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In Colombia, Bogotá opens two more LGBT community centers

BOGOTA, Colombia -- In 2007, Bogotá became the first city in Latin America to open an LGBT community center. This week, just after the annual commemoration of Bogotá Pride, the city government is tripling its commitment with two more.

From 2007 to 2010, more than 25,000 people have been served with psychological counseling, legal advice and other activities at the Centro Comunitario LGBT in the gay nightlife district of Chapinero. Originally supported by LGBT rights organization Colombia Diversa, gay nightclub Theatrón and Profamilia, the Colombian International Planned Parenthood affiliate, in conjunction with the city government, today the center is 100% operated and financed by the city.

“Bogotá is a city of rights – diverse and inclusive – and we invite all Bogotanos to get two know those two new centers,” said Olga Beatriz Gutiérrez Tovar, head of IDPAC, the city institute for participation and community action.

One of the new centers in the working-class neighborhood of Bosa is dedicated to LGBTQ youth.

“Young people in Bogotá, whose parents often don’t accept them for who they are, who are told by church leaders that they are sinners and who must hide their sexuality in school for fear of bullying need spaces where they can talk about sexuality issues in a safe and non-judgmental environment,” said Marcela Sánchez, executive director of Colombia Diversa. “They need places where they can simply be themselves. LGBT community centers are such place, and are making a positive impact on their lives.”

The second new center is located in the Los Mártires neighborhood and will serve transgendered people.

Sánchez said that with mayoral elections coming this October, it is unclear whether the three LGBT community centers will continue to be supported by the next mayor.