LGBT rights in Guatemala

LGBT rights in Guatemala

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1871[1]
Gender identity/expression
Military service Unknown
Family rights
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Guatemala may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Guatemala.

Sexual orientation or gender identity is not expressly protected from discrimination and same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

Consensual, non-commercial, private homosexual sexual activity has been legal in Guatemala since 1871.[1] The age of consent for everyone, regardless of sex or sexual/gender identity is 18.[1]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

There is no legal recognition for same-sex couples in the form of same-sex marriage or in the more limited form of civil unions or domestic partnership arrangements.

According to a July 2010 poll by Cid-Gallup, 85% of the country's population opposes same-sex marriage, while 12% supports it and 3% are unsure.[2]

Discrimination protections

Guatemala laws do not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in areas such as employment, education, housing, health care, banking or other public accommodations, such as cafes, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas.[3]

Gender identity

Since 2016, transgender persons in Guatemala can change their legal name so that it matches their gender identity. Surgeries are not required but a judicial permission is. However, transgender persons can not change their legal gender.[4][5]

Social conditions

Participants in a LGBT Pride walk in Guatemala City. June 23, 2012.

Despite homosexuality being legal since 1871, negative social attitudes have prevailed in Guatemalan society, and harassment, even targeted killings, of LGBT people haven't been uncommon. For example, while a gay bar was allowed to be opened in 1976, it was the only gay bar allowed in Guatemala until the late 1990s.

Most Guatemalan residents are members of the Catholic, Fundamentalist Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox faiths, which all have traditionally upheld socially conservative attitudes and in particular tend to believe that homosexuality and cross-dressing are signs of immorality.

These socially conservative Christian attitudes are also reflected in the dominant political parties in the nation. The National Unity of Hope is a Christian social democratic party, and the Patriotic Party (Guatemala) is a conservative, if not right-wing, political party. Most of the other political parties, even the more liberal or left-wing parties, generally ignore the issue of LGBT rights.

Despite these challenges, the LGBT community has become more visible since the 1990s, and the nation's refocus on democratization, peace, and human rights has had some benefit for LGBT rights.

In 1993, OASIS (Organization to Support an Integral Sexuality in the Face of AIDS) was allowed to be established as a non-profit group that would only provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS education to the LGBT community. The end of the civil war in 1996 and the subsequent advancement of democratization and human rights allowed OASIS to also work on LGBT-rights.

As many other countries, Guatemala's LGBT is evolving and new personalities are coming to become a pioneers. Guatemala's LGBT is not a closed mouth anymore. Many personalities has always been part of this social growing. New generations are making new statements in Guatemala's society, whether the rest of the society is ready or not.

In January 2016, the country's first openly LGBT person, Sandra Morán, to be elected to Congress took office. She is a member of Convergence, a left-leaning political party.[6]

Anti-LGBT violence

Bias motivated crimes (a.k.a. "hate crimes") on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity are reportedly tolerated by the government, especially when the harassment or violence is directed at transgender people. The lack of civil rights protections and protections from hate crimes is attributed to the prevailing attitudes about sexual identity and gender roles.[7]

In the late 1990s, there were several reports by the United Nations and some NGOs that LGBT people in Guatemala were being systematically targeted for death as part of a "social cleansing campaign". One of the more prominent victims of this campaign was an AIDS activist and transgender person named Luis Palencia, who was gunned down in Guatemala City in 1997.

Public opinion

According to Pew Research Center survey, conducted between November 10 and December 16, 2013, 12% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, 82% were opposed.[8][9]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal Since 1871
Equal age of consent
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)
Same-sex marriages
Recognition of same-sex couples
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples
Joint adoption by same-sex couples
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military
Right to change legal gender / Since 2016, transgender persons can change their legal name but not their legal gender
Access to IVF for lesbians
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples
MSMs allowed to donate blood

See also


External links

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