LGBT rights in Nicaragua
|LGBT rights in Nicaragua|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 2008|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nicaragua may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Nicaragua.
Legality of same-sex sexual activity
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Nicaragua since March 2008. The age of consent is 18, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, and all sexual offenses are gender-neutral.
Recognition of same-sex unions
Same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal benefits and protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
According to Article 36(5) of the Penal Code, an aggravating circumstance exists when a person is motivated by discrimination based on sexual orientation while committing a criminal offense.
LGBT history in Nicaragua
Many LGBT Nicaraguans held prominent roles during the Sandinista Revolution; however, LGBT rights were not a priority to the Sandinista government because the majority of the population were Roman Catholic. Protecting those rights was also considered politically risky and bound to be met with hostility from the Roman Catholic Church, which already had bad relations with the government. On the tenth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution (1989), many community centers were launched for LGBT people. The centers began to form after a march by activists that took place in Managua.
After the United States lifted the economic embargo against Nicaragua, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) promoting LGBT rights began to operate in the country. As a result, Nicaragua hosted its first public gay pride festival in 1991. The annual Gay Pride celebration in Managua, held around 28 June, still happens and is used to commemorate the uprising of the Stonewall riots in New York City.
After gaining support, the LGBT community suffered a setback when a bill formerly written to protect women from rape and sexual abuse was changed by social Christians in the National Assembly. The change imposed a sentence of up to three years in prison for "anyone who induces, promotes, propagandizes, or practices sex among persons of the same sex in a scandalous manner." It also included any unmarried sex acts. Activists and their allies protested in Nicaragua and at embassies abroad; however, President Violeta Chamorro signed the bill into a law in July 1992 as Article 204 of the Nicaragua Criminal Code.
In November 1992, a coalition known as the Campaign for Sexuality without Prejudices, composed of lawyers, lesbians, and gay activists, among others, presented an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice challenging the law as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal in March 1994. On 1 March 2008, a new Penal Code took effect. It omitted the language in now-repealed Article 204 and, by doing so, decriminalized sex out of wedlock and gay sex as well between consenting adults.
- State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults
- (Spanish) Article 36(5), CÓDIGO PENAL
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- Nicaragua to decriminalize gay sex