A group of same-sex couples staged a kiss-a-thon outside an upscale shopping mall in Colombia’s capital on Wednesday in support of LGBT rights.
The move of solidarity came a few days after two gay men in their early 20s were harassed at the Andino shopping center by a man who pushed them and yelled profanities at them while accusing them of fondling each other in front of a group of children.
Esteban Miranda and Nicolas Tellez denied the allegations and said they were only hugging and holding hands just like any other couple would do. They quickly called the police for help but were instead fined for indecent exposure.
The incident was caught on video and went viral while sparking an onslaught of support for the young gay couple. That was followed up by the same-sex kiss-a-thon that took place on Wednesday night. Paola Gutierrez, 21, attended the event with her girlfriend who she gave a heartfelt kiss on the lips after a protest organizer with a megaphone urged participants to express their “freedom” to love.
“Kissing someone is no crime,” said Gutierrez, who wore a pair of rainbow colored suspenders. “All we want is for there to be less divisions in this society, and no discrimination against people over their sexual preferences.”
Though Colombia has legislation in place in support of LGBT rights, experts say homosexuality is still perceived negatively by much of the country’s population. Gutierrez revealed that she and her girlfriend get cat-called by men when they hold hands in public.
Another protester, Nicolas Lara, revealed that he was once sent to a psychiatrist at a public hospital after he told a doctor that he had relationships with other men.
“There’s no place for these incidents in the 21st century,” Lara said. “We need to work toward a more tolerant society.”
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