Even though the church has been separated from the state since the first decade of the twentieth century, the church’s negative view of homosexuality made it seem non-existent in Uruguay for many, many years. Maybe it wasn’t, but obvious examples were few and far between, and ignored by both the people and legislation.
They hid and were hidden. Sure, there were many people, mostly men, who were thought to be gay or were whispered about, but there was no proof, and a vast majority of them were married to women and had children so they would pass for heterosexual. While they actively hid their nature, parents also did this with children. When there was an unmarried young gay man in a family, other members tried to hide it, and if it was a young woman, she was simply considered a “spinster.” No questions were asked about relationships when it came to inheritance and the like as people passed away.
|Punta del Este, Uruguay – On the beach – NRuArg|
In the late twentieth century, we saw a little more flexibility, especially in terms of accepting gay males and in legislation, for example, with the recognition of civil unions, but it was not until a few years ago that gay marriages were allowed by law, and some famous people decided to come out of the closet and get married. At this time, a very strong feminist movement also started to become active and defend the rights of discriminated groups in general.
|Punta del Este, Uruguay – People relaxing – NRuArg|
So far, so good. There were opinions on both sides but nothing too extreme. However, a couple of years ago, rights and protection were extended to transsexuality, with laws passed to allow them to undergo operations paid for by the government in order to change the biological sex they had been assigned since birth, and these decisions made many people complain, arguing that the government often denies access to costly medicine or treatment for possible terminal illness by saying there is not enough money. The critics asked whether those very same resources should be used for something they did not consider to be a priority. Furthermore, transsexuals were sort of rewarded with a list of benefits that included a special pension for those who were old, as repayment for former suffering, free theatre tickets to the most prestigious theater in the capital, employment quotas that were added to the already existing ones for handicapped people and other minorities.
|Punta del Este, Uruguay – Parada 1 – elbud|
In addition to this, a manual was developed for sexual education in schools run by the government and also private accredited schools, beginning with kids at the age of three, and in this manual it was affirmed that sex is not a biological but a social construct, and it included a section with practical exercises, where kids, as I have mentioned, starting at the age of three, were supposed to lay on mats on the floor, and caress each other all around their bodies, including their private parts, which many parents read simply as group masturbation.
|Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay – On the pier – N.F. Photography|
All these changes have taken place in the course of a couple of years and it has been confusing. In fact, pandemonium ensued. To many it seemed that all these measures and laws had turned their lives upside down; that if you were not gay, transsexual, handicapped or a feminist, if you were a simple heterosexual male or female, you had become abnormal.
There have been articles in the newspapers defending one position or the other, mostly depending on the political orientation of the media. But since social media networks have become the arena where most people vent their opinions, sometimes nicely, sometimes with jokes, but often violently, these topics have become the subject of very heated arguments, swearing and insulting, with all kinds of eternal threads.
|Montevideo, Uruguay – Downtown – Matyas Rehak|
One wonders. How can a balance be found? It is obvious that all minorities should be respected, but to a certain point what is happening here seems to go beyond respect, becoming almost an extreme, practically an exaggeration; and measures which should have promoted better understanding and tolerance between individuals and collective groups are apparently achieving the exact opposite result.
Why is this happening? Has there always been hatred and discrimination among our population? Have these measures been taken in a manner which is too abrupt, too imposing, not considering our people’s attitudes and beliefs?
|Montevideo, Uruguay – Crossing – Martina Pellecchia|
How long will it take for the waters to calm down? What will be required? Why do so many people feel their rights are not being considered at the moment when the rights of such minorities are? Or is it not the fact that they are being considered but the way in which they are being considered?
Another point to be highlighted is employment quotas; even if competitive applications are fair, in a country with unemployment running above 8%, after quotas are met for handicapped people, racial diversity, and now sexual diversity, others cannot be sure they will get a job regardless of how high they score on application tests since positions for minorities are designated before scoring any tests; and that makes people angry. Here we see the complicated tension between meritocracy and equality.
|Montevideo, Uruguay – Downtown 2 – Matyas Rehak|
The big question is: Can you change people’s mind and prejudices by simply imposing laws and trying to force ideas on them? Or should there be educational campaigns where these matters become part of a comprehensive workshop, where people of all walks of life jointly collaborate in activities that do not specifically relate to their sexual identity but can help them understand that these others, working by their side, are similar to them, have the same good intentions and feelings, and that people are not defined by their sexual orientation but by their emotions, education and goals in life?
Our country will have to find a good answer to this question and others that have arisen and/or will arise in the future to avoid extreme polarization in this matter, which, often, is the cause of violence.
Snapshot 1: Punta del Este, Uruguay – Relaxing – NRuArg (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 2: Punta del Este, Uruguay – On the beach – NRuArg (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 3: Punta del Este, Uruguay – People relaxing – NRuArg (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 4: Punta del Este, Uruguay – Parada 1 – elbud (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 5: Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay – On the pier – N.F. Photography (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 6: Montevideo, Uruguay – Downtown – Matyas Rehak (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 7: Montevideo, Uruguay – Crossing – Martina Pellecchia (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 8: Montevideo, Uruguay – Downtown 2 – Matyas Rehak (Shutterstock)
Cinemblem voiceover: Macarena Larranaga
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Ahmed, Amina. Growing up with Abuse: A Life of Extremes – Lebanon. April 2019.
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Awdejuk, Pawel. Pole-arization – Poland. June 2019.
Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies – Ukraine. May 2019.
Cannarella, Daniela. A Past-Present Dicotomia – Italy. June 2019.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero Casas. Balance – Cuba. May 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. The Illogic of Extremes – Uruguay. May 2019.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Extremism Is Now the New Hype? – Spain. February 2019
Israyelyan, Mania. Polarized Within Ourselves – Armenia. June 2019.
Kanunova, Nigina. Role of Polarization in the Life of an Individual and Society – Tajikistan. July 2019.
Montano, Osvaldo. Progress in the Face of Polarization – Bolivia. February 2019.
Protić, Aleksandar. Linguistic Balkanization as a Means of Polarization – The Balkans. June 2019.
Ranaldo, Mary. Social Polarization – Italy. April 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
Sariñana, Alejandra Gonzalez. Student Movements – Mexico. March 2019.
Sekulić, Jelena. The Polarizacija of Serbian Culture – Serbia. June 2019.
Sem, Sebastião. Brandos Costumes – Portugal. July 2019.
Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.
Sevunts, Nane. The Era To Close – Armenia. March 2019.
Skobic, Alexandar. The Loss of Identity – The Balkans. April 2019.
Sitorus, Rina. Polarization in Politics: All a Cebong or Kampret – Indonesia. March 2019.
Spirito, Julieta. A Thought about Polarized Insecurity – Argentina. April 2019.
Valenzuela, Monica. Adults and Children – Peru. April 2019.
Vuka. Extreme Immunity to Functional Tax and Judicial System – Serbia. March 2019
Wallis, Toni. Walls and Resettlement – South Africa and Angola. February 2019.
Williams, Jazz Carl. Unfinished Episodes – Spain. May 2019.
CW 30 – Argentina – Javier Gomez
CW 31 – Turkey – Seyit Ali Dastan
CW 32 – India – Sanjay Ray
CW 33 – Russia – Anastasiya Zakharova
CW 34 – Canada – Maha Husseini
CW 35 – Spain – Virginia Sanmartin Lopez
CW 38 – Turkey – Peren Cakir
CW 37 – Armenia – Hayk Antonyan
CW 38 – Italy – Sara Deiana
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed