The Central American nation has a huge social debt to the population of diverse sexual orientations and identities
The world has taken significant steps towards the rights of the sexually diverse population. Many countries in the Americas legalized equal marriage, and others admitted homosexual unions with limited rights. On January 9, 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a concept in consultation with the Costa Rican government, ordering the 20 nations that recognize their competence to guarantee homosexual couples all the faculties of law, without any type of discrimination. The organism also demanded recognition of the right to change names in personal documents according to gender identity.
Costa Rica immediately announced that it will abide by the rulings, although some candidates for the presidency of the nation expressed their disagreement. However, not so the neighboring Honduras: in the absence of a pronouncement of President Orlando Hernandez, one of the vice presidents of the Congress and copartidario of the president, Antonio Rivera, warned that the Constitution of his country does not recognize homosexual marriage, and that the instructions of the Court are not binding.
The Honduran Constitution, in its article 112, "prohibits marriage and de facto union between persons of the same sex"; and adds that in the nation, "marriages or de facto unions between persons of the same sex celebrated or recognized under the laws of other countries will not be valid". Even in its article 116, the text "prohibits the adoption of marriages or unions made up of persons of the same sex". The constitution includes these provisions since 2005, as a result of a reform that made its way despite the guaranteeing trend that was beginning to be observed at the international level, and even though by 1899 the country's legislation had authorized homosexual intimate activity.
Violence and resistance
The Committee on Sexual Diversity of Honduras (CDSH) estimates that more than 10% of the country's population is LGBTI (around 1 million in a total of 8.7 million). Experts have said that the discriminatory orientation of the Constitution is based on a conservative social environment, characterized by machismo, heteronormativity and homophobia. In 2013, a reform to the penal code was approved, which determined as a crime with aggravating circumstances discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, among other issues.
However, hate crimes persist. The CDSH accounts for 280 violent deaths of LGBTI persons between 2009 and May 2017, of which 23 correspond to lesbian women. To the figures are added 4 people killed in November 2017, which gives 31 cases in total for the same year, considerably above the 22 victims reported for 2016. At least 90% of cases are in impunity, according to to the National Commissioner for Human Rights (CONADEH). 12 of the 18 departments of the country have been the scene of the crimes, however about 85% of these are concentrated in Cortés and Francisco Morazán.
At the end of 2015, an application to legalize same-sex couples was presented to the National Congress, without any result. In 2017, 12 LGBTI people competed for different positions on the occasion of the national elections, although without winning any seats. Some candidates to Congress, who are not part of sexual diversity, said they supported equal marriage. However, the presidential candidate for the Anti-Corruption Party, Marlene Alvarenga, pronounced herself in a homophobic tone. She noted that:
Women have sexual rights within what is established by law, which is between a man and a woman. [...] if they wanted to have rights between two women, to say the lesbian-gay marriage, Marlene Alvarenga is totally against, since it is an aberration. The word of God forbids us [...], and the first one that constituted man and woman and formed the family, is called God.
Alvarenga added that if she were elected president, she would push for a project to make Honduras a confessional state.
According to the Lestra Cattrachas Network, the hate speech that characterized the political campaigns of 2017, and above all that of Alvarenga, stimulated violence against the LGBTI population, as reflected in the murders perpetrated in November. Since the coup d'état in 2009 in particular, members of the community have risked constant aggression, sometimes resulting in disappearance, abuse and torture, and even at the hands of state forces. Nonetheless, this situation, which has led some to flee the country, leaves a valuable advantage in any case: an organized community, which advocates and gets involved in the political life of the country, and which gains international visibility. The next challenge will be the validation of the mandate of the IACHR by the government.
Latin American Post | Ricardo Augusto Barón Ramos
Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda