A complaint has been filed in Ecuador against cartoonist Javier Bonilla (aka Boni) and the newspaper that published his work, El Universo, for “discrimination, sexism, and transphobia.”
At issue is a cartoon drawn by Bonil that El Universo ran on December 28, 2015. The cartoon features two women, one of whom is pregnant. When asked whether she’s having a boy or girl, the pregnant woman replies “I don’t now. We’ll see what the baby chooses for its ID.” A coalition of LGBTQ groups filed the complaint with Supercom, Ecuador’s governmental censorship agency, alleging that the cartoon violates Article 62 of Ecuador’s communication law, which prohibits “discriminatory content that has the purpose or effect of undermining or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights recognized in the Constitution and by international entities.”
¡NUEVAMENTE denunciado ante la SUPERCOM! pic.twitter.com/Bk0ekZhk8b
— Xavier Bonilla (@bonilcaricatura) January 8, 2016
This isn’t Bonil’s first run-in with Supercom. In February 2015, Bonil was charged with socioeconomic discrimination for a cartoon mocking Afro-Ecuadorian legislative assemblyman, Agustin “Tin” Delgado. Supercom forced Bonil and El Universo to publicly apologize for the cartoon, and Bonil was fined $500,000 for the infraction. Adding insult to injury, an individual claiming to be a member of ISIS threatened to “kill the wretch” after El Universo ran a Bonil cartoon mocking the terrorist organization in early March 2015.
Supercom has long been denounced by free speech organizations in Ecuador and abroad. Bonil counts himself among those opponents, and spoke about the state of free expression in Ecuador in an interview with Sampsonia Way last fall:
“But what we face today is different because the war against private media communications has been established as an opened and declared government policy. Therefore, the climate is hostile not only for cartoonists, but also for journalism in general.”
CBLDF will continue to follow this latest governmental review of Bonil’s work and will post updates as more information becomes available.