The social and political turmoil underlying the riots in Brazil represents just one challenge facing an era of change in Latin America. Not only are economic conditions being called into question, but social conditions have also faced recent attention. In the largely Catholic Dominican Republic, religious leaders had been pressuring president Danilo Medina since last Friday to reject the nomination of openly gay US ambassador, James Brewster, calling the appointment “an insult to good Dominican customs” and “a lack of respect, of consideration” in an interview with the Associated Press. This comes just after the US Supreme Court issued rulings on two landmark cases concerning gay marriage – Hollingsworth v Perry and US v Windsor. Despite the recent advances in gay rights within the United States, however, the highly conservative populace of the Dominican Republic appeared hard-pressed to accept the nomination, what some religious activists believe is an attempt by the United States at “exporting” gay rights. Gay marriage was banned in the Dominican Republic in 2010.
Nonetheless, Dominican social activists and nonprofit LGBT groups have been retaliating since last week against the conservative pressure as they plan the annual Santo Domingo gay pride parade. Despite the unwillingness of the administration to comment on the situation last week, standard procedure suggests that the Dominican government was consulted even before the US announced Brewster’s nomination. This morning, the Dominican Republic embassy in Washington declared that Brewster’s nomination had been accepted. The official statement reads: “The Dominican Republic is a democracy with a vibrant media and a wide diversity of opinions… a person’s sexual preference is strictly a personal matter.” Only time will tell whether the conservative warnings issued last week by religious leaders – “If he arrives, he’s going to suffer, and he’ll have to leave,” said Vicar Pablo Cedano – will prove true for the new ambassador.