A Kiss Is Just A Kiss But A Kissing World Record Means A Lot More 2009: Mexico Letter

A kiss is just a kiss but a kissing world record means a lot more

MEXICO LETTER: Not everyone was happy with Mexico City’s mayor for organising a mass kissing event SALVADOR IRYS, a 30-year-old charity worker from Mexico
City, had a normal St Valentine’s Day. He got up late, put on a sleeveless T-shirt to show off the tattoos that cover his arms from shoulder to wrist, and headed downtown with his boyfriend Fernando. The two men stood outside Mexico City’s 16th-century national cathedral and locked lips. They were joined by more than 39,000 other smoochers: teenagers, tourists, young couples and old, who gathered in the Zócalo, one of the world’s largest city squares, in a bid to break the world record for the most people kissing simultaneously. For Irys, it was about more than a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Standing outside the austere national palace, home of Mexico’s first congress after independence from Spain, he says that, not so long ago, a friend of his was arrested and fined for kissing her girlfriend on the street. “This is about self-expression,” Irys says. “It’s not so easy to discriminate now – the city has laws to protect you.” The kissing event – called Bésame Mucho (kiss me lots) – is the latest initiative organised by the government of Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard. A lanky figure with Harry Potter-style glasses, Ebrard knows how to make headlines. Previous projects included erecting the world’s largest outdoor ice rink last December, when temperatures regularly broke 20 degrees, and building an artificial beach in summer. More controversially, in a country where the majority call themselves Catholic, Ebrard has legalised abortion and gay marriage.
Bésame Mucho wasn’t just about adding the world’s kissing kudos to the city’s reputation. It was billed as a mass protest against violence against women, which the city government says affects 15 per cent of couples in some age groups.

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