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Mexican Congressman Tried & Convicted as a "Political Offender" Over Censored Tweets, Takes Fight for Free Speech to International Body

Mexican Congressman Tried & Convicted as a "Political Offender" Over Censored Tweets, Takes Fight for Free Speech to International Body

  • ADF International attorneys have filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri. 
  • Quadri was tried and convicted as a “political violator against women” for Tweets expressing concern that men who identify as transgender have taken spaces in Congress reserved for women. 

WASHINGTON, DC (19 December 2022) – ADF International attorneys have filed today a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri. Quadri has been tried and convicted as a “political violator against women,” and risks becoming ineligible to run for office again in violation of his civil and political rights. Quadri was charged following a series of posts he made on Twitter calling attention to the fact that seats in Mexico’s Congress reserved for women were taken by men who identify as transgender.  

Following a failed appeal to Mexico’s Electoral Superior Chamber, all avenues for justice in Mexico have been exhausted, requiring that Quadri take his case to the Inter-American Commission.  

“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,” stated Congressman Quadri.  

Quadri further stated, “we cannot shut down the conversation about women’s rights and speaking about these important issues falls firmly within my free speech rights, protected under national and international human rights law. Anyone is free to challenge my assertions, and I would wholeheartedly defend their free speech right to do so”. 

Representing the Congressman in his petition to the Commission, Julio Pohl, ADF International’s attorney for the case, stated the following: “Everyone should be free to speak without fear of punishment. The silencing and sanctioning of Gabriel Quadri – including forcing him to issue an apology on Twitter several times a day – is not an isolated incident and represents one of the most dangerous threats to democracy in Mexico today. This is a pivotal moment for fundamental freedoms in Mexico. It is our hope that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will admit this case and call on Mexico to comply with its international human rights obligations, respecting freedom of speech for all”. 

“Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right belonging to every person. The silencing of political leaders creates a culture of fear throughout society. Congressman Quadri’s case makes clear that if elected representatives aren’t free to debate the issues of our time, what hope is there for everyone else? Without free speech there can be no freedom, and everyone should be free to voice their opinions without fear of punishment,” further stated Pohl. 

Background 

Gabriel Quadri is a former presidential candidate and current federal congressman in Mexico, representing the opposition National Action Party. He has participated in politics since 1994, in various political parties. 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 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 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 administrative authority rejected both the complaint and a parallel request to impose precautionary 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 judicial 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 Court dismissed the notion of “hate speech” as there was no incitement to violence, yet in a clear contradiction 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 for two years and nine months; 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 confirmed the decision of the SR and ordered 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 electoral authority 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”. 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.   

ADF International is a faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.  

For more on Quadri’s case, visit https://adfinternational.org/gabriel-quadri-mexico/

 

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