“The world is dressing up in diversity.”

2 men sit with a woman behind a desk with a computer

two men sit on a motorbikeInterview with a same-sex couple who requested a joint title to formalize their property in Chaparral, Tolima.

Challenging prejudices and building a more equal future where differences are respected, Mauro Julián Sánchez and Nelson Fabián Solano, a gay couple who requested the joint title of their rural parcel in Chaparral, Tolima, share their experience as part of the implementation of the Rural Property and Land Administration Plan (POSPR) led by the National Land Agency with support from the USAID Land for Prosperity Activity. To date, the large-scale land formalization initiative in Chaparral has resulted in three joint title applications that benefit same sex couples.

a man outside working on a houseWhat is the story of your parcel and how did you purchase it?

Mauro: We each lived in our parents’ house, but we wanted to have a joint parcel, something that belonged to both of us. We decided to buy a parcel to have something that was ours. However, we still don’t have the registered property title to our name. The parcel is two hectares and we work on it with our parents. We grow cassava, plantain and cacao in an organic way, without chemicals, to take care of the environment. We are also dabbling in aquaculture, creating ponds for fish farming.

What was your motivation to submit the joint title application to the National Land Agency?

Nelson: We are the kind of couple that is not common, that sometimes is frowned upon in some rural areas, but we are breaking stereotypes, which is beautiful. We have to start teaching communities that the world is dressing up in diversity. Our motivation is to make sure diversity is understood and respected, specifically when it comes to land formalization and access.

What does it mean to you to have your land titled as a same sex couple?

2 men sit with a woman typing on her computerMauro: It means a lot to us. In rural areas, homosexuality is sometimes negatively perceived, but our idea is to settle down and to be economically stable in the countryside. We want to access benefits such as loans to continue expanding our productive project and become a business. We want to be role models, show the community that the countryside can be profitable not just through production, but also through transformation. We don’t want to be seen just through discriminatory eyes, we want to show that we are capable of doing things better than a straight couple.

Do you think this process highlights the importance of a gender and inclusion approach for the LGBTIQ+ community when it comes to land access?

Nelson: The inclusion of every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is fundamental to guarantee equality and respect for the rights under land use planning and administration. We participated in a registration session to promote the inclusion of the LGBTIQ+ population in the formalization process, as part of the implementation of the government’s agrarian reform outlined in the Peace Accords.

What would you say to other same sex couples that are considering applying for joint titling?

a family sits with a man typing on his computerMauro: We want to tell them that, regardless of differences, as same sex couples we have the same rights and abilities. We should work together and show the world that homosexuality is not something out of the ordinary. Submitting an application for joint titling is a way to confirm our equality, to give visibility and promote the acceptance of diversity by the wider society, when it comes to land access.

Do you think that improved access to land and property rights helps close existing inequality gaps and reduce gender-based violence?

Nelson: Yes, access to land is an opportunity to close inequality gaps in the life projects of same sex couples. It gives us access to resources and projects offered by regional government entities, providing us with more development and improvement possibilities. We want to change the perception that some people have of us, and show society that we can achieve our goals, overcoming the obstacles that limit our objectives.

What does land mean to the LGBTIQ+ community?

Mauro: Land has an important meaning, especially for us, as we have our roots in this area that was hard hit by the conflict. Access to land means food security. Land is life, it is our origin and our destiny. From land we receive everything we need as human beings. That is why we have to work hard for its conservation, recognizing the value and respect we owe it.


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