The so-called "freedom bus," an initiative of the ultra-conservative Catholic group Hazte Oir, or Make Yourself Heard, is still not welcome in Valparaiso, as clashes with LGBT activists in front of Chile's Congress ended in at least nine arrests and various people injured on Wednesday.
Similar clashes were reported on Monday, when the orange conservative bus started its tour across the country in front of the Presidential Palace La Moneda.
According to witnesses, what began as a political demonstration exploded into an ugly fight with participants slinging insults such as “Pedophiles” and “family killers.” The main road was paralyzed and taxi drivers joined the fight until municipal police were required to break up the 300 mixed social activists using tear gas and water.
Two days later, the bus was parked in front of the Congress building, defending the motto “Leave my children alone” and “Don't mess with my children” while activists defending LGBT rights were holding banners promoting sexual diversity.
At the same time, about 300 people marched against the conservative bus in the streets of Valparaiso.
The anti-riot police said that no incident had been reported until the controversial self-called “Father” Javier Soto arrived and started yelling at the LGBT activists with a microphone. Soto was among the people arrested.
Several lawmakers left Congress to speak with protesters and reporters. Communist lawmaker Camila Vallejo called for “respect and inclusion” while Christian-democrat representative Matias Walker, part of the government's progressive coalition, said that “in front of this bus of hatred and discrimination, we want to support the bill on gender identity and equal marriage.”
In June, President Michelle Bachelet introduced in Congress a bill meant to legalize same-sex marriage, while senators approved the “bill on Gender Identity” aimed at addressing discrimination against the LGBT community.
Before Chile, the orange bus had also toured the United States, Mexico and Colombia, as an initiative launched by Citizen Group, a platform for online petitions supporting conservative and ultra-Catholic views on social issues. Founded in 2013, the Spanish association says it is present in more than 50 countries and over 4.7 million of supporters across the world.
In Chile, LGBT groups, led by the Movement for the Homosexual Integration and Liberation, or Movilh, countered the initiative with a blue “diversity bus.” The bus painted with the message,“The future of children is always tomorrow, tomorrow will be too late,” from Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral.