On Sunday, October 27, residents of Bogota, Colombia, took a significant step forward in electing Claudia López as mayor – the city’s first woman mayor and an out lesbian.
As NBC News reported shortly after, López’s victory came after running “on a platform of promising to combat corruption and advance equal rights for minority communities,” including LGBTQ+ Colombians.
An “Important Advancement” and a Global Resonance
López is a member of Allianza Verde (“Green Alliance”), a national opposition party composed of center-left to centrist constituencies. The mayor-elect previously served as a Senator for the party and became involved in politics during the student movements of the late 1980s and early 1990s, following her studies at Columbia and Northwestern Universities in the U.S.
Beyond an impressive resume, López’s victory marks a groundbreaking victory by an LGBTQ mayoral candidate in the Americas: She’s the first mayor of a capital city in the Western Hemisphere. And, with over 7 million residents, Bogota becomes one of the world’s largest cities ever to have an out-LGBTQ mayor.
(For comparison, Chicago—with just under 3 million residents—is the largest U.S. city with an out mayor – Lori Lightfoot, who resoundingly won her runoff election in April 2019. Before Lightfoot, Houston’s openly gay Mayor Annise Parker held the honor from 2010 through 2016.)
“We’re Changing History”
While recognizing the historical nature of her victory (and punctuating the moment by kissing her partner, Angélica Lozano), Mayor-elect López now faces complicated challenges in governing the Colombian capital.
This is @ClaudiaLopez, the new mayor of #Bogota, kissing her partner @AngelicaLozanoC in celebration after today’s elections. This is a momentous symbol, a sign of change and of good things to come. That I have the privilege of calling them my friends only makes this sweeter. pic.twitter.com/1LIF9ad8c1
— Renata Segura (@renaticas) October 28, 2019
Among them, according to BBC News, López identified priorities like “putting more police on the streets, fighting child labor and creating better educational opportunities for people over 45.”
The first policy issue—safety and security—became a recurring theme of the recent elections. As BBC reported, “seven candidates were killed, a dozen were attacked and more than 100 received threats across the country.”
Overall, political violence has ebbed in recent years, and especially since 2016, when guerrilla group FARC signed a peace agreement with the Colombian government “after more than 50 years” of civil war.
López will be sworn in on New Year’s Day 2020.