Guatemala’s New Law Is A Threat To The Rights Of Women And LGBTQ People

Guatemala Congress banned same-sex marriages.

The LGBTQ+ community and its allies have been stirred by a recent legislation in Guatemala. This new law not only establishes marriage as a union between a single man and a single woman but also restricts schools from addressing topics related to sexual diversity. 

The passage of the "Life and Family Protection Law" has caused an immense amount of controversy. 

Women at risk 

The first reason is that it toughens the abortion ban by increasing prison sentences.

Now women who "have induced their own abortion or given their consent to another person to carry it out" will face up to 10 years in prison, rather than just 3 years.

And the Guatemalan Congress approved this law restricting women's rights when we were all celebrating International Women's Day!

Congressman Samuel Perez

"This law should really be called a law to imprison and kill women. It is one of the most brazen things they are doing in this Legislature, and on top of it all, they are doing it on Women's Day," said center-left Congressman Samuel Perez.

The law also prohibits same-sex marriage in Guatemala 

Then, this law inscribes in the Civil Code of the country a prohibition against same-sex marriage. 

LGBTQ youth prohibited from learning about sexual diversity 

And finally, the law prohibits the teaching of sexual diversity in public and private schools, which it describes as "promoting in children and teenagers policies or programs that tend to lead to diversion from their sexual identities at birth." 

Approved by an overwhelming majority 

The bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of legislators, as 160 voted in favor and only 8 votes were cast against it. 

President Alejandro Giammattei (photo by Dafne Perez)

Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei has yet to say whether he will sign the bill into law. I'm not hopeful that Giammattei's choice will be favorable towards the LGBTQ community, given that Giammattei is head of the right-wing conservative party. 

But it will be challenged 

 Left-wing Congressman Walter Felix denounces the law as "absolutely discriminatory" and says it "incites hate."

"The human rights of significant parts of the population are being violated," Felix said. 

Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas

Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas said the new law passed by Congress is a setback for freedom and a violation of international conventions that Guatemala has signed.

He has promised to challenge the legislation in this country's Constitutional Court, which is equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We are going to file an action of unconstitutionality so that this law has no effect," said Rodas. 

This new bill in Guatemala is a major setback for women's and LGBTQ rights. It was passed by an overwhelming majority of legislators, which means it will soon become law unless the president vetoes it. The good news is that the Human Rights Ombudsman has pledged to challenge it. I hope that the judges in charge of protecting people's rights will rule against discrimination and hate. 

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Wednesday, 19 June 2024