Fundación = Iguales and Universidad Viña del Mar (UVM) signed an agreement at the Palais des Flores to help reduce inequalities based on sexual orientation in Chilean society. "This agreement is very important, because for the first time we will go from theory to practice and all the work we have done in research and advocacy for sexual diversity rights will become part of an educational course that will be part of the college’s programs, which is what we are fighting and we need more people to help us, because inequality in Chile is not over," said Andrés Soffia, Executive Director of Fundación = Iguales.
Julio Castro, UVM’s Rector, said he was happy to formalize the alliance and said the university hopes to develop new initiatives through the partnership to promote the university’s’ mission and to help address the challenges facing the Foundation. "We are happy because we are taking one more step to in our mission to train professionals for a diverse world. We are training people for the real Chile, which must embrace diversity, we all think differently, we have some different values, but this must be expressed with respect and tolerance. As we have said many times, we not only accept diversity, but we understand it as an important part of confirming and challenging our own positions," said Castro.
Valentina Verbal, Professor of the General Education course "Sexual Diversity in Chile: Human Rights and Political Challenges", who earned an MA degree in History from Universidad de Chile, also praised the character of this unprecedented agreement.
"I think it is good that the university is open to diversity, because the name university means universality. The fact that having a diversity course and that this can extend to other initiatives such as seminars and outreach activities, including collaboration with the Foundation, research projects, and theses is great, because in reality the people who belong to these groups face extensive discrimination,” says Verbal.
Faculty and students were also happy with the agreement, as it will positively impact students in many related degree programs such as law, sociology, psychology, among others, who see how this addition will contribute substantially to their professional curriculum.
Also present at the signing event were: Juan Pablo Prieto, UVM’s Academic Vice Rector; Sebastian Del Pino, Legislative Coordinator of Fundación = Iguales; Carolina Andaur, UVM’s Director of General Education; Sebastian Godoy, President of UVM’s Student Center; and members of UVM Diversity, Queers PUCV and Diversity UTFSM.
"It is urgent to regularize the situation for trans"
The Executive Director of Fundación – Iguales Andres Soffia also said that the state needs to create more extensive bills that permit same-sex marriage, regularize adoption, remove employment discrimination, among others, and said the best starting point is "with education regarding sexual diversity."
In turn, he added that "the most urgent task today is to regularize the situation of the transgender community, which is the most vulnerable. They do not even have the ability to identify how they feel, they cannot get a job, which prevents them from progressing in life and that has to improve. Subsequently through better laws equal marriage will trigger other civil rights that favor sexual diversity, but the most important today is to regularize the situation of the trans community."
In this regard, Verbal, said that while the issue is still somewhat distant, they like Fundación = Iguales "are working on developing a bill that allows transgender people to obtain legal documentation so they can participate in the world."
This article was originally written in Spanish and has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.