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Luis BARRUETO is a journalist from Guatemala, currently working in trade policy at the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA). Studied business and finance journalism at Aarhus University in Denmark and City University London.
Over the past twenty years, several countries in Latin America have undergone an apparent revolution in how the law treats LGBT citizens.
"From the legalization of homosexual activity between consenting adults to same-sex marriage, adoption rights, military service and the criminalization of hate crimes against the LGBT community", some countries – notably Uruguay and Colombia – have made inroads in securing equality before the law, irrespective of people's gender identity and sexual orientation, as Javier Corrales and Christopher Sabatini explain at World Politics Review (Paywall, but free with this link).
The last development along these lines was on Tuesday Jan 9, when the Inter-American Court of Human Rights urged its 23 member states to legalize same-sex marriages and unions, as well as enact procedures to enable trans people to adjust their gender in official documents in a simple and humane manner.
There will probably be a lot of time before each individual country adjusts its internal regulation to reflect the Court's groundbreaking precedent. But for all legal and institutional advances, the authors underscore that LGBT people still face harsh living conditions and are far from respected throughout the hemisphere.
They delve into three main reasons: First, that the public's attitudes towards the LGBT population remains pretty intolerant. Second, that there is a crime epidemic in many Latin American countries, which makes LGBT people particularly vulnerable. And third, that a conservative backlash is growing in some of the countries where key victories have been achieved at the institutional level.
This gap between the law and social reality is perhaps the biggest challenge for LGBT activists, governments, and everyone concerned with democracy and inclusion in the region moving forward.