“De todas las discriminaciones, la que a mí me ha tocado padecer en forma particular es el desamparo legal.” “Of all the discrimination, the one that has touched me in particular is legal helplessness,” remains one of the most poignant quotes from Argentinian queer activist Carlos Jáuregui.

blue and red doorAlthough individuals outside of the LGBTQ+ community may not be familiar with his life’s work, within the community itself, Jáuregui (La Plata, September 22, 1957 – Buenos Aires, September 20,1996) stands alongside queer icons and activists such as Stonewall’s Martha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera.

In Argentina, Carlos Jáuregui exemplifies the dedication and selflessness of activists who paved the way for the rights of today’s generation. 

Activism

As founder of the association Gays por los Derechos Civiles (Gays DC – Gays for Civil Rights) in 1991 and as the first president of La Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (CHA- Argentine Homosexual Community), Jáuregui is responsible for shaping the trajectory of Argentina’s queer history and increasing the community’s visibility.

Jáuregui’s mythos was sealed through unflinching political acts in critical moments, such as a 1985 police raid at “Contramano” nightclub, when he demonstrated solidarity with queer detainees by being taken into custody as well.

In 1992, Jáuregui and the CHA organizad Argentina’s first Gay Pride Parade (Primera Marcha del Orgullo Gay Lésbica Travesti Trans Bisexual) along with organizations, such as Gays por los Derechos Civiles (Gays DC), Transexuales por el Derecho a la Vida y a la Identidad (TRANSDEVI), Grupo de Investigación en Sexualidad e Investigación Social (ISIS), Iglesia de la Comunidad Metropolitana (ICM), and Convocatoria Lesbiana (CL). 

carlos jauregui milongas sceneJáuregui dedicated his life to fighting against Argentina’s HIV/AIDS crisis, campaigning for civil unions, and advocating to have sexual orientation included in La Ley Antidiscriminatoria de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Anti-Discrimination Law of Buenos Aires).

Jáuregui passed away in 1996, but his legacy continues to this day.

Legacy

A week after his death, Article 11 was added to Argentina’s Constitution, after approval by the Statutory Assembly, which states that “Todas las personas tienen idéntica dignidad y son iguales ante la ley.” – “All people have identical dignity and are equal before the law.”

In 2002, the CHA’s struggle for equality begun by Jáuregui became reality, as Buenos Aires’ Civil Union Law permitted queer civil unions. Law No. 1,004 went into effect in 2003. 2015’s Código Civil y Commercial (Civil and Commercial Code) expanded these rights countrywide.

Current CHA campaigns include La Campaña Stop Sida (Campaign to Stop AIDS) and La Campaña “Somos Familias” (Campaign “We Are Family”) in favour of marriage equality.

Argentina became the first country in Latin America lo legalize marriage equality in 2010. Progress continued with 2012’s Gender Identity Law, which grants trans individuals the right to dignity and prohibits discrimination.

Argentina’s LGBTQ+ Community Today

Today, Buenos Aires is host to an incredible LGBTQ+ scene, including the yearly International Queer Tango Festival, queer milongas (tango events for the queer community), and the community festival Buenos Aires Diversa. 

Since 2012, August 20, Jáuregui‘s death, has been honoured as El Día del Activismo por la diversidad sexual en Argentina (National Day of Activism and Sexual Diversity). It serves as a reminder for society to reaffirm their commitment to promoting and respecting LGBTQ+ rights.

Travel Tips

For travellers who want to experience a part of queer history, head to Line H on Buenos Aires’ Subte (Metro) and alight at Santa Fe – Carlos Jáuregui Station. Completed in 2016, one can see various murals and pride imagery dedicated to Jáuregui at the intersection of Avenida Santa Fe and Pueyrredón in Recoleta, one of several hubs for the queer community. One can easily continue on to Palermo, which is popular with the Buenos Aires queer community as well.

milongas dancers

For a more intimate look at Jáuregui’s life, 2016’s documentary, El Pxto Inolvidable: Vida de Carlos Jáuregui (Carlos Jáuregui: The Unforgettable F**), directed by Lucas Santa Ana, features clips and interviews.

Despite all the progress Argentina has made, as elsewhere in the world, violations and violence against the community continues to this day. However, the legacy of Jáuregui continues and the strides that the country is making provide an example in progress for other nations. Throughout its history, Argentina’s landmark rulings and events have reaffirmed its place as a progressive-leader in LGBTQ+ rights. Increasing visibility and overcoming obstacles to human rights has been a difficult struggle, but pioneers such as Jáuregui have forged a path that the newest generation must continue.

Is there a legendary activist in your community whose story needs to be told? Let us know!

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Natalia Iwanek
Natalia Iwanek is a queer Toronto-based freelance copy editor, proofreader, and writer. With a passion for literature and languages, this self-proclaimed bookworm devours and collects books at an alarming pace. Originally hailing from Poland, with Ukrainian ancestry, perpetually-traveling Natalia was raised in Toronto and has lived in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Guatemala, and Argentina.