LGBT rights in Guatemala
|LGBT rights in Guatemala|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1871|
|No recognition of same-sex couples|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Guatemala may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Guatemala.
Sexual or gender identity is not expressly protected from discrimination and same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
Recognition of same-sex relationships
There is no legal recognition for same-sex couples in the form of same-sex marriage or in the more limited form of civil unions or domestic partnership arrangements.
According to a July 2010 poll by Cid-Gallup, 85% of the country's population opposes same-sex marriage, while 12% supports it and 3% are unsure.
Guatemala laws do not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity in areas such as employment, education, housing, health care, banking or other public accommodation, such as cafes, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas.
Despite homosexuality being legal since 1871, negative social attitudes have prevailed in Guatemalan society, and harassment, even targeted killings, of LGBT people haven't been uncommon. For example, while a gay bar was allowed to be opened in 1976, it was the only gay bar allowed in Guatemala until the late 1990s.
Most Guatemalan residents are members of the Catholic, Fundamentalist Protestant or Eastern Orthodox church, which all have traditionally upheld socially conservative attitudes and in particular tend to believe that homosexuality and cross-dressing are signs of immorality.
These socially conservative Christian attitudes are also reflected in the dominant political parties in the nation. The National Unity of Hope is a conservative Christian social democratic party, and the Patriotic Party (Guatemala) is a conservative, if not right-wing, political party. Most of the other political parties, even the more liberal or left-wing parties, generally ignore the issue of LGBT rights.
Despite these challenges, the LGBT community has become more visible since the 1990s, and the nation's refocus on democratization, peace, and human rights has had some benefit for LGBT rights.
In 1993 OASIS (Organization to Support an Integral Sexuality in the Face of AIDS) was allowed to be established as a non-profit group that would only provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS education to the LGBT community. The end of the civil war in 1996 and the subsequent advancement of democratization and human rights allowed OASIS to also work on LGBT-rights.
Bias motivated crimes (a.k.a. "hate crimes") on the basis of sexual or gender identity are reportedly tolerated by the government, especially when the harassment or violence is directed at transgender people. The lack of civil rights protections and protections from hate crimes is attributed to the prevailing attitudes about sexual identity and gender roles.
In the late 1990s there were several reports by the United Nations and some NGOs that LGBT people in Guatemala were being systematically targeted for death as part of a "social cleansing campaign". One of the more prominent victims of this campaign was an AIDS activist and transgender person named Luis Palencia, who was gunned down in Guatemala City in 1997.