Chile: IGLHRC mourns the death of Luis Gauthier

Luis Gauthier, a longtime Chilean activist for the rights of gay men, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people and people living with HIV/AIDS, died last Sunday, October 22nd, in New York City, USA. Luis was the Regional Secretary for Latin American and the Caribbean with the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was honored to count him among the members of its International Advisory Board.

It is very difficult to summarize the achievements of a lifetime devoted to fight against homophobia and discrimination at local, regional and international levels. We will only mention here some of the campaigns in which Luis took an active part and for which he will be remembered.

During the II Summit of the Americas (Santiago de Chile, 15-19 April, 1998), the participating Presidents were faced for the first time in their lives with a document detailing the hardships and aspirations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of the Americas, signed by more than 80 organizations. The document itself, the collection of signatures and the lobby to make it accessible to the authorities had been the product of more than a year of hard work by activists in the region, lead and inspired by Luis. Immediately after the Summit, he started planning and even stronger campaign for the next meeting of Presidents, that will take place in Canada next year.

Luis was also instrumental in the struggle against the Chilean sodomy laws, that were finally repealed in December 23, 1999, after years of intense efforts by local activists.

He will be remembered by his ongoing efforts to promote cooperation and alliances between activists, at national, regional and international level. In his country, he contributed to the fusion of different organizations in the "Movimiento Unificado de Minorías Sexuales" (Unified Sexual Minorities Movement). At regional level, he worked tirelessly to integrate organizations and individuals into ILGA, to strengthen its organizational structure and to advance its work. The ambitious and wide ranging Human Rights Program that ILGA Latin America will launch in its next Conference (Rio de Janeiro, November 11-14, 2000) is Luis' legacy to activists in the region. And at international level, he traveled extensively to secure contacts and resources for ILGA work in the region and to teach audiences worldwide about human rights issues of concern to LGBT and HIV+ people in Latin America.

Those of us in IGLHRC who had the privilege of working with him will miss his sense of humor, his humanity and his deep commitment to the cause of equality for all, without discrimination or injustice. We will be inspired by his strength, by his refusal to abandon his dreams of a better world and his efforts to make it a reality, even when death was already calling him.