by Sabine Hannakampf
Members of the Honduran parliament have voted in favour of a constitutional amendment that makes it much harder to change existing laws.
Feminists protested after the decision in Honduras for the right to self-determination over bodily integrity for women. LGBTIQ* activists joined the demonstrations.
Currently, changes to the constitution in Honduras require a two-thirds majority in the Congreso Nacional, the Honduran parliament. In the future, a three-quarters majority will be required to change individual articles in the constitution. For women’s rights activists and LGBTIQ* organisations, the decision is a bitter slap in the face. With a required three-quarters majority, it is almost impossible to reverse or even defuse the laws that regulate the bans on abortion and same-sex marriage in Honduras.
The amendment is tantamount to a “constitutional block”, said Mario Perez, a deputy from President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s ruling party, because it irrevocably consolidates already existing articles of the constitution.
Abortions are serious criminal offence …
Ethnic minorities and the LGBTIQ* community are discriminated against. Members of the community suffer violent attacks based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
🛑Feminists protested in #Honduras in favor of legalizing abortion after Congress approved a constitutional reform to reinforce the ban
🔻Honduras is one of the few countries in the world where there is a total abortion ban regardless of the circumstancespic.twitter.com/Qyz3YgWcI8
— ©halecos Amarillosᴳᴸᴼᴮᴬᴸ 🍀ʷAͤNͣOͬNͤYˡMͤOᵍUͥSͦⁿ (@ChalecosAmarill) January 26, 2021
And these laws are strict: for women who have abortions, as well as for all others involved, the Honduran Penal Code provides for three to six-year prison sentences. Moreover, Honduras is the only country in Central America where the marriage or union of two persons of the same sex has been expressly prohibited since 2005. Human rights organisations are all the more concerned. Amnesty International writes:
“This reform seeks to perpetuate at the constitutional level a violation of human rights, particularly sexual and reproductive rights, suffered by women, girls and people with reproductive capacities in Honduras for decades. Ratification by Congress and President Juan Orlando Hernández would effectively make it impossible to introduce a law that would not decriminalise abortion under any circumstances or even guarantee access to emergency contraception.”
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International
Lawmakers in Honduras should vote against a discriminatory constitutional reform that aims to further restrict abortion and same-sex marriage.
This is a grave violation of the human rights of women, girls, and LGBT people.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) January 25, 2021
… International case law on marriage for all is disregarded
Although the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled in 2018 that marriage for all is a fundamental right for gay couples in Latin America and called on individual states to rewrite their respective marriage laws, it currently looks like Honduras is maintaining its policy of suppressing human rights.
Only last year, a controversial criminal law reform was pushed through in the Central American country, with the offence of ‘breaching the peace’ very broadly interpreted, which can turn legitimate demonstrations into criminal offences. In return, however, the punishment for corruption in office was halved and those who enrich themselves with subsidies go unpunished if the money is repaid.
- hector-emilio-gonzalez-Catedral de San Pedro Sula, Honduras: By Hector Emilio Gonzalez / CC0
- efren-barahona-honduras-police-unsplash: By Efren Barahona / CC0
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