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Guatemala: Discriminatory law foments hate and puts lives, rights and families at risk

The “Life and Family Protection Law” (Law 5272) represents a grave threat to lives, human rights and families in Guatemala, said Amnesty International after Congress approved the law with a large majority on 8 March.

“This law will not protect families or lives; it will foment hate and discrimination, putting the lives and rights of countless people at risk. It is disturbing that Guatemala’s Congress is intent on wasting time and resources on passing laws that will only compound the myriad of social problems and human rights violations that afflict so many people in the country, instead of actually trying to resolve them,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director for Amnesty International.

The law would modify the penal code to criminalize miscarriages and impose prison sentences on anyone who “promotes or facilitates access to abortion.” It also expressly prohibits same-sex marriage, as well as the teaching of sexual diversity and gender equality in schools, and outlaws prosecuting people or groups for discriminating against others for their sexual orientation.

This law will not protect families or lives; it will foment hate and discrimination, putting the lives and rights of countless people at risk

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

At least 32 LGBTIQ+ people were murdered in Guatemala last year as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the National Observatory of LGBTIQ+ Rights, with another nine killings reported so far in 2022. The country has also suffered from alarming levels of pregnancies amongst girls and adolescents; only last year, 2,041 girls aged 14 and under gave birth, and the country registered over 65,000 pregnancies in girls and adolescents aged between 10 and 19.

“Guatemala already suffers from shocking levels of violence against women, girls and LGBTIQ+ people. By criminalizing miscarriages, prohibiting schools from teaching students about non-heterosexual relationships, and sanctioning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, Guatemala’s Congress is legalizing institutionalized violence and discrimination against women, girls and the LGBTIQ+ community,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas. 

“Access to legal abortion and comprehensive sexuality education are not only human rights, but also critical policy tools for addressing adolescent pregnancies, as well as gender-based violence and discrimination. If President Giammattei wants to tackle these issues, and ensure his government complies with its human rights obligations, he must veto this indefensible bill.” 

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