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By: Minali Aggarwal. This semester I got the chance to experience one of my favorite festivals from a Latin American perspective: pride parade. Since , when Argentina voted to legalize gay marriage, same-sex couples have been eligible for the same benefits and protections as heterosexual couples, including adoption.
In addition to legal marriage, Argentina permits gays and lesbians to serve in the military and allows individuals to change their legal gender. The LGBT community has clearly made significant political progress in Argentine society over the last several years. For Argentines, la marcha del orgullo pride parade is a way to celebrate their progress and show their dedication to ensuring a future of social equality not only for individuals that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, but for all individuals who have faced some kind of social discrimination.
One of these groups I got to see during the parade has a particularly controversial fight in Argentina: los trabajadores sexuales sex workers. Sex workers in Argentina, who are more commonly referred to as prostitutes on the other side of the debate, have been fighting for autonomous use of their bodies. Under the law, prostitution, defined as exchanging sex for money, is legal.
However, organized prostitution, in which brothels, prostitution rings, and pimping are involved, is illegal. The issue in Argentina is that prostitution is extremely hard to monitor. Much of the debate surrounding prostitution in Argentina is focused around whether or not the illegality of organized prostitution is what has put women in danger.
While the state argues that it has taken these measures to protect these women against violence, the women argue that banning their right to use their bodies for their work is violence in itself. They also argue that the state put them in a destitute situation in the first place by not providing ample economic opportunity and means of finding work. The state has faced a great deal of difficulty in cracking down on organized prostitution while keeping prostitution itself legal.