LGBTQ Rights in Latin America Are Illusory, Despite Progressive Laws

In Brazil, every 28 hours an LGBTQ person is violently attacked due to homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia. As a matter of fact, Latin America accounts for 78% of reported murders of transgender and gender-diverse people worldwide, according to a study of a group Transgender Europe. In absolute numbers, between January 1, 2008, and April 30, 2016, the group has documented 1,654 hate-motivated homicides of LGBT people across the region. Another report by OAS found nearly 600 cases of homicides motivated with perceived gender identity of the victim in 2013 alone.

There is an “alarming pattern of grotesque homicides … and broad impunity for their perpetration, sometimes with the suspected complicity of investigative authorities,” commented Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Meanwhile, however, many praise Latin America for its exemplary legislative inclusiveness. Following the former metropolis Spain, which legalised same-sex marriages in 2005, several Latin American countries introduced comprehensive legal reforms recognising LGBT rights. In 2010, Argentina legalised same-sex marriages, becoming the first country in the region to pursue this path. Soon, others followed – same-sex marriages and adoptions are currently legal in Argentina, Uruguay, French Guyana, Colombia, and Brazil.

In addition, several other countries are embracing progressive civil rights more gradually. In Mexico, same-sex couples can legally wed and adopt children in Mexico City and six out of 31 states. Chile and Ecuador, in turn, recognise civil union laws. This solution offers similar legal protections as marriage. Many experts consider it also the first step towards full recognition of same-sex unions.

Read the full OAS report here.
Read the full Transgender Europe report here.
Read the full UN report here.

Photo by Ilan Vale. Text by Natalia Koper.

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