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Puerto Vallarta Police and business officials recently held a town park meeting to assure residents of the LGBT community that it was the police department’s mission to keep residents and visitors of the LGBT community safe, and have set up a special WhatsApp phone number to report harassment or concerns.
The meeting was held at the request of the Colectivo Vallarta LGBT group, amidst concerns that there had been an increase in harassment by police of gay couples expressing affection in public areas (holding hands, kissing). Some of the couples were issued citations by the police (it is NOT illegal for gay couples to hold hands or kiss in public areas in Puerto Vallarta).
In the past the police have shown support for the community – even marching in the annual LGBT Pride Parade. This meeting proved to be no different, with the police chief assuring attendees that they would address recent issues and do more diversity training for its officers. It was recently reported that diversity training was held as recently as last July. See that story here.
In a written account of the meeting, as posted in the Facebook group “Puerto Vallarta: Everything You need or want to know” – Tricia Lyman and Michael Douglas, wrote that the November 26, 2018 meeting (held at Lazaro Cardenas Park) included Vallarta Chief of Police, Misael Lopez, who talked about the recent issues of what may have been perceived harassment of LGBT couples by police officers.
“Details of the incident (e.g. what the couples were doing, who reported what) were not made public.,” Douglas said in the Facebook group posting. “The meeting clarified what was acceptable behavior, ways to report any kind of harassment, and your right not to be targeted based on your sexual orientation. Most importantly, it emphasized the commitment of local authorities to protect the safety of all people regardless of orientation.”
“Sr. Lopez assured the large gathering of people, which included locals, residents & tourists from the gay community, as well as those of us that were there in support, that the Police are 100% behind keeping the gay community and all people of Vallarta safe,” wrote Lyman and Douglas. “They will be having further training of the police to sensitize them to the different culture.”
The Facebook group post included this information:
“The police department has set up a WhatsApp phone number that is solely for the purpose of taking calls/texts regarding any harassment or uncomfortable concerns of all people. This includes not only gay hand holding, kissing or signs of affection, it also includes any harassment or shakedown of anyone.
The number ALL should have programmed into your phones is +52 322 245 0600. When texting to this number, English speaking contacts will be receiving your messages.”
The number, as of November 29, 2018, was not yet operational. Please continue to monitor and check the number.
“You have the right to ask to see the officers badge and to take a photo of it. The officer must be in uniform, as well. All concerns will be taken seriously, as the city totally understands and supports the contribution the gay community, its foreign residents and tourists make to Vallarta,” they wrote in the group posting. “They want to keep you SAFE!”
“However, they can’t do this without everyone’s help!” they added. “You MUST report it or they have nothing to act on!! Also, please report incidents that you witness! So use the WhatsApp or seek help by visiting the FREE attorneys located in the Tourist Legal Aide in the building on the southeast corner of the Lazaro Cardenas Park (Old Town).”
Here are some Facebook Live videos from the meeting: