Every morning I check to see if Rodrigo Iván Cortés has published the “apology” that the court in Mexico has written for him and which it has ordered him to post on his social media accounts for thirty days in a row. I still have a flicker of faith left in civilization and the rule of law, but the day Cortés actually makes his forced confession is the day that flicker dies out. And I’d be interested to know what my progress-minded friends think about his case. Is this the sort of justice system you envision?
Luévano’s bill proposed to outlaw any expression of traditional Christian views about sexuality
Rodrigo Iván Cortés was a congressman in the days before Morena, the party of progress, took over, and he’s now head of a Catholic thinktank, the National Front for the Family, at a time when it’s tricky to be Christian in Mexico. It sounds strange to say it’s hard to be Christian in a country where 80 percent of people are Catholic, but it is.
I don’t think Mexico’s president, the avuncular Mr. Obrador, cares much either way, but the young activists he presides over are hellbent on stamping Christianity out. It’s the faith of the invaders, they say, and indigenous beliefs must be elevated. Like the Aztec religion, perhaps, with its jolly predilection for child sacrifice. Christians in Mexico now get it in the neck from every angle. Drug gang members target priests as a form of initiation and enjoy leaving their dead bodies carved with what the press call “narco-satanic messages.” And as the Cortés case shows, the law is out to get them too.
Cortés’s problems began with the politicians Morena is most proud of, the two trans women it appointed to their lower chamber, deputy Salma Luévano Luna and deputy María Clemente García. Some people took issue with the fact that Luévano and García were appointed as part of congress’s mandatory quota for women. I don’t think I mind. I quite enjoy the telenovela spirit they bring to Mexican politics, all shoulder pads and public vendettas.
Some thought deputy García went a little far when he posted on social media photos of a penis he was servicing while doing his second job, but as he later reminded them, it’s important to draw attention to the fact that sex work is real work. This was a protest penis. It was also García’s way of explaining his thoughts on the traditional family. He wrote: “This papacito came by very tired from work and I gave him a massage so that he could arrive at his home relaxed.”
Luévano is more restrained than García, but he puts on a good show too. Last year he sailed into the chamber dressed in a full bishop’s robes complete with a tall gold embroidered mitre and his trademark smoky eye. The outfit was to draw attention to a bill he was proposing outlawing any expression of traditional Christian views about sexuality. Luévano wants to effectively ban Christianity. He received astonishingly little press, considering.
As head of a Catholic pro-family group, Cortés was bound to respond, and when he did, he referred to Luévano’s biological sex. He called Luévano “a man who describes himself a woman,” which he is and I’m actually not sure that Cortés could plausibly have done otherwise. For Cortés, sex is about making babies, not ensuring that “papacito” gets home happy. This requires a firm grip on actual biological sex. Anyway, for better or for worse that’s what Cortés did, and it’s for this, the “misgendering” of deputy Luévano, that he has been put through the wringer.
Luévano filed a complaint against Cortés, and the judge who heard the case agreed that he had committed a terrible crime. Cortés was convicted of “gender-based political violence,” fined, and ordered to undergo extensive “retraining.” The irony of convicting Cortés for violence is that Luévano and his friend García actually pushed an elderly congressman out of his chair last year and grabbed his microphone mid-debate. Physical violence is so old hat, especially in a narco state. Cortés was also put on an official list called the National Register of Persons Sanctioned in Political Matters Against Women. I’ve looked up this list and there are hundreds of names on it, including another congressman who called Luévano “Sir.”
As well as the text of the public apology Cortés has been ordered to post, the court’s judgment and it makes for amazing reading. Here’s an edited extract.
We conclude that these expressions are hostile and violent, directed at your person… we decide to hold Rodrigo Iván Cortés Jimenez, and the association “Frente Nacional por la Familia” responsible, and impose a fine and ask them to publicly apologize to you [Luévano]. In addition, we ask Rodrigo Iván Cortés Jiménez to be sensitized with readings and courses to prevent him from repeating these behaviors against you or any other woman or trans person or the LGBTTTIQA+ community, to gradually deconstruct himself and become aware of the damage generated towards you.
Cortés must gradually deconstruct himself, in order to achieve an egalitarian society. What on earth does that look like? Death by PowerPoint? How will they tell when he’s sufficiently “sensitized?”
The judgment ends: “What you have done today, Salma, is a sign of courage that promotes the perpetuation of a more tolerant humanity, without stigmas and prejudices, because it is not about being equal but about respecting differences. Thank you for raising your voice and may it always echo!”
Yes. Thank you, Salma. May you always echo. And thank you especially for the message you shared on Twitter in May, after you met up with one of the judges due to hear Cortés’s case. The judge was Felipe Fuentes Barrera and the meeting took place the day before Cortés’s last available appeal. Luévano shared with his followers what a terrific time he and Barrera had had talking about, “the importance of affirmative actions for the LGBTTTIQA+ population.”
Morena owes its popularity as a party to the fact that it promised to ensure due process and not to pander to an entitled elite. It’s almost reassuring to see how little has changed.