New Issue Brief Details Widespread Violence Against LGBT Salvadorans

Washington, D.C.Human Rights First today released a new brief outlining bias-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in El Salvador. The brief, “Bias-Motivated Violence Against LGBT People in El Salvador,” follows a research trip conducted by Human Rights First and ongoing engagement with human rights advocates in El Salvador, and includes recommendations for how the U.S. government can improve the human rights situation for El Salvador’s LGBT community.

“LGBT people in El Salvador face alarmingly high rates of violence and murder, especially among the transgender community,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “Tragically, extremely high rates of impunity for murders and generalized homophobia and transphobia in law enforcement and institutions means that victims and loved ones of victims rarely receive justice. The U.S. government should use its influence to support civil society efforts to combat attacks on the LGBT community.”

While homosexuality is not criminalized in El Salvador and there are some legal protections for the LGBT community, lack of enforcement as well as legal vacuums leave LGBT people extremely vulnerable to bias-motivated violence. Given the situation, many LBGT people are forced to flee—including to the United States—to seek asylum.

Trans and intersex Salvadoran activist Nicole Santamaría—who was forced to flee El Salvador to the United States—affirms, “With its significant influence, the United States has an important role to play in combating the daily violence that LGBTI people face in El Salvador. By taking actions to support activists and engaging with its counterparts in the Salvadoran government, the United States can make El Salvador a safer place, so that people like me do not have to flee the country they love.”

The brief outlines how the U.S. government can honor its international human rights obligations and improve the situation for LGBT Salvadorans. Specific recommendations for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) include incorporating diversity and sensitization to the human rights of marginalized populations, including LGBT people, in all bilateral trainings of Salvadoran law enforcement as well as supporting civil society efforts to track and denounce violence and discrimination against LGBT Salvadorans. Recommendations to Congress include convening LGBT-inclusive hearings on hate crimes against marginalized groups and meeting with Salvadoran activists traveling to Washington, D.C.

Violencia Motivada por Prejuicio Contra las Personas LGBT en El Salvador,” también está disponible en español en


Published on January 18, 2017


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