Ahead of San Salvador Pride, United States Urged to Support El Salvador’s LGBT Community
Washington, D.C. – In advance of tomorrow’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Pride march in El Salvador, Human Rights First today expressed its support for LGBT civil society in El Salvador, calling on the U.S. Embassy to affirm its support for the Salvadoran LGBT community by deepening engagement with civil society and increasing dialogue with Salvadoran counterparts on diversity and nondiscrimination.
“As El Salvador’s LGBT community celebrates Pride this weekend, it is especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence. It is vital that the United States engage with LGBT Salvadorans, in private meetings and in public spaces, to help protect their human rights,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “The U.S. government has been a key partner to the LGBT community and now is the time for it to further its engagement with Salvadoran authorities to ensure participants are protected during the march and to show that the United States is standing side-by-side with this marginalized community.”
Although there is no law criminalizing same-sex sexual activity in El Salvador and the country’s government has ratified multiple international nondiscrimination treaties, little is done to protect the LGBT community from violence and discrimination. Violent and deadly attacks against this community often are not investigated and therefore unpunished, with transgender women being particularly at risk. Victimization by the police is not uncommon, which leads many victims to not report bias-motivated crimes at all. In October 2015, the country’s leadership took an important step forward, adding enhanced penalties for hate crimes to El Salvador’s penal code. However, activists note the lack of implementation of the new code, despite an alarming number of possible hate-motivated murders of LGBT people in the months since the code was enacted.
Earlier this week, Human Rights First sent a letter to the United States Embassy in San Salvador urging the embassy to continue its leadership on the rights of LGBT people by expressing explicit support for the parade, speaking with Salvadoran authorities to ensure the safety of participants, and engaging in further dialogue with officials regarding the need for policies and actions to protect the human rights of members of the LGBT community. The organization also urged recently appointed U.S. Ambassador Jean Elizabeth Manes to personally participate in Saturday’s event or meet with activists in the coming weeks to discuss how the embassy can further support the LGBT community in their efforts for inclusion and equality. Recently Human Rights First staff traveled to El Salvador to meet with activists and LGBT organizations regarding the challenging climate for LGBT Salvadorans.