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MEXICO CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A prominent Catholic pro-lifer and former congressman has been found guilty of "gender-based political violence" for social media posts referring to a gender-dysphoric politician as a biological male.
On Wednesday, Mexico's highest court for electoral issues convicted Rodrigo Iván Cortés for posts on Twitter and Facebook describing Salma Luévano, a member of the Chamber of Deputies — Mexico's lower house — as a "man who self-ascribes as a woman."
The Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Power upheld the lower court's verdict, convicting Cortés of gender-based political violence, digital violence, symbolic violence, psychological violence and sexual violence for his posts.
In addition to the court imposing a fine of $19,244 MXN, it directed Cortés to publish the court ruling and an apology drafted by the court on Twitter and Facebook daily for 30 days. Cortés has also been ordered to take a course on "gender-based political violence" and will be placed on the National Registry of Persons Sanctioned in Political Matters Against Women.
The 54-year-old Luévano sparked outrage among Catholics in September 2022 after the politician appeared in the Chamber of Deputies dressed in the full regalia of a bishop to present a bill seeking to penalize Christian views on sexuality as a form of "hate speech."
Father Eduardo Hayen Cuarón, director of the weekly Presencia of the Mexican diocese of Ciudad Juárez, slammed Luévano for "making a fool of herself by disguising herself, first as a woman, now as a bishop."
"Gender dysphoria is a mental illness accompanied by great egocentrism, and which requires a lot of compassion," the priest tweeted.
When Cortés' pro-life group, the National Front for the Family (FNF), expressed concerns over Luévano's bill on social media, Luévano filed a complaint against Cortés, arguing that nine posts on Twitter and Facebook violated his alleged right to be acknowledged as a woman.
The FNF posts had also criticized attempts made by Luévano's Morena Party to enshrine "sexual rights" without age distinctions, including minors, in Mexico's constitution.
Cortés was charged with "gender-based political violence" for a "denial of identity" with regards to the transgender activist.
"This judgment is gravely disappointing — the suppression of speech and expression points to the demolition of democracy in Mexico," Cortés said in a statement issued by ADF International, which is providing legal support to the Catholic pro-lifer.
"The real purpose of this conviction is to silence me from saying what every concerned citizen needs to hear — that these actions and proposed laws are driving forward a radical agenda in Mexico, which poses a very serious threat to the wellbeing of our society, especially our children," Cortés explained.
"Free speech is greatly threatened in Mexico at this time, and it has hit a crisis point with courts imposing severe censorship sanctions for the peaceful expression of views, as evidenced by this egregious case," Kristina Hjelkrem, legal counsel for ADF International, noted.
"Unfortunately, Cortés' case is far from an isolated incident," she lamented. "More and more, we are seeing the Mexican government violate its citizens' fundamental and constitutional right to freedom of speech."
In the 1990s, Luévano was arrested by Mexican police on charges of indecency for wearing women's clothing when he was 17.
He was one of the first two men who identify as women to be elected to Mexico's parliament, along with María Clemente García, also a member of Morena and elected in 2021.
Cortés plans to take his case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights after exhausting all options for legal remedy in Mexico.