Two men in the Mexican resort town of Tulum were arrested by heavily armed police after kissing on a public beach in front of families and children, but police were forced to release the men after a large and vocal crowd gathered to protest their detention. Video of the arrests and gathering crowd went viral after being posted to Facebook by Noti Tulum, and now local LGBTQ+ groups are continuing to protest the actions of the police.
“No! No! No!” some in the crowd chanted as the two speedo-clad men were loaded into the back of a pickup truck.
“I’m gay, too!” others in the crowd began chanting after learning of the reason for the arrest of the two men.
The crowd continued to grow, surrounding the masked police who were eventually forced to release the men.
In a statement accompanying the video on Facebook, Maritza Escalante of Morales of the Municipal de Mujeres en Movimiento Tulum de Movimiento Ciudadano wrote the police were “violent” and said they were arresting the two men because it happened in the presence of “families and children and they cannot be seeing this.’”
Escalante protested to the officers, saying “they were not committing any crime” but instead “they KISSED like any other couple.”
According to Escalante, the conflict began after two police officers observed the two men sharing a kiss, and then later returned with two ATVs full of heavily armed and protected officers. The police placed the two men in handcuffs, and tried to arrest them before the crowd gathered in protest and forced their release.
In another post, according to translation, the police allege they arrested the men after a citizen complaint. The arrests were under the pretense of "immoral acts and sexual erotic demonstrations, on the road or public places." The police report alleged that there were three individuals engaged in oral sex on a public road. The police assert that there was no homophobia, and the accusations began because one of the men yelled out that he was victim of discrimination. According to the police, the men were only released to deescalate the situation.
Fliers for a kiss-in protest have been circulating. The event is set for Sunday.
Mexico has made progress on protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in some states, but lags in others. Marriage equality was legalized in 2010 in all but one state, and discrimination based on sexual orientation was also outlawed. Large cities with progressive leadership are generally more inclusive and affirming for the LGBTQ+ community, such as Mexico City which banned conversion therapy last year, but hate crimes often go unpunished in smaller, more conservative areas. Last October, the famed gay beach resort Mantamar Beach Club was fined after video was released showing two men having sex in a see-through pool visible to passersby on a public beach.
While Escalante and the crowd were able to force the release of the two men, she is still “furious” about the event.
“We all deserve the same treatment, and the corresponding sanctions must be applied to these elements,” she said.