When atheism meets diversity

  • blog Type / Membership blog
  • Date / 22 March 2024
  • By / Contributor

Piero Gayozzo is the director of the Secular Humanist Society of Peru and a member of the Peruvian Association of Atheists.

In 2023, APERAT carried out various activities with the support of Humanists International. Thanks to this collaboration we were able to approach Peruvian organizations that also fight to achieve a more inclusive and humanistic country, but from a different approach. Peru is a country with a fairly strong Catholic Christian tradition. In 2017, a survey carried out by the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) of the Peruvian government managed to gather information from 12 thousand Peruvian LGBTI+ people. Of the people surveyed, 43% indicated that their attackers were religious leaders, while 93% indicated that it was the religious leaders who used hate language the most. This means that religious intolerance is still present in our country despite the efforts of different groups for the inclusion and equality of diversity.

Humanist activism had an approach to the LGBTI+ community during the years 2012 to 2015. The Secular Humanist Society of Peru (SSH) managed to meet with different LGBTI+ activists and organizations under the leadership of Helmut Kessel. At that time, Helmut supported Congressman Carlos Bruce, also an honorary member of the SSH, in drafting a bill that sought the approval of the Civil Union between people of the same sex in Peru. Unfortunately, the counter-campaign organized by the conservative sector did not allow it to be carried out, but it did allow the LGBTI+ community to be made visible. It was an important step towards a more humanist legislation.

Now, APERAT has once again approached the LGBTI+ community with humanism. In 2023, two events were organized that served to continue communication. In June, the president of APERAT, Henry Llanos managed to organize a conference on humanism for members of the LGBTI+ organization “Casa Diversa”. That day both Henry Llanos and Piero Gayozzo participated in two talks in which they explained the humanist philosophy and their commitment to the LGBTI+ cause in the world. The relationship between freethinking and overcoming certain religious dogmas that affect the life of the LGBTI+ community was also discussed. The most pleasant thing about the event was the curiosity that humanistic thinking caused among those present, despite having grown up in religious environments.

In December 2023, APERAT managed to have permission of the Homosexual Movement of Lima (MHOL) to hold an event on atheism in their local. The MHOL has been the most emblematic organization of the LGBTI+ community. At this event, MHOL members and the community in general were invited to learn about atheism and its history in our country. The talk was attended by José Enrique Escardó, a well-known atheist activist in Peru, who has fought against sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy or religious organizations against minors. Also present was the guest historian Sebastián Pastor Ramírez, who gave a lecture on the History of Atheism in Peru.

Thanks to the leadership work of Henry Llanos Chilet, the bridges have been built once again. We hope that this year, the humanist community in Peru, made up of APERAT and the Secular Humanist Society of Peru, can continue with this inclusion project and continue establishing ties with more activists. We are all together in the fight for a more humanistic world. It’s just a matter of joining forces.

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