Elections in Mexico Further Threaten Women's and Gay Rights
After seventy-one years of struggle for democracy in Mexico to overthrow the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the world's longest ruling political party with a history of corruption and economic irresponsibility, feminists and lesbian and gay rights activists face an even greater threat to their equality in Sunday's upcoming elections: the possibility of the National Action Party (PAN) coming to rule. Feminists worry that election of the PAN government will mean a large range of setbacks for women and gays and lesbians. The deeply conservative PAN, which has strong ties to the Catholic Church, strongly opposes abortion, and feminists fear that the already limited access to abortion in Mexico would be further jeopardized. Currently, abortion in Mexico is legal only in cases of rape or in which the mother's life is at risk. Limits on sex education in school and birth control programs are also likely to occur under PAN's authority. PAN's presidential candidate Vicente Fox, who is openly against abortion, has in the past called homosexuality an "aberration," which leads many gay rights activists to fear a likely escalation of already strong anti-gay sentiment in Mexico. Reports have indicated that persecution of gays and lesbians in Mexico has been so severe that many seek refuge status in other countries.