Equal rights should be guaranteed, not up for discussion

By Adeline Neau, Investigadora para Centro América de Amnistía Internacional

In Honduras, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people live in fear.

They frequently suffer attacks, stigmatization and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation (to whom they are attracted) and/or their gender identity (how they identify, irrespective of their biological sex), to the point that they are forced to flee their country.

In the last few weeks, politicians in Honduras have proposed holding a referendum on the right of same-sex couples to get married. The Honduran Constitution prohibits marriage and civil partnership between people of the same sex.

Given the current situation, which is dominated by violence and discrimination, a referendum does not seem to be an appropriate mechanism for protecting the human rights of LGBTI people in Honduras. On the contrary, it paves the way for the discrimination that still prevails to be exacerbated.

Given the current situation, which is dominated by violence and discrimination, a referendum does not seem to be an appropriate mechanism for protecting the human rights of LGBTI people in Honduras
Adeline Neau, Central America Researcher at Amnesty International

Legalising same-sex marriage is not a question of doing a group of people a favour or granting them a privilege; it stems from the notion that everyone has the same rights without discrimination. It is the government’s duty to ensure that no law or practice discriminates against an individual or group, which may involve amending or abolishing laws that do not comply with international standards.

A year ago, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights reiterated that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was prohibited, emphasising that a lack of consensus in some countries with regard to fully respecting the rights of LGBTI people was not a valid argument for denying or restricting their human rights.

To date, 25 nations worldwide recognise same-sex marriage, including some of the region’s countries—Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil—and several states in Mexico. In addition, in August of this year, the Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica’s Supreme Court of Justice, the highest court in the country, declared that the laws that prevented the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil partnership were unconstitutional.

Legalising same-sex marriage is not a question of doing a group of people a favour or granting them a privilege; it stems from the notion that everyone has the same rights without discrimination
Adeline Neau, Central America Researcher at Amnesty International

In its recent comments to the Honduran government, the UN Human Rights Committee recommended that Honduras ensure that the equality of same-sex couples is fully recognised. There should not be a discussion as to whether some individuals have rights and others do not. The Honduran authorities must act without further delay and guarantee full respect for the rights of all individuals in the country without distinction, starting by amending the laws and practices that discriminate against LGBTI people on a daily basis.

 

This article was originally published by El Heraldo