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Guatemala human rights groups oppose anti-LGBTI bill

Initiative 5272 is currently before the country’s Congress



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Human rights groups in Guatemala have criticized an anti-LGBTI bill that is currently before the country’s Congress. (Photo by Ted Eytan; courtesy Flickr)

Editor’s note: Visibles, an LGBTI website in Guatemala City, originally published this article. Visibles is a media partner of the Washington Blade.

GUATEMALA CITY — Human Rights organizations express our opposition to Initiative 5272, “For the protection of life and the family,” which was proposed on April 26, 2017, and is now being discussed in the Guatemalan Congress.

According to its preamble, the law seeks to introduce norms and reforms designed to “protect the right to life, the family, the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, freedom of conscience and expression and the right of parents to guide their children in the area of sexuality.”

Nevertheless, if the bill is approved, we will be on the brink of a serious setback in terms of the protection and guarantee of human rights for women, for children and adolescents and LGBTIQ people in Guatemala.

The proposal specifically extends the punishment for abortion, including for situations of spontaneous abortion or natural death of the fetus during any stage of pregnancy that even occurs during involuntary, emergency obstetric situations. This scenario would mean that Guatemala would approve a regressive regulation similar to that of countries like El Salvador, where abortion is completely prohibited and has resulted in the criminalization of women who are victims.

With that said, we remember that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the CEDAW Committee have already spoken about the negative impact of laws criminalizing all forms of abortion have on the right to life, personal integrity, health and the rights of women to live free of violence and discrimination.

At the same time, Initiative 5272 contains regulations that prohibit private and public educational institutions from implementing inclusive sexual education policies and programs in the name of parents’ rights to decide what type of education their children can receive. These regulations perpetuate discriminatory and violent practices against girls and adolescents in a country where the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented that 24,258 of the 52,288 registered births from January to September 2017 were to mothers under 18-years-old.

In this regard, the IACHR in 2017 urged the government to “implement public education policies with a comprehensive focus on children and adolescents, including sex and reproductive education for different age groups.”

The initiative also seeks to reform the Civil Code by expressly banning of marriage and civil unions between people of the same sex and limiting adoption to families that are only comprised of a man and a woman. At the same time, it also seeks to guarantee that “people are not obliged to accept as normal non-heterosexual conduct and practices,” increasing the risk of acts of violence, discrimination and hate crimes.

With that in mind, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has determined the aforementioned provision would violate the American Convention on Human Rights, which states “an inalienable right cannot be negated or restricted by anyone, and under no circumstances, because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

In this sense, the norms contained within text are openly discriminatory, attempt to go against the full exercise of rights of LGBTIQ people and constitute incitement of discrimination and violence.

Initiative 5272 is only a flagrant attempt under the sovereignty of the Guatemalan government to go against agreed upon obligations and its approval would carry international responsibility. The undersigned organizations urge the Guatemalan government to abstain from approving this regulation and immediately adopt ways to dismantle practices and norms that continue perpetuating underlying discrimination against women, adolescents and the LGBTIQ community.

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South America

Bolsonaro, Lula to face off in second round of Brazil presidential election

Neither candidate received 50 percent of vote on Sunday



From left, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Photo of Bolsonaro by Celso Pupo/Bigstock; photo of Lula courtesy Lula campaign)

Editor’s note: International News Editor Michael K. Lavers will be on assignment in Brazil through Oct. 11.

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will face off in the second round of the country’s presidential election on Oct. 30 after neither of them received a majority of votes on Sunday.

Da Silva was ahead of Bolsonaro by a 47.9-43.6 percent margin with 97.5 percent of electronic voting machines counted, according to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain who is a member of the right-wing Liberal Party, represented Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian Congress from 1991 until he took office in 2018. 

Polls ahead of Sunday’s election suggested Da Silva was poised to defeat Bolsonaro in the first round. Bolsonaro’s efforts to discredit Brazil’s electoral system increased concerns that violence could erupt in the country if Bolsonaro did not accept the results. 

The incumbent president has faced sharp criticism because of his rhetoric against LGBTQ and intersex Brazilians, women, people of African and indigenous descent and other groups.

He has encouraged fathers to beat their sons if they think they are gay.

Bolsonaro during a 2019 press conference in the White House Rose Garden stressed his “respect of traditional family values.” Bolsonaro has expressed his opposition to “gender ideology,” supports legislation that would limit LGBTQ-specific curricula in Brazil’s schools and condemned a 2019 Brazilian Supreme Court ruling that criminalized homophobia and transphobia.

A Brazilian Federal Police investigator in August called for prosecutors to charge Bolsonaro with incitement for spreading false information about COVID-19 after he said people who are vaccinated against the virus are at increased risk for AIDS. Activists and HIV/AIDS service providers with whom the Washington Blade spoke in March sharply criticized Bolsonaro’s policies towards people with HIV/AIDS.

Supporters of president jair bolsonaro hold a ‘motociata’ near the brazilian congress in brasÍlia, brazil, on oct. 1, 2022. (video by michael k. lavers)

Da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010, is a member of the country’s leftist Workers’ Party.

Sergio Moro, a judge who Bolsonaro later tapped as his government’s Justice and Public Security Minister, in 2017 sentenced Da Silva to 9 1/2 years in prison after his conviction on money laundering and corruption charges that stemmed from Operation Car Wash. 

The Brazilian Supreme Court in November 2019 ordered Da Silva’s release.

Julian Rodrigues, who was the coordinator of the Workers’ Party’s National Working Group from 2006-2012, noted to the Blade during a previous interview that Da Silva in 2004 created the Health Ministry’s “Brazil without Homophobia” campaign. Rodrigues also highlighted Da Silva created the Culture Ministry’s Diversity Secretariat that, among other things, funded community centers and sought to make police officers and other law enforcement officials more friendly to LGBTQ and intersex people.

The Blade will update this story.

A flag in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a bookstore in Brasília, Brazil, on Oct. 1, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
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Survey shows 72% of Utah residents back same-sex marriage

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah said he’s not surprised to see that a majority of Utahns now support marriage equality



The results of a poll run by the Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Desert News found 72% of Utah’s residents agree that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by law as valid, with the same rights as cis-gender marriages.

“For a state that less than 20 years ago passed laws and a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, there has been a seismic shift in opinion,” said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics survey also found that 23% of those surveyed disagreed, while 5% expressed that they don’t know.

The poll shows Utahns are aligned with the nation as a whole on the issue. A Gallup poll in May found 71% of Americans say they support legal same-sex marriage, a new high.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, told the Desert News that he’s not surprised to see that a majority of Utahns now support marriage equality.

“Utah is a pro-family state, and we recognize that families come in all shapes and sizes. When we see loving, committed couples joining in matrimony, our natural impulse is to support and encourage that love. This gives me great hope for the future,” he said.

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Rep. Pocan introduces legislation to create nat’l LGBTQ history museum

Bills seek answer on including site as part of Smithsonian



Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) has introduced legislation seeking to create an LGBTQ history museum. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) has introduced legislation that would set up the process to create a National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History & Culture, potentially as an official site within the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Pocan, one of nine openly gay members of the U.S. House and co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, said in a statement Thursday the measures would are effort to preserve LGBTQ history “as our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history.” The pair of bills is H.R.9070 and H.R.9071.

“It is vital to remember our collective past – particularly when certain states seek to constrain and repeal existing rights by passing bills that harm LGBTQ+ youth and our community at large,” Pocan said. “Let’s tell these stories, and honor the many contributions the LGBTQ+ community has made to this nation with a museum in Washington, D.C.”

The first bill, according to a news statement, would creates an eight-member commission of individuals with expertise in museum planning or LGBTQ+ research and culture “to look into the viability of establishing such a facility in the nation’s Capital.”

Among other things, the commission would be charged with recommending a plan on action for museum, including fundraising for the museum, and submitting to Congress a plan for construction of the museum, the statement says.

The bill would also instruct the commission to address whether the museum should be part of the Smithsonian Institution, based in the nation’s capital and the world’s largest museum and research complex, per the news statement. The full study, the statement says, would have to be completed in 18 months.

If the Smithsonian were to adopt the a museum on LGBTQ history and culture, it would be similar to other museums under its jurisdiction focused on minority populations in the United States, including the National Museum of African American History & Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian.

The second bill, according to a news statement, would be eligible for consideration by Congress after the commission completes its work and issues its recommendations and allow for formal creation of the museum. More than 50 lawmakers, including all nine openly gay members of the U.S. House, co-sponsor the legislation.

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