LGBTI candidates Alberto de Belaunde & Gahela Cari make historic progress in Peruvian elections

Alberto de Belaunde was recently reelected to Peru’s Congress of the Republic, reclaiming his seat as one of the first openly LGBTI members. Alberto also received the second-highest number of votes of any Congressional candidate in Lima. In another historic first, Gahela Cari also ran and became the first indigenous transgender Congressional candidate in the nation. This achievement marks important progress for transgender people in Peru, and will hopefully lead to greater acceptance of trans candidates.

Congressman de Belaunde served as a representative for the city of Lima since his victory in 2016. He has used his platform to push pro-equality legislation, introducing bills on same-gender marriage equality and civil unions and a bill enabling individuals to legally change their gender. He promoted Legislative Decree 1323, which created penalties for hate crimes and discrimination based on a sexual orientation and gender identity. His re-election to Lima’s seat indicates a growing acceptance of LGBTI issues in Peru’s capital city.

Last year, at Victory Institute’s LGBTQ Leaders Conference 2019, Congressman de Belaunde was honored with the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award. This annual award is given to an up-and-coming state or local LGBTI elected official with a promising political career: someone who champions equality and lives to fight for the LGBTI community. Victory Institute highlighted his achievements in Peru, sharing the importance of LGBTI representation in political spaces.

Congressman de Belaunde receiving the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award

Cari’s candidacy marked a similar progress within Peru. She ran on a platform of reforming the justice system to support vulnerable populations, and advocate for legislation prohibiting “gender-based violence and all forms of discrimination”. During her campaign, she called for “education with respect”, supporting LGBTQ students through the crucial years of their learning experiences. She was barred from joining a professional law association after university, so she turned her legal focus to politics for herself, and for trans people across the country. Though she didn’t win a seat during this snap election, she won over 20,000 votes, and has a bright future in her political career realizing the equality of Peru’s LGBTI community.

Cari has long been preparing for candidacy. In 2015, she joined Victory Institute and the Peruvian reproductive and sexual rights organization PROMSEX for the LGBTI candidate training program “Empodera”. Around the world, Victory Institute works with local partners to train LGBTI leaders and activists in skills to affect positive change in their local political environments, walking the same path as de Belaunde and Cari.

Last September, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra dissolved the nation’s Congress as part of his anti-corruption reforms. The Congress was in its fourth year of a five-year term, so the country held snap elections for the 130 representatives who will serve until next year’s general election.

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