FRESNILLO, Zacatecas, Mexico — The first openly gay mayor in Mexico’s history has been sworn in at a ceremony in city of Fresnillo, but LGBT residents should not look to him for support in legalizing same-sex marriage in Zacatecas, a state known for cowboy boots, embossed belts and drug gang shootouts.
Benjamin Medrano, a 47-year-old singer and gay bar owner, says he is proud to be openly gay and rights groups say his victory in the city of Fresnillo’s July 7 election marks a significant point in the fight for gay rights.
But while Medrano has been vocal about his homosexuality, he has sent conflicting messages about his support for same-sex marriage and adoption, and has spoken out against LGBT pride parades and “flamboyant” homosexuality.
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A Roman Catholic in a very conservative part of Mexico, Medrano says he has no intention of getting married.
And while he has denied being against same-sex marriage, he said during his campaign that “I’m not in favor of gay marriage” in Zacatecas.
“We’re not prepared, in my view,” he said. “Not yet, anyway, because we have strong roots in our religion, and in our customs.”
Medrano has said that what is acceptable in the capital, Mexico City, and other regions of the country where same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal, may not be acceptable in Zacatecas.
Article continues below“My agenda is based on achieving human and social development for all of us who live in Fresnillo, regardless of sexual orientation,” he told BBC Mundo.
Medrano said his sexual orientation was only an issue during the electoral campaign when the opposition tried to use it against him in the largely conservative Zacatecas state.
Medrano campaigned on a strong public-safety platform, advocating cooperation with state and federal police, and vetting and background checks on the notoriously corrupt local police force.
In recent years, a drug turf war has raged around Fresnillo, and bodies have been found hacked to bits, others with their throats slit, some decapitated, some stuffed in wells or shallow graves.