Arcoiris’ political advocacy in Honduras

Laura Arévalo

Latin America

Colombia

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Understanding the situation of people who are part of the LGBT+ community in Honduras requires an analysis of the situation of the legal context of that country. For this reason, Arcoiris has promoted various legal proposals aimed at guaranteeing the quality of life of people who identify themselves as members of this community, given the precariousness of the existing laws regarding the protection of the rights of LGBT+ people. In other words, over the years it has been necessary to demand legal protection services against the abuse and dispossession of identity, aimed daily by non-heterosexual individuals.  

Thus, for the year 2021, various organisations have expressed "an impunity of more than 90% of hate crimes, the Lesbian Network of Cattrachas reports that only 29 out of 150 crimes committed in the last five years have been prosecuted" (Peace Brigades International, p.1, 2020). This is the result of a chain of homophobic actions that are not sufficiently condemned by the law. As a result, the demand for rights is becoming a fundamental pillar of organisations that care for the LGBT+ community in Honduras. As a result, since the establishment of the Sexual Diversity Committee and thanks to the leadership of associations such as Arcoiris, bills have been developed to defend the rights of LGBT+ people.  An example of such a project would be the Equality and Equity Act, which aims to ensure equal and fair treatment for all persons, including other minorities such as indigenous peoples, Afro-Hondurans and persons deprived of liberty, to name but a few. This initiative aims to foster a culture of acceptance of diversity, which promotes and defends the rights of all persons, without discrimination based on gender, skin colour, social status or any other condition.   

On the other hand, the Law on Professional Inclusion has also been promoted, since in Honduras access to work is limited because of sexual orientation or gender identification, which creates obstacles to obtaining decent work. According to a Human Rights Watch report, ''the Honduran government has failed to effectively address violence and discrimination rooted in gender identity and sexual orientation, (...) leading many to seek asylum in the United States'' (2020). This is reflected in the violence that directly affects the community, since access to work is limited to stereotypes based on a duty to be clearly heteronormative, i.e. there is a cultural barrier that prevents access to work for LGBT+ people, as Honduran society believes that morally they are not acting correctly and that their lifestyle is not an example for the country's children, which creates economic gaps that lead to a series of discriminatory actions. 

In addition, by 2021, work has been undertaken to reform the National Register Act, which aims to change the names of transgender people. True identity recognition involves understanding the relevance of the name by which transgender people identify themselves.  Thus, it is foreseen that anyone who feels conflicted about their sex, gender expression or sexual orientation, can change their name, allowing for identity recognition based on their personal construction, which implies a significant step forward in the claim of rights of the LGBT+ community.  

Arcoiris also carries out legislative actions at the international level, in particular with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in order to denounce the violation of the rights of LGBT+ people, in accordance with the role of this organisation in the promotion and protection of rights in the American continent. Thus, multiple recommendations have been made by Central American states to work towards "a table of access to justice, which addresses and respects all the parameters of justice and the analysis of the forms or means, in which LGBT persons can have real access to it" (Esdra Sosa's Personal Statement, 2021). These recommendations are addressed directly to the IACHR, as evidenced in the reports of this Commission and, at the same time, in the avenues of advocacy that are generated by international organisations as a result of these reports.  

 

In this sense, the advocacy carried out consists of understanding the main violations of the community's rights, in order to propose and promote legal initiatives to improve the situation of people from the LGBT+ community. It must be understood that Honduran society generally rejects anything that has to do with actions or measures of participation by members of this community, but through the various legal initiatives created by and for these individuals, seeds of hope are being sown that may one day lead to the construction of a social fabric based on the fact that diversity as an essential element for human development.   

Through international volunteering, an exchange of opinions and ideas has been achieved, as multiple presentations, forums and meetings on proposals for the creation or modification of the above-mentioned laws have been followed. These meetings allowed for an interdisciplinary dialogue generated with people from several countries to tell and narrate some of their country's legislative experiences, thus contributing to the improvement of Honduran laws. In other words, technical assistance based on community exchange, i.e. dialogues reflecting our own knowledge and experiences, constructive debate and the making of specific proposals to the creative spaces, is the founding pillar of all bridges enabling solidarity and, consequently, the improvement of the situation of minorities.  

References  

Human Rights Watch (2020). Personas trans en riesgo en Honduras. https://www.hrw.org/es/news/2020/11/17/personas-trans-en-riesgo-en-honduras 

PBI. (2020). Mesa de Acceso a la Justicia LGTB, contra la discriminación y la impunidad | PBI Honduras. Brigadas Internacionales de Paz. https://pbi-honduras.org/es/news/2021-05/mesa-de-acceso-la-justicia-lgtb-contra-la-discriminaci%C3%B3n-y-la-impunidad 

 


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