Elon Musk’s highly anticipated acquisition promises meaningful change for the Twitter landscape, with the prospect of canceled voices being soon released from the dark recesses of Twitter “jail.” Those of us who have lamented the shrinking space for free speech online should celebrate these signs of hope.
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 is a former presidential candidate and current federal congressman in Mexico, representing the National Action Party. He has participated in politics since 1994, in various political parties, and teaches at the Ibero-American University. 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 all branches of government. In the 2021 elections, two Congressional seats reserved for women were given to men who identify as women from the MORENA party.
Mr. Quadri tweeted about the Congressional seats, making the point that it is an injustice for men to take advantage of the law to gain access to political positions reserved 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 account 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 authority rejected both the complaint and a parallel request to impose sanctioning measures on Quadri.
Luevano appealed, and the Superior Chamber of the Federal Electoral Tribunal 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 reprimanding 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 following measures were imposed on Quadri as punishment: 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.
Quadri appealed the decision to the Superior Chamber. His appeal was rejected on June 22, 2022. 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 “political violence”.
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. He is taking his case to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights with the support of ADF International.
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