “sexual practices” in regulations related to the corruption of minors in Article 201 of Mexico’s penal code. She sponsored legislation to prohibit the media from revealing the names of victims of sexual crimes. She worked against hate crimes, violations of civil and human rights, and domestic violence. She worked on behalf of sexuality education and HIV-AIDS awareness and supported peace negotiations with the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, Mexico. Lesbians and gays were invited to participate in the first Zapatista Conference (1994), where they presented various proposals.

In 2000, Enoé Uranga Uranga, Enoé was elected to the legislative assembly of the capital city of Mexico and was appointed president of the human rights commission. She sponsored a convivencia (domestic partnership) law, which, although endorsed by diverse groups, was not acted upon by the Mexican congress.

In 2003, México Posible México Posible (M.P.), a new political party, sponsored four gay and lesbian candidates, including drag queen Glenda in Monterrey and transgender Amaranta (formerly Jorge) Gómez in Juchitán. Gómez, who helped to found México Posible, is also the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. Although M.P. candidates did not win, their candidacy raised awareness, especially in the provinces.

During her tenure in the assembly, Flores received criticism from lesbians who perceived her as being expedient, allying with gays or lesbians depending on what the situation required. The lesbian organization she helped to found, El Closet de Sor Juana, was criticized by some for not participating in the annual dyke marches. Yet the personable politician gathered enough support from a variety of sectors to be elected in 2006 as the first out lesbian or gay individual in the Mexican senate.


Even in the face of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, fundamentalists, and deep cultural prejudice, out LGBTI people in Mexico and other Latin American countries are beginning to run for political office. In 2001 in Argentina, Lohana Berkins (a male-to-female [MTF] transsexual), ran for a seat in congress. Two year later, Flavio Raspisari, Maria Rachid, and MTF transsexual Diana Sacavan also ran for office. In 2006, Susel Paredes, an out lesbian and a lawyer, and Belissa Andía, an MTF transsexual and a leader in the transgender movement in Peru, both ran for seats in the Peruvian congress. Politicians;lesbian
Mexico;GLBT movement in
Mexican Federal Congress

Further Reading

  • Cimacnoticias. “Con Patria Jiménez la Diversidad Sexual Llega al Senado.” http://www.cimac noticias.com/ noticias/06feb/06020105.html.
  • Cuomo, Kerry Kennedy. Interview with Patria Jimenéz Flores. Speak Truth to Power. http://www.speak truth.org.
  • Díaz-Cotto, Juanita. Interview with Patria Jiménez. In Compañeras: Latina Lesbians, edited by Juanita Ramos. 3d ed. New York: Latina Lesbian History Project, 2004.
  • Walker, S. Lynn. “Transgender Candidate Roils México.” June 29, 2003. http://www.signon sandiego.com/ news/mexico/20030629-9999_1n29mexelect.html.

November 17, 1901: Police Arrest “Los 41” in Mexico City

1912-1924: Robles Fights in the Mexican Revolution

November, 1965: Revolutionary Cuba Imprisons Gays

1969: Nuestro Mundo Forms as First Queer Organization in Argentina

October 14-17, 1987: Latin American and Caribbean Lesbian Feminist Network Is Formed

June 19, 2002: Gays and Lesbians March for Equal Rights in Mexico City

April, 2003: Buenos Aires Recognizes Same-Gender Civil Unions