Political advocacy by Arcoiris in Honduras

Laura Arévalo

Latin America


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*Free translation that may contain errors. Read this blog post in its original langage (Spanish)

Understanding the situation of people who are part of the LGBT+ community in Honduras requires a situational analysis of the country's legal context. It is for this reason that Asociación Arcoiris, faced with the precariousness of existing laws for the protection of the rights of this group, has been promoting various legal proposals to guarantee the quality of life of people who recognise themselves as part of the LGBT+ community. Over the years there has been a need to seek legal protection against the abuse and dispossession of identity that is generated daily to minorities. 

In 2021, different organizations expressed "an impunity of more than 90% in hate crimes, the Cattrachas Lesbian Network states that only 29 crimes of the 150, 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 adequately condemned by law. Therefore, the vindication of rights becomes a fundamental pillar of the organisations that oversees the LGBT+ community. As a result, since the establishment of the Sexual Diversity Committee and through the leadership of associations such as Arcoiris, bills have been developed to defend the rights of LGBT+ people. An example of this is the Law on Equality and Equity, which seeks equal and equitable treatment for all persons, including other minorities such as indigenous peoples, Afro-Hondurans, persons deprived of their liberty, among others. This initiative aims to foster a culture of acceptance of diversity, which promotes and defends the rights of all people, without discrimination based on sex, skin colour, social status or any other condition.   

On the other hand, the Law on Professional Inclusion was also promoted, as in Honduras access to work is limited because of sexual orientation or gender identification, which creates barriers to obtaining decent work. According to a Human Rights Watch report, ''the Honduran government has failed to effectively address entrenched violence and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, (...) which has led many people to seek asylum in the US'' (2020). This is reflected in the violence that directly affects the community, since access to work is limited to stereotypes based on a heteronormative state of mind. Because there is a cultural barrier that prevents access to work for LGBT+ people, as Honduran society believes that they are not acting according to the proper moral code and that their lifestyle is a bad influence for children, which creates economic gaps that lead to a series of discriminatory actions. 

In addition, by 2021, work has been underway to reform the National Registry Law, which seeks to change the birth name of transgender people. True identity recognition involves in understanding the relevance of the name by which transgender people identify themselves.  Thus, it is intended that any person who feels in conflict with their sex, gender expression or sexual orientation, can undergo a name change, allowing for identity recognition based on their own personal construction, which implies a significant advance in the vindication of rights for the LGBT+ community. 

Arcoiris also carries out legislative advocacy at the international level, especially before 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 such an organization in the promotion and protection of rights in the Americas. Thus, multiple recommendations have been made by the states of Central America to work towards "a roundtable on access to justice that addresses and complies with all the parameters of justice and analysis of the ways in which LGBT people can have real access to it" (Esdra Sosa, personal communication, 2021). These recommendations are addressed directly to the IACHR, as reflected in the reports of this Commission and, at the same time, in the lines of action that are generated by international organisations as a result of these reports.   

In this sense, the advocacy that is 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 the people in 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 creation of a space in which diversity is seen as an essential element of human growth.  

Through international volunteering, an exchange of opinions and ideas has been achieved, thanks to multiple presentations, forums and meetings on proposals for the creation or modification of the aforementioned laws. These meetings have allowed for an interdisciplinary dialogue generated from people from several countries to tell and recount some of their country's legislative experiences, thus contributing to the improvement of Honduran laws. In other words, technical assistance lies in the community exchange to contribute to each space from its own knowledge, debating and basing the proposals in the spaces of creation, where the founding pillar is based on the creation of solidarity bridges to improve the situation of diversities. 

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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