Chilean Govt Uses Homophobic Slurs in Anti-Violence Campaign


A new campaign raising awareness about violence against women is a big FAIL.

Chile's Minister of the National Women's Service, Carol Schmidt Zaldivar, is pushing a campaign with the tagline (translated) "Faggot is he who beats a woman".

The campaign has the support of all the recently-rescued Chilean miners, who are apparently wearing T-shirts with the campaign's tagline. reports:

The Minister, for her part, said that she's thrilled to have the backing of the miners, and hopes that the campaign can truly make a dent in preventing gender-based violence. "[This campaign is] an example of unity and consensus that we as a country want to eradicate domestic violence in Chilean homes," she said.

But by calling men who perpetrate acts of violence against women "Faggots," isn't this campaign just replacing one act of violence with another? Sure seems so, and that's the message coming from a number of LGBT groups in the country who are urging the Chilean government to drop the campaign.

The group Soy Hombre Soy Mujer released a press release late last week, saying that this campaign is only going to increase homophobia and anti-gay sentiment in Chile, where statistics show a nearly 600% increase in recent years of violence toward the LGBT community. has posted the petition from Soy Hombre Soy Mujer.


  1. says

    I looked into this too, but in Chile, faggot means “coward,” not “faggot.”

    Spanish is a rich language and varies widely between countries and one word does not always means the same thing somewhere else.

  2. Smokey says

    A note on the Chilean use of ‘maricon’ [literally “faggot”]:

    It is, for all intents and purposes a word that connotes more than just homosexuality, but, rather, a nuissance / burden — something more along the adjectival lines of “bloody” (in the British sense) or “f*cker” (in the American sense).

    Which is why one often hears Chileans say things like, “me queme con esa olla maricona” (“I burned myself with that f*cking / bloody pot”), or “me mordio esa perra maricona” (“that f*cking / bloody bitch bit me!”). In the case of the ad above, then, the message can be translated more accurately into “A man who beats a woman is a motherf*cker.”

    But it’s true: ‘maricon’ can also be used in its original (noun) sense to refer, derrogatively, to gay men. But given that Chileans are known to swear a lot, the non-identitarian (adjectival) use of ‘maricon’ has become the more common usage, almost to the point of being unconscionable / second-nature. It doesn’t make any less harmful, though.

  3. Andalusian Dog says

    The ironic thing is that the ministry is pushing for the use of homophobia to curb misogyny — when homophobia is largely born of misogyny, i.e., “men not acting like real men,” men who challenge paradigmatic ways of acting “like a man.” Shame.

  4. Tom says

    Kind of like “that’s so gay.” Not necessarily meant by everyone who uses it to be homophobic in a particular context, but everyone still knows that it is homophobic nonetheless.

  5. Fenrox says

    There was a South Park episode a bit back that explained how the F word has been used as a pejorative for lots of groups, It will move from our group eventually.

  6. Smokey says

    This video is most telling:

    The celebrity speaker says, “Growing up as a kid, people have told me that I am a ‘maricon’ [a faggot], but who REALLY is the ‘maricon’ [the cowardly motherf*cker]…?” Then he goes on to speak of domesetic abuse…

    Tom, I think, makes a useful comparison.

  7. El Chileno says

    As a Chilean, I can tell you three things about this campaign.

    1. “Maricón” does indeed refer to both “faggot” and “coward”. The original meaning was used for the word “coward”.

    2. The man in the poster and in a couple of the PSA spots is Jordi Castell, a TV presenter who is one of the few openly Gay celebrities in Chile. In one of his spots he makes it clear that the ad campaign was meant to play on both meanings of the word.

    3. In my opinion, the ad works in Chile and fails elsewhere. There is no way to escape the reference to “faggot” in any other country, but in Chile, it is possible to understand the original campaign as a cry against homophobia and against domestic violence. That being said, a lot depends on the sophistication or education of the viewer – in which case, the ad fails.

    Just my take on it.

  8. says

    So many apologists for an ad campaign that A CHILEAN ORGANIZATION finds offensive.

    People claim the original meaning is leached out of all kinds of expressions in many languages all the time. That’s so gay. Don’t be a pansy! Don’t be a sissy! (There are Russian equivalents to using “maricon” (pidar’) supposedly as “just an expletive”) But note: these are ALWAYS NEGATIVE and always about “not being a real man.”

    If you are gay/queer/maricon/sissy and hear these messages, they have an effect.

  9. ratbastard says

    The word maricon has a gay connection in all of Latin America. It’s a lie to say in Chile there’s no gay meaning to the word. It does mean ‘fucker’ but it also implies homosexual, i.e. faggot.

  10. lodenmuse says

    This campaign is genius.

    It uses the richness of the Spanish language to make a strong, serious point by taking the derision associated with “maricón” and directing it towards its proper target. Simultaneously controversial and sophisticated. Context is important. Though I’m sure people will wince when Jay-Z shoots the US campaign:

    “…But you know who the real n!gger is?–Someone who beats a woman.”

    Yes, sometimes to drive it home, you really do have to slap the mo+herfuc4ers upside the head.

    (And yes, it’s sad that I had to get crea+!ve to place this post.)

  11. Steve M. says

    Hey great! So now the word ‘faggot’ means wife beater. By taking a homophobic slur and redefining it, they actually did us more of a favor than anything else. If anything, we should jump on board with this new usage.

  12. TANK says

    This is premised on an ignorance of domestic violence. DV is caused by sexism, and sexism causes homophobia…so it endorses homophobia and sexism to address an effect of sexism. Very damaged and/or ignorant people would defend this.

  13. BobN says

    Yeah, well, it might be OK in Chile, but to encourage the miners to wear the t-shirts when they are the most publicized individuals in the Spanish-speaking world is not OK.

  14. Alosjs says

    Marc, “maricon” is not coward, their excuse is to say that it means coward so they can use it.

    It’s me like saying, when they say “that’s so gay” they are not saying that that is disgusting like gay people, they are saying it’s dumb, so it’s ok to use it.

    I’m from Latin America, just like they use “that’s so gay” to say something is dumb & stupid like a gay person for them, they use the word maricon = faggot, to say somethig is coward & stupid, like a gay person for them.

    Faggot is used to call something weak, & that comes from homophobia, people think we gays are weak & disgusting so to call something weak, coward or dumb they use the words gay, faggot, maricon, because they see those words & us the LGBT community as that.

    So yeah, this is not ok, just as saying that “that’s so gay” is ok because it means dumb & no gay disgusting is not ok, when it even comes from that idea.

    So yeah, faggot & maricon are gay slurs, just as “that’s so gay”. No matter what excuse you put.

  15. Alosjs says

    Maricon comes from insulting gay people, it’s like saying “Saying “that’s so gay” it’s ok because now it means “dumb” even if it comes from hating gays”.

    That’s a lame excuse full of lies, it COMES from hating gays, & it means dumb by using the word “gay” that means you htink gay people are dumb. It’s like saying “Now the N word means idiot”, ummm… so you’re using a slur for more hate using the same slur saying that black people are not only disgusting black but now stupid too? Ok.

    I mean, homophobics are taught that we are disgusting & say “You’re so gay” to say something is disgusting like gay people. And now they are saying it like “dumb” when it comes from getting it from saying this is dumb like gay people.

    So maricon means faggot, & when they say it’s coward and not faggot doesn’t make sense AT ALL, because when you are saying maricon is coward, you are saying that maricon is coward like gay people because it means faggot.

    So yeah, it’s an insult to LGBT people.

    The ad is actually saying “Hey straight guys, if you beat a woman you are a faggot, a gay man, who is coward, so since you hate gays, I bet you don’t want to become one, so don’t hit women”.

    There, happy?

  16. ratbastard says

    Once again Americans trying to tell other people and other countries what to do.

    POSTED BY: HALELY | NOV 22, 2010 5:36:35 PM


    Sarcasm, Haley?

  17. jaragon says

    Maricon means faggot in all Spanish speaking countries- they may try to say it means “coward” but really no one use it that way. In Latin macho culture a gay man is still considered the worse thing you can be. The people behind the add obviously knew what they were doing- you beat a woman you are a faggot.

  18. Smokey says

    Indeed, the Chileans on this site ARE NOT DENYING the fact that ‘maricon’ means ‘faggot’ across Latin-America (Chile included). What they are saying is that ~specifically~ in Chile, ‘maricon’ is ALSO used to denigrate men in a non-homophobic way since ‘maricon’ has taken on a NEW, yet separate meaning that is similar to the American ‘motherfucker’. A meaning detached of any homophobic sensibilities, as opposed to the inaccurate (because it is still mildly homophobic) ‘coward’ people have suggested above.

    As a Chilean, I can tell you all that it is really quite simple to tell the difference between the homophobic ‘maricon’-as-noun (faggot) and the orientation-neutral ‘maricon’-as-adjective (motherfucker), since the meaning a speaker gives it depends PRECISELY in the way one uses the word (you just have to hear it to know). Indeed, it is a far more nuanced distinction than the non-Chileans above might have us believe.

    But yes, I am of the opinion that the English translation of the Chilean ad copy is a STUPID technical / linguistic mistake that erroneously went with the ‘literal’ (i.e. homophobic noun) meaning of the word as opposed to the ‘figurative’ (i.e. adjectival) meaning — that is, the ‘motherfucker’ sense of the word. This coming from a Spanish-to-English translator who was born in Chile and raised in the US. So y’all can trust me on this one.

  19. Lexxvs says

    La mayoría de los hispano parlantes sabemos que la palabra maricón se usa principalmente para indicar cobardía en su sentido femenino –es decir, la palabra también es misógina- y por extensión y por uso se aplica como sinónimo indivisible para el homosexual y por prejuicio. Por ello, decir y quedarse en “cobarde” es de lenguaje neutro y hasta elevado, pero maricón implica el intento de insulto, con la ventaja agregada de la asociación con una sexualidad considerada impropia. Es decir, “maricón” agrega a la cobardía otro insulto.
    El uso en la campaña me parece impropio aún teniendo el sentido original de cobarde, puesto que nadie que conozca Chile ignora que el país es aún fuertemente homofóbico y por tanto no existe margen de seguridad alguno. La Iglesia Católica de Chile tiene aún una fuerza de influencia sobre esa sociedad rara para el resto de Latinoamérica y se debe a una alianza aún intacta con las derechas conservadoras de ese país, que no sufrieron el escarnio debido como en países como Argentina, donde la Iglesia quedó fuertemente desprestigiada.

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