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LGBT Hondurans March Against Hate

Activists Call for Gender Identity Law, Equal Marriage, Adoption

People participate in the March against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on May 17, 2019. © 2019 Mirte Postema/Human Rights Watch

I traveled to Honduras last week to document violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Violence abounds, according to Honduran LGBT activists, but there are also plenty of stories of courage, pride, and resistance.

These stories echoed through the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa last Friday when some 350 Hondurans marched towards the city’s main square to celebrate the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). The most common demands, in addition to an end to violence? The legal recognition of trans peoples’ gender identity, and ending prohibitions on marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.

Activists are working to bring about change in several ways.

In March 2018, Indyra Mendoza, coordinator of Lesbian Network CATTRACHAS, filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the state’s failure to establish a process by which trans people can change their name and gender on official documents. She also challenged the constitutional articles that prohibit marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. In July 2018, Donny Reyes, coordinator of LGBT Association Arcoiris, and Alex Sorto, Executive Director of Somos CDC, also filed a constitutional challenge on marriage equality and adoption.

Both petitions are pending before Honduras’ Supreme Court, which is expected to rule later this year.

But Hondurans are also working to enact change in Congress. Civil society groups Cozumel Trans and Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa have presented to Congress a proposal for a gender identity law, which would provide for name and gender marker changes. The bill is still pending discussion.

In addition, CATTRACHAS is litigating three cases in the inter-American human rights system to enact changes nationally, two of which allege state responsibility for endemic violence that trans women face in Honduras. Earlier this month the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights referred a case involving impunity for the 2009 assassination of Vicky Hernández, a trans woman, to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. The court’s decision, which will be binding on Honduras, is expected in 2020. A similar case before the Commission involves the assassination of Leonela Zelaya in 2004. A case involving the right to change one’s name also awaiting admission.

After a week of hearing countless stories of violence, discrimination, and exclusion, Tegucigalpa’s IDAHOBIT march showed me another compelling reality: the resilience and determination of LGBT activists in Honduras.

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