The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled same-sex marriage to be a human right. This crucial decision is supposed to be binding for all the countries of Central and Latin America and finally stop depriving millions of LGBTQ people from one of their fundamental rights: legally uniting with their loved ones. In particular, it should work for Guatemala as well but things to be pretty much different very soon. Will LGBTQ community be simply neglected or it still has a chance to get all the rights other citizens enjoy as granted?
With surprising and unexpected win of Alejandro Giammattei in a presidential race last August and his recent inauguration the perspectives are not promising at all. The President has a long anti-LGBTQ record. In particular, he consistently spoke against same-sex marriage legalization in the past. The reasons he provided, however, appeared to be strange if not to say farfetched. Granting LGBTQ rights were called “counterproductive” and more urgent tasks to be addressed such poverty were cited. At the end of the day it sounds like the President has the right to decide which citizens need help and which ones could simply be erased from the legal field. “We will rebuild Guatemala,” he said. Probably, just for those who shares his homophobic views.
Guatemala has a long history of oppressing LGBTQ community. It all started from from the Spanish invasion in the 17th century when conquistadors defeated Mayan kingdoms, where by the way homosexual activities were pretty common and even served as a part of religious ritual. The Spaniards brought strong Catholic dogmas, forbade homosexual practices and made them punishable. It took 50 years after Guatemala became independent to make even private same-sex intercourse not punishable (1871). Moreover, the so-called “Life and Family Protection” bill was circulating in the country's Congress and threatening the whole existence of LGBTQ community. Luckily, the bill was finally revoked after being slammed by numerous international organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. However, in 2020 there is still NO LEGAL RECOGNITION of both same-sex marriage AND civil union. That is how human rights work in Guatemala. Unfortunately, the situation seems to be unchanged for at least another 4 years of Giammattei’s presidency.