Associate Professor of politics Elisabeth Jay Friedman attended Madrid's gay pride parade in July 2008. She was there to conduct field research on the role that the Spanish government plays in fostering human rights for the LGBT community in Latin America.
In a culture best know for machismo and bullfights, an alter ego has
emerged in recent years with the Spanish government stepping up efforts
to expand human rights for the lesbian, gay, transsexual, and bisexual
community, not only domestically, but in former colonial states in
The findings are part of the results of
“Progressive Colonialism: The Diffusion of LGBT Rights in
Ibero-America,” a yearlong research endeavor conducted by Elisabeth Jay
Friedman, associate professor of politics at the University of San
Francisco, with research assistance from senior politics major Erika
Friedman and Carlsen are preparing to present their
results to the XXXVII International Congress of the Latin American
Studies Association conference in Brazil in June, where they have been
invited to present a coauthored paper.
“The Spanish LGBT
community has convinced (Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez)
Zapatero’s government not only to support their domestic struggles,
centrally the demand for marriage equality, but also to include among
their development commitments the (wider) human rights of LGBT people
and the strengthening of their organizations,” Friedman said.
from the Spanish government – channeled through national LGBT
organizations – has come in a variety of forms, including funding for a
traveling LGBT film festival that reached 70,000 people in 20 cities in
10 countries, among them Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru in 2007.
support was also essential to Latin American rights groups’ lobbying
efforts of the human rights committee of the South America trade
organization Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur) to issue a declaration
“expressing the urgent necessity of working to eradicate discrimination
on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in
our countries and recogniz(ing) Sexual Diversity Rights as Fundamental
Human Rights," which the committee did in August 2007.
in three primary areas, Spain, under Zapatero, has provided material
resources, strategic advice, and “cultural” legitimacy, Friedman said.
That includes providing funds for LGBT activists in Latin America and
helping groups to establish community centers, underwriting ongoing
exchanges of Spanish and Latin American activists to promote and share
strategic ideas, and, by adopting equal marriage rights in 2005,
opening the door to similar change in other Latin cultures with its
deep roots in Catholicism.
“As the head of one major Argentine
organization attested, the Spanish legalization of same-sex marriage
was an enormous inspiration to them,” Friedman said.
who intends to enroll in graduate school, was drawn to the research by
her interest in the lasting effects of colonialism.
mission to educate minds and hearts to change the world is really
exemplified in our research,” said Carlsen, a member of the Queer
Alliance and an Institute for International Public Policy fellowship
winner. “Understanding how social movements, human rights activists,
and nongovernmental organizations influence government institutions is
the foundation for learning how to change the world.”