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Defending Free Speech in Mexico


Topic | Free Speech

Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri has been labeled a “political violator against women” after expressing concern that men who identify as women have taken spaces in Congress reserved for women. For standing up for women’s opportunities, he could lose the right to run for office again.

The highest electoral court in Mexico ruled that statements made by Quadri on Twitter about the situation are discriminatory, and ordered him to delete his Tweets, issue a compelled public apology, and be registered as a gender-based political violator—censorship measures that clearly infringe on his civil and political rights as a Mexican citizen and breach his international human right to free speech.

ADF International is bringing Quadri’s case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Gabriel Quadri

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Advocacy Team:
Tomás Henríquez, Julio Pohl

"In standing up for my right to free speech, I am fighting for the free speech rights of my constituents, and those of every Mexican. My career has been dedicated to a prosperous and free Mexico for all, and that demands that our country abide by its human rights obligations. I am committed to safeguarding our precious democratic values, and for this reason will seek justice at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights."


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Case Summary

Gabriel Quadri is a former presidential candidate and current federal congressman in Mexico, representing the National Action party (PAN). He has participated in politics since 2012. He has an economics and engineering background, and advances issues relating to environmental sustainability and economic reform as part of his platform.  

As of 2019, Mexico has in place a law requiring 50/50 representation of men and women in Congress. In the 2021 elections, two Congressional seats assigned to women were given to males who identify as women from the MORENA party.  

Mr. Quadri Tweeted about the Congressional seats, making the point that it is an injustice for males to take advantage of the law to gain access to political positions designated for women. In March 2022, Salma Luevano, a MORENA member of Congress who identifies as a transgender woman, filed a complaint before the National Electoral Institute accusing Quadri of “gender based political violence” (GBPV) on the basis of eleven of his Tweets. 

The Tweets broadly covered issues relating to “trans ideology,” contained no foul language, and in no way amounted to an incitement to violence. Luevano claimed that he was the subject of these Tweets, although no person was named. The electoral body rejected both the complaint and a parallel request to impose sanctioning measures on Quadri.   

Luevano appealed, and the Superior Chamber reversed the decision, sending the case to the Specialized Regional (SR) Chamber (the body tasked with deciding punitive administrative procedures). ADF International supported Mr. Quadri through an amicus brief. On April 21st, the SR Chamber issued a unanimous decision sanctioning Quadri for GBPV.  

As held by the Court: “The expressions analyzed were intended to deny the identity of trans women, thus they violate the right to identity, which in turn is a form of denial of equal dignity, thus the tweets are discriminatory”. Moreover, the tweets “had the intention of undermining the exercise of the political-electoral rights of trans women and of Salma Luevano in particular, and they were based on gender elements.”  

The Court dismissed the notion of “hate speech” as there was no incitement to violence, yet framed the Tweets as psychological, sexual, and digital forms of violence against women.  

The following measures were imposed on Quadri as punishment: requirements to (i) delete the tweets, (ii) issue a public apology drafted by the Court without Quadri’s input and post a summary of the decision on Twitter for 15 days at two set times per day, (iii) complete two courses on gender-based violence and transgender violence, and (iv) be registered as a gender-based political violator; a measure that could jeopardize his ability to run for office in the future. Finally, the Court shared the case with the Comptroller of the Congress to impose further sanctions on Quadri. He is awaiting these sanctions. 

Quadri appealed the decision to the Superior Chamber. His appeal was rejected. The Superior Chamber did order the lower court to determine the duration for which Quadri shall remain registered as a GBPV violator.   

The decision may have further damaging repercussions for Quadri in the future. As a legal requirement for eligibility to run for office, all candidates must exhibit personal conduct classified as an “honest way of living”. The Superior Chamber noted that the mere fact that Quadri had been found guilty in this case and registered as a violator was not sufficient to defeat the presumption of honest living and make him ineligible. However, it will be up to the National Electoral Institute to rule on his eligibility when he registers his candidacy in the future, and it could declare him ineligible if it finds that he has disobeyed the Court or committed further acts of “violence”. Thus, Quadri currently lives under the very real threat of having his speech policed on penalty of becoming ineligible to run for any public office in the future.   

With the decision of the appeal by the Superior Chamber, all domestic remedies were exhausted. With the support of ADF International, Quadri’s appeal was filed at the Inter American Commission for Human Rights on December 19, 2022. 

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