New website Sin Etiquetas promotes homophobia-free journalism in Latin America

By Jonathon David Orta

The newly launched Sin Etiquetas, or “No Labels,” is a website dedicated to promoting homophobia-free journalism across Latin America.

The Lima-based website, which aims to promote journalism that gives visibility to the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer) community and create a space for dialogue between LGBTIQ populations in Latin America, is filling a gap left by mainstream media which, according to Sin Etiquetas director Esther Vargas, seldom cover LGBTIQ issues in a positive light.

In part of the effort to eradicate discrimination, abandon labels, and reveal the experiences, challenges, and hopes of LGBTIQ populations in the Americas, the website hopes to act as a site that, in addition to educating, can serve as a platform for investigation and denouncements of crimes committed against LGBTIQ populations.

The speckling of stories on the home page gives a clear snapshot of the types of issues that the publication with cover: Peruvian “homocidio,” legal documents needed for a civil union, and sports out of the closet

Esther Vargas, director of Sin Etiquetas, recently spoke to the Knight Center about the direction and vision of the site.

KC: For the Sin Etiquetas team, what does journalism free of homophobia mean? How do you envision it?

EV: We want to make the achievements, conquests, and problems faced by the LBGTIQ community visible. We are not going to generalize but most of the media promote homophobia through sensational titles or by not clearly discussing the successes related to this minority.

There is constant mistreatment. Not only in the newspapers. We have to keep in mind that television is even more irresponsible [than print media] in many cases. We want to promote respectful journalism that gives visibility to the LGBTIQ community and deals with it not only when bad things happen.

KC: Today we have resources and media platforms that we did not have before. We have ways of creating community that are more important now that ever. What role does Sin Etiquetas hold in promoting an international LGBTIQ community?

EV: We are creating community. We have close to 50 journalists that form part of a network called “La Red de Periodistas Latinoamericanos por un Mundo sin Homofobia” [Latin American Journalists for a World Without Homophobia Network]. The idea is to be able to connect Latin America through a common theme, which helps to confront homophobia [and] intolerance in a way that will promote understanding.

The site management is made up of young journalists, such as director Esteban Marchand. We have brought together our experience and youthfulness to move this medium forward that we believe is necessary, especially as the debates taking place around civil union and homophobia are becoming increasingly more important for the region. This should be celebrated. There is a [spotlight] on the LGBTIQ community and we want to be present and contribute to telling the stories that other media outlets are possibly silencing.

KC: Is Sin Etiquetas the first kind of digital media of this type? Have there been other sources that have influenced the team?

EV: I can’t say if we are the first of our kind. I think we represent an innovative approach in Latin America, but we have references in the United States, such as The Advocate. But perhaps the difference is that we are not activists. We are journalists doing LGBTIQ-themed journalism. We consider the activists as allies, and we want them to see Sin Etiquetas as a platform where they can express themselves, report, and share.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.