Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People in Guatemala: A Shadow Report

This report is a joint submission by Organización Trans Reinas de la Noche (OTRANS), Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Personas Trans (RED LACTRANS), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Committee (IGLHRC), the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, and the George Washington University Law School International Human Rights Clinic to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee (“HRC” or “the Committee”) on the occasion of its consideration of the State of Guatemala’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“the Covenant” or “the ICCPR”) at the 104th session taking place in New York City, USA, on 19th and 20th March 2012.

The purpose of this report is to highlight the widespread and systematic human rights violations experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Guatemala. In particular, the report draws the attention of the Committee to the following breaches of the Covenant:

  • Individuals in Guatemala are subject to discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity by both State and non-State actors, including in access to healthcare and education services.
  • Though inadequate reporting makes exact numbers uncertain, it is clear that there are persistent violations of the right to life of LGBT persons in Guatemala on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Transgender women may be particularly at risk. In some instances, the State has been responsible for the extrajudicial killings of LGBT individuals.
  • The Guatemalan State fails to adequately prevent, to investigate and/or to prosecute incidents of gender-based violence and killings, including against LGBT individuals.
  • LGBT persons suffer cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including a constant threat of violence that amounts to torture, forced disappearances, sexual violence in detention centres and non-consensual medical testing.
  • LGBT people in Guatemala are denied the right to a fair trial. Judges may refuse to hear controversial cases concerning rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity because they fear public reprisal.
  • The Guatemalan State refuses to recognize the gender identity of transgender persons. By denying transgender individuals appropriate identity documents, the State withholds from them the status of legal personhood.
  • Human rights defenders who advocate for the rights of LGBT persons in Guatemala are subject to threats, harassment, abuse and, in extreme cases, physical violence by both state and non-state actors.
  • Guatemalan law violates the rights of existing LGBT families and prevents other LGBT persons from founding a family because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The various rights violations referred to above are each exacerbated by the absence of systematic reporting and recording. The former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary executions has noted that “structural changes in security and justice [in Guatemala] have not been put forward, neither to diminish the causes of crime nor to address the social, cultural and economic risk factors of violencee.” The failure to provide concrete, disaggregated statistics around LGBT violence and discrimination permits the Guatemalan authorities to ignore, and sometimes even misrepresent, homophobic and transphobic abuse.

The extent, breadth and severity of the State of Guatemala’s human rights violations amount to a clear breach of the terms of the Covenant.

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