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Help us continue to fight human rights abuses. Please give now to support our work. Download the full report in English. She made her way to the United States in to seek asylum, but after four months in immigration detention, in Novembershe was deported to El Salvador and to her eventual death.
Prosecutors alleged that on January 31,the officers had forced her into the back of a pickup truck, beaten her, and thrown her from the moving vehicle. She died several days later. It was the first time anyone had ever been convicted for killing a transgender person in El Salvador.
While this ruling represented a much needed first step toward ability for anti-trans violence in El Salvador, hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT people there and in neighboring Honduras and Guatemala have continued. Meanwhile, in the United States, the administration of Donald J. In Marchthe US government entirely closed its southern border to asylum seekers, leaving them to suffer persecution in their home countries or in Mexico. The Covid pandemic served as the pretext for the closure, but for years, the Trump administration had adopted increasingly severe measures aimed at preventing asylum seekers from ever reaching the United States and expelling them quickly if they did cross the border.
Measures included a program forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for lengthy periods, an expedited asylum review process allowing for little or no contact with lawyers, an attempt to bar asylum seekers who transited through third countries before arriving at the US border, and a policy of transferring asylum seekers to Guatemala, where they did not have effective protection. Among the asylum seekers affected by all these measures were LGBT people, returned to conditions almost identical to those they had fled.
This report documents violence and discrimination against LGBT people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—collectively known as the Northern Triangle of Central America—and, in some cases, along the migration routes they take to seek asylum.
It is based on interviews with LGBT people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and 93 government officials, nongovernmental organization representatives, United Nations officials, lawyers, journalists, and other stakeholders. LGBT people in the Northern Triangle face high levels of violence, have limited protections under national law, and in recent years have fled home in ificant s, undertaking perilous journeys to seek asylum in the United States.
Like others in the caravans, LGBT people were fleeing from high levels of generalized violence in certain areas, but many were also fleeing from persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Human Rights Watch interviewed LGBT people in and from the Northern Triangle who described the complex web of violence and discrimination that threatens their physical safety, limits Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma life choices, and in some cases le them to flee their country.
Some described violence at the hands of family members, leading them to flee home at as young as eight years old. Others described bullying and discrimination that drove them out of school or limited their academic success. Poverty in turn places LGBT people at high risk of violence from gang members, from other members of the public, and from police and other members of the security forces.
And while victims of violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras generally face monumental challenges obtaining redress in the face of fragile institutions, corruption and gang influence, LGBT victims often face an additional barrier in the form of stigma and discrimination Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma the very law enforcement agents charged with keeping them safe.
Responsibility for her death lies first and foremost with the Salvadoran police officers who killed her, but additional responsibility is borne by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE for its failure to give Camila a chance to make her asylum claim, resulting in her deportation to a place where she feared for her life. Immigration judges in the United States should be attentive to the multiple forms of violence and discrimination facing LGBT people from the Northern Triangle and should uphold the Refugee Convention and its Protocol by continuing to recognize LGBT people as members of a particular social group that is vulnerable to persecution.
The governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras should hold able public officials who carry out or are complicit in violence or discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or sexual orientation, and should take meaningful and rights-respecting steps though legal or policy reform to protect against discrimination on these grounds in all sectors including employment, education, housing, health care, and access to goods and services. They should strengthen existing systems for tracking and investigating crimes based on anti-LGBT animus and should, where hate crimes statutes exist, prosecute such offenses as hate crimes and hold those responsible able.
They should establish administrative procedures for legal gender recognition that allow trans people to obtain documents that reflect their gender identity without unnecessary hurdles. Their leaders should make unambiguous statements of support for the rights of LGBT people, including the right to non-discrimination and the right to be free from violence. Each day that passes without adequate protection puts the lives of LGBT people from the Northern Triangle at risk of persecution and abuse.
The United States, and the Northern Triangle governments, have obligations to take steps to protect them. Bisexual: The sexual orientation of a person who is sexually and romantically attracted to both women and men. Cisgender: Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their sex ased at birth.
Gay: A synonym for homosexual in many parts of the world; in this report, used specifically to refer to the sexual orientation of a man whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is toward other men. Heterosexual: The sexual orientation of a person whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is toward people of another sex. Homophobia: Fear of, contempt of, or discrimination against homosexuals or homosexuality, usually based on negative stereotypes of homosexuality.
Homosexual: The sexual orientation of a person whose primary sexual and romantic attractions are toward people of the same sex. The term describes whether a person is attracted primarily to people of the same or other sex, or to both or others. Transgender: The gender identity of people whose sex ased at birth does not conform to their identified or lived gender. A transgender person usually adopts, or would prefer to adopt, a gender expression in consonance with their gender identity but may or may not desire to permanently alter their physical characteristics to conform to their gender identity.
Transgender Men: Persons deated female at birth but who identify and may present themselves as men. Transgender men are generally referred to with male pronouns. Transgender Women: Persons deated male at birth but who identify and may present themselves as women.
Transgender women are generally referred to with female pronouns. Transphobia: Fear of, contempt of or discrimination against transgender persons, usually based on negative stereotypes of transgender identity. Travesti : A term that has different meanings in different cultural contexts, but in Central America is generally claimed by people ased male at birth, who transit towards the female gender. Travestis do not necessarily identify as women and sometimes use the term to denote a political identity. This report is based on primary research conducted in and early in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States.
The research was conceptualized in earlywhen the arrival of several caravans of migrants and asylum seekers—initiating in Honduras and transiting through El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, before arriving at the US Southern border—brought into sharp focus the specific human rights violations that impact LGBT people from the Northern Triangle so profoundly that many make the difficult and dangerous decision to leave their country.
Given the common experiences of LGBT asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle, and the fact that there are some similarities in their countries of origin with regard to legal protections or lack thereof Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma common forms of violence, Human Rights Watch decided to research violence and discrimination in all three countries. This research was conceived with two primary objectives.
The first was to contribute to preserving or improving access to asylum in the United States by providing accurate and reliable information based on firsthand testimony to US government decision-makers as well as individual immigration judges and attorneys about the country conditions from which LGBT people Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma the Northern Triangle are fleeing.
The second was to use the report in advocacy work in collaboration with regional, national and local LGBT and other human rights organizations within the Northern Triangle to advance country-level reforms to mitigate violence and discrimination. Twenty of the interviewees were asylum seekers or refugees, whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in Mexico and the United States in December and January The research focuses on violence and economic marginalization, which puts LGBT people at greater risk of violence.
For that reason, the report includes cases of discrimination in education and employment but does not include other forms of discrimination such as in medical settings.
Although we did document several such cases of discrimination, including sexual harassment from health providers on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, these incidents did not clearly contribute to economic marginalization or physical violence. The exclusion of such incidents should not be taken to suggest that these are not serious human rights violations that merit further investigation and reporting. Interviewees who were victims of human rights violations were reached with the support of domestic LGBT rights organizations in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, or with the support of immigration lawyers and organizations providing support services to asylum seekers and refugees in Mexico and the United States.
Spanish-speaking Human Rights Watch researchers conducted the interviews in Spanish. Most interviews were conducted one-on-one in a private space, while some were conducted in small groups of individuals who knew one another and expressed comfort in speaking together. No compensation was provided to interviewees. Human Rights Watch sought to interview people from across the LGBT spectrum, but the majority of people we interviewed were either trans people or gay men. There are several possible reasons for this. First, we intentionally sought out cases of violence, and in many parts of the world, trans women and gay men may Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma at highest risk of being targeted by perpetrators of violence for violating gender norms.
Second, lesbian and bisexual women are often less connected to LGBT rights organizations. Queer women-led organizations receive little donor funding, women may feel alienated or excluded by male-led or dominated groups, and women may have more difficulty securing the independence from families that facilitates participation in LGBT organizing. The skewed nature of our interview pool should not suggest that lesbian and bisexual women in the Northern Triangle are not victims of violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
Human Rights Watch also interviewed 93 other people who had knowledge of human rights violations affecting LGBT people in the Northern Triangle or during the asylum-seeking process in the United States, including government officials, United Nations officials, human rights activists, journalists and lawyers.
Human Rights Watch issued information requests to the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in Julyasking for available data on the of cases of violence against LGBT people that had been reported to police, the prosecuted, and the resulting in convictions, and again in Septemberasking for further information on efforts to combat violence and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
All three governments responded, and the country sections of this report provide further discussion of the information provided. The responses are also included in annexes to this report. During the drafting of this report, Human Rights Watch further engaged via with government representatives, who provided feedback on specific cases. Human Rights Watch did not conduct in-depth research in Mexico and therefore did not include recommendations to the Mexican government in this report.
However, many LGBT interviewees reported on violations that took place in Mexico, either en route to the United States or in cases in which LGBT people from the Northern Triangle briefly sought refuge in Mexico, either formally applying for asylum or living in Mexico without documents, before returning to their countries of origin.
The most dominant gangs are Mara Salvatrucha 13, also known as MS, and the 18th Street Gang, also known as Barrio 18, which currently operates as two separate factions. Gang violence presents a danger for residents of Northern Triangle countries from all walks of life but has a particularly strong impact on people living in low-income neighborhoods, many of which are effectively controlled by gangs. Violence in the Northern Triangle takes place along an economic axis.
This holds true for gang violence but also for police violence: Human Rights Watch interviews suggest some police believe they can abuse or fail to attend to the needs of people living in poverty or who are otherwise marginalized without consequences. LGBT people in the Northern Triangle straddle various economic strata, but some, especially those who are trans and gender non-conforming, are pushed into the social and economic margins by Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma lifetime of discrimination.
This systemic marginalization often begins with rejection and abuse by families: as documented in the following chapters, LGBT people from all three countries told Human Rights Watch of parents and other family members physically assaulting them and expelling them from their homes.
Education and employment discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity contribute further to economic marginalization, ultimately leaving many LGBT people without stable livelihoods and few housing options outside of poor and often gang-controlled neighborhoods. None of the governments in the Northern Triangle have criminalized same-sex conduct since the 19th century, but measures to protect LGBT people from discrimination are insufficient. As discussed further in the following chapters, Honduras outlaws employment discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity via its penal code, but activists in Honduras told Human Rights Watch they were not aware of any cases in which the law had been enforced.
While the use of the criminal law is warranted when discrimination manifests itself in particular egregious forms—notably, acts of violence or incitement to violence—its focus on criminal intent, which needs to be established beyond a reasonable doubt, is inadequate to capture and sanction much discriminatory behavior. When it comes to protection against crime, the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have failed to curb gang violence against the population in general, but LGBT people may face an additional barrier to protection: in all three countries, LGBT people reported stigma and discrimination from police officers when they attempted to report crimes, deterring some LGBT crime victims from reporting at all, as discussed in Sections II to IV of this report.
Both Honduras and El Salvador have passed hate crimes legislation in the last 10 years, augmenting criminal penalties for some crimes that are motivated by anti-LGBT animus. While these are in principle important legal deterrents, neither country has convicted anyone on hate crimes charges. All three countries have procedures in place intended to collect data on anti-LGBT crimes, but in practice only collect such data inconsistently. Their responses are included as annexes to this report.
Transgender people in the Northern Triangle are made particularly vulnerable by the lack of legislation Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma for an administrative procedure to modify the sex marker on their official identification documents. A November advisory opinion issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights IACtHR stated that in order to uphold the rights to privacy, nondiscrimination, and freedom of expression—as member states, including the Northern Triangle countries, are obligated to do under the American Convention on Human Rights—states should Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma simple, efficient procedures that allow people to change their names and gender markers on official documents through a process of self-declaration, without invasive and pathologizing requirements, such as medical or psychiatric evaluation or divorce.
To date, none of the Northern Triangle countries have done so, in contrast to several other Latin American countries. Between January and Novemberat least 4, people sought asylum in the United States based on claims of persecution related to gender identity or sexual orientation, according to data NBC News obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Undoubtedly, for decades, individual LGBT people from the Northern Triangle have fled their countries for reasons related in part to discrimination and violence based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
However, LGBT asylum seekers around the world were largely invisible in the international arena beforewhen the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR issued its first guidance on refugee claims related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Trump has paid lip service to some rights and denigrated others, eroding, in particular, the rights of transgender people. On March 20,in response to the Covid pandemic, the Centers Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma Disease Control and Prevention CDC issued a public health rider authorizing US Customs and Border Protection CBP to summarily expel unauthorized migrants, including asylum seekers and children, without considering whether they are eligible for protection under US law.
It utilizes a medical quarantine rationale to countermand protections in US immigration law for refugees and short circuits the right of asylum seekers for an opportunity to lodge claims or have them examined. Even before the United States shut down the border altogether as part of its response to Covid, an array of obstacles hindered access to asylum. They are discussed briefly here, with further detail provided in Section V of this report. Even before the US shut down the border altogether as part of its response to Covid, metering forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexican border cities for as many as six months before they even underwent the first step in the US of the asylum procedure, a credible fear interview.
The expedited process creates conditions by which traumatized individuals may feel discouraged to speak openly about the persecution that they have fled. The Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement ACAan agreement between the US and Guatemalan governments in Julyenables the United States to rapidly expel non-Guatemalan asylum seekers to Guatemala without allowing them to lodge asylum claims in the United States, but also leaves them without access to effective protection in Guatemala.
The risk of harm to asylum seekers returned to Guatemala is so severe that Human Rights Watch and Refugees International issued a t report in May calling on both governments to rescind the policy in its entirety. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security even sought to institute a strict prohibition on asylum in the United States for any asylum seeker who passes through any other country on the way to the United States, known as the Third-Country Asylum Rule. A federal court struck down the rule on June 30, on procedural grounds. LGBT asylum seekers who do get past these obstacles and are able to apply for asylum within the borders of the United States continue to be subjected to human rights violations.
ICE officials often detain trans women with men. In January45 members of Congress called on ICE to release all transgender migrants and asylum seekers from detention, arguing that ICE could not guarantee their health and safety.
I could no longer endure this situation. I was suffering at the hands of my neighbors, gangs, my family, and the authorities of my country. InEl Salvador had the highest murder rate in the world. At the same time, Salvadoran security forces have themselves committed extrajudicial executions, sexual assaults, enforced disappearances, and torture. Impunity is widespread. An estimated 38 percent of Salvadorans live in poverty, and about 8 percent in extreme poverty. When it comes to its laws and official policies, El Salvador stands ahead of most Central American nations in recognizing the rights of LGBT people, but its legal and policy environment is still lacking in protections.
The ruling does not reference gender identity, although its findings—including that the grounds referred to in article 3 of the constitution are illustrative and not limiting—could be equally applicable to gender identity. Non-criminal anti-discrimination provisions include Executive Decree 56 ofwhich states that any executive branch policies, activities, actions, omissions that result in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity are prohibited, and that all policies need to be reviewed for compliance with the decree.
There is no comprehensive civil law prohibiting discrimination by public and private actors. This seemed to motivate government institutions: several vaunted the scores they received in their first evaluation in public statements. LGBT activists criticized the move, protesting that few of their grave concerns regarding safety and discrimination could be adequately addressed under the ambit of culture.
InEl Salvador passed a landmark hate crimes bill that increased sentences for homicides and threats based on gender identity and expression and sexual orientation, as well as race, ethnicity, religion, gender and political affiliation, although the statute does not extend to other crimes, such as assault and rape. While some branches of government have attempted to address anti-LGBT violence and discrimination, they have not taken one of the steps that could reduce such violations: passing a law that allows transgender people to change their name and gender identity on official documents through a simple, administrative process.
For instance, when Maria I. El Salvador has legislated attempts to address violence against women, although they have had limited success in stemming violence.
InEl Salvador established specialized courts for violence against women in San Salvador.Ladies seeking sex Spencer Oklahoma
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