Now Reading
Guatemala’s new law will make LGBTI people and women ‘second-class citizens’

Guatemala’s new law will make LGBTI people and women ‘second-class citizens’

a woman standing outside an official looking building holding two pieces of paper in the air

The central American country of Guatemala is about to pass a law that would discriminate against women and LGBTI people.

Human rights groups have called on Guatemalan legislators to reject ‘extraordinarily dangerous’ “Life and Family Protection” bill. The bill would expand the criminalization of abortion. It could subject women who have miscarriages to prosecution – or at least to questioning by law enforcement authorities.

But the bill also includes definitions of ‘family’ and ‘sexual diversity’ that are openly discriminatory to the basic right of  LGBTI people. Congress has twice approved the proposed legislation and needs a third approval. Finally each individual article needs approval, before the president signs into law.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the bill was dangerous and would seriously undermine the rights of women and LGBT people in the country.

‘If Congress passes this bill, it will send the message that women and LGBT people are second-class citizens in Guatemala,’ said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

‘The proposal lacks basic common sense and humanity and could even turn women and girls who miscarry into criminals.

LGBTI laws

The bill contains provisions that discriminate against LGBT people.

The proposed changes ‘expressly prohibits’ same-sex marriage and defines ‘family’ as limited to a ‘father, mother, and children’.

But those changes also single out trans people. It defines marriage as a union between people who were a man and a woman ‘by birth’ which excludes trans people.

HRW said even though same-sex marriage is not recognized in Guatemala, the bill would entrench and reinforce that unacceptable reality.

The new law also establishes that ‘freedom of conscience and expression’ protect people from being ‘obliged to accept non-heterosexual conduct or practices as normal’. HRW said this seems intended to expressly permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
‘Freedom of conscience and expression are not a blank check to discriminate against LGBT people,’ Vivanco said.

‘The ‘family protection’ provisions in this bill amount to nothing more than the promotion of homophobia.’