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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 00:36 GMT
Mexico's transvestite ban draws gay protest
Tecate resident Vladimir Garcia, 24, also known as Saidi
Tecate's transvestites will not be allowed to cross-dress
Gay rights activists are set to converge on a quiet Mexican border town in the wake of moves to criminalise cross-dressing.

Tecate's new town ordinance, scheduled to go into effect in mid-November, bars men from wearing women's clothes.

The majority of votes for this was to avoid Aids

Cosme Cazares, Tecate Councilman

Men who flout the rule could be arrested and fined.

Transgressors would not face a jail term, although officials said that in practice it may mean imprisoning people at least overnight.

"The majority of votes for this was to avoid Aids, and prostitution if possible," Tecate councilman Cosme Cazares said.

"That's why we're focusing on men who dress like women. This is for health reasons. It's not to bother these boys."

The new law has sparked outrage on both sides of the border, and gay rights protestors plan to hold Tecate's first ever Gay Pride march on Tuesday.

Conduct code

The law is one in a series of measures in a "good conduct" code being taken up by the five municipalities in the Pacific coast state of Baja California, which borders California. Tecate was the first to enact it.

The ban on cross-dressing is one item in a 130-article ordinance that also bans everything from public urination to graffiti.


It's an infraction just like you get for driving the wrong way down the street

Jose Luis Rojo, Town Hall Spokesman
Tecate has already come under fire for imposing a 22:30 curfew on everyone under 18.

In Tijuana, council members pledged this week not to enact the ordinance - after transvestites threatened to publicise the names of officials who have solicited gay prostitutes.

The state's other three municipalities have not taken up the ordinance yet.

Targeted crackdown

Town hall spokesman Jose Luis Rojo said the crackdown on transvestites targets those "who cause - how can I say this - who whistle and yell things at you while you're walking. A lot go out in the night looking for customers and they take advantage of children."

The town of 100,000 is said to be concerned over a rise in the number of transvestites who have moved to Tecate in recent years to escape Tijuana's violence.

"We are not classifying this as a crime," Mr Cazares said.

"It's an infraction just like you get for driving the wrong way down the street."

See also:

04 Sep 01 | Americas
07 May 99 | Education
20 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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