Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 13:37 GMT

Honduras: Treatment of sexual minorities, including legislation, state protection and support services available to them

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 27 January 2012
Citation / Document Symbol HND103936.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Honduras: Treatment of sexual minorities, including legislation, state protection and support services available to them, 27 January 2012, HND103936.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f4357b02.html [accessed 17 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010, published by the United States Department of State, discrimination against sexual minorities is "widespread" in Honduras (U.S. 8 Apr. 2011, 37). According to an article published by Human Rights Watch, violence against the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, also known as LGTB, LGBTI, LGTBI, GLTTB] community in Honduras "accelerated in the turbulent months" following the coup on 28 June 2009 (16 Dec. 2009; OAS 3 June 2010).

Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate from the coordinator of the LGTB Rainbow Association (Asociación LGTB Arcoiris) of Honduras, located in Comayagüela, indicated that [translation] "the LGTB community in Honduras still arouses a lot of hostility," and particularly since 2008 and 2009, "a large number of its members have been killed" and the community has been the victim of the most [translation] "notorious" neglect by the government (Asociación LGTB Arcoiris 4 Dec. 2011). According to various sources published in 2011, between 31 and 40 members of the LGBT community have been killed since 2009 (ACAN-EFE 19 Jan. 2011; OAS 20 Jan. 2011; Agencia Europa Press 23 Feb. 2011; MDR 7 Mar. 2011; La Tribuna 15 July 2011). An article published by La Tribuna, a newspaper based in Tegucigalpa, notes that, from 2009 to 2011, there was an increase of at least 200 [translation] "violent deaths" in the LGTB community in Honduras (7 Feb. 2011).

Cited in an article published by CNN, the director of the Cat[t]rachas Network (Red Lésbica Catrachas), an umbrella organization for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender groups, stated that "abuse based on sexual orientation in the Central American country is widespread" (CNN 1 Feb. 2011). He added that "transsexuals are murdered on the street" and that "gay people are being brutally killed inside their homes" (ibid.). He also noted that the last five murders committed in Tegucigalpa were "extreme hate crimes" and that "[v]ictims have been raped, stabbed, shot at, and even strangled." (ibid.).

An article published by Human Rights Watch also reported that, between November 2010 and January 2011, six transgender women from Tegucigalpa, Comayagüela and San Pedro Sula fell victim to various forms of attack than ranged from "gunshots to setting the victims on fire" (31 Jan. 2011). Moreover, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that, in December 2010, two transvestites were burned alive (IGLHRC 10 Jan. 2011).

The coordinator of the LGTB Rainbow Association indicated that the LGTB community in Honduras is mainly characterized by the following factors: [translation] "impunity, social and government homophobia, lack of protection mechanisms, and murders of community members committed by hit men from the police force" (4 Dec. 2011). In an article published by Agencia Europa Press, a private news agency in Spain, a representative of the National Human Rights Commission (Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CONADEH) in Honduras is cited as saying that, since 2006, [translation] "‘more than 200 members of the LGTB community have been the victims of serious human rights violations'" and that those violations were committed by police officers, clients [in the sex industry], family members [of LGTB people] and unknown assailants (23 Feb. 2011).

An article published in La Tribuna indicates that the gay community in San Pedro Sula is [translation] "very worried," because its members are "the victims of a high crime rate, … police persecution and societal scorn" (7 Feb. 2011). According to an article from Revistazo.com, a Honduran electronic magazine published on SentidoG.com, a portal based in Argentina for the Latin American GLTTB community (SentidoG.com n.d.), gay and lesbian rights organizations said that family, school, the media and the church are [translation] "mainly responsible for fuelling the hatred [of sexual minorities] in the country" (Revistazo.com 18 Nov. 2010).

2. Impunity

Two sources reported the government's inaction in homicides affecting the LGTB population (Human Rights Watch 10 Sept. 2010; Asociación LGTB Arcoiris 4 Dec. 2011). The coordinator of the LGTB Rainbow Association said that a study conducted from 2005 to 2009 by the Association [and the Human Rights Promotion and Research Centre (Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, CIPRODEH)] showed that more than 171 [translation] "heinous crimes" were committed against the LGTB community during that period (ibid.). Of those 171 crimes, more than 50 percent were committed by controlling forces [the police and the army], but only two of those crimes were prosecuted (ibid.). He added that [translation] "justice was served" in only one of those cases (ibid.).

An article published by Human Rights Watch reported that, in September 2010, a police officer was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 10 to 13 years for his complicity in an attack on a transgender woman (Human Rights Watch 10 Sept. 2010). The same article said that "[i]t is the first conviction of a police officer in Honduras since 2003 for a crime against a transgender person, even though police abuse [against LGTB people] is common" (ibid.).

According to Country Reports, another police officer was sentenced in June 2009 to 39 months in prison and a fine of US$2,630 for, among other things, illegally detaining an LGBT activist in 2007 (U.S. 8 Apr. 2011, 39).

3. Legislation

According to Country Reports, "[t]here are no discriminatory laws based on sexual orientation" in Honduras (U.S. 8 Apr. 2011, 37). However, the Preliminary Report on the Investigation of Hate Crimes Against LGTB People in Honduras (Informe preliminar de la investigación sobre crímenes de odio contra las personas LGTB en Honduras), prepared by the LGTB Rainbow Association and CIPRODEH, indicates that, in Honduras, [translation] "there are no specific laws against hate crimes exists," and that these crimes "are considered common offences," as are threats, bodily harm, rape and murder (Asociación LGTB Arcoiris and CIPRODEH Nov. 2009, 11). This same report noted that Article 321 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes discrimination in general, [translation] "does not mention sexual orientation or gender identity" (ibid., 12). The report highlights the fact that this article of the code has never been used [translation] "to punish a heinous crime" against sexual minorities (ibid.).

During an interview conducted by Defenders Online (Defensores en línea), the general coordinator for the LGTB Rainbow Association points out that the Association has submitted [translation] "concrete proposals to the Honduran government to reform the Penal Code so that it would sanction and punish those who promote hatred and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity" (Defensores en línea 1 Dec. 2011). Moreover, the Association made a request to the Minister of Justice and Human Rights that [translation] "May 17 be declared National Day Against Homophobia, Lesbophobia and Transphobia" (ibid.). According to the Association's coordinator, none of those demands were accepted by the government, because the country was not willing to make changes in favour of the LGTBI community (ibid.; Asociación LGTB Arcoiris 4 Dec. 2011).

4. State Protection

In an article published by La Tribuna, the government announced in January 2011 that it had received confirmation that the United States Department of State would provide support in the investigation of [translation] "the violent deaths of journalists and members of the gay community" in Honduras (La Tribuna 27 Jan. 2011). The article indicated that the support would consist of sending qualified personnel, including an expert police investigator and a lawyer, to work in cooperation with the Attorney General, the judiciary, and the executive branch of the government (ibid.). The team's main task will be to [translation] "evaluate internal investigations carried out by the police, the Supreme Court and the Public Ministry" (ibid.).

In February 2011, the government announced the creation of a [translation] "task force" (Agencia Europa Press 23 Feb. 2011; La Tribuna 23 Feb. 2011) responsible for "investigating and solving crimes" committed against homosexuals, journalists, women and other groups (Agencia Europa Press 23 Feb. 2011). According to the article by Agencia Europa Press, the new task force would consist of 150 investigators and be managed by the Minister of Security, the Minister [of Justice and] Human Rights, representatives of the Public Ministry and the Supreme Court, and other government officials (23 Feb. 2011). According an article published by La Tribuna, the task force was named the Task Force on Crimes Against Vulnerable Groups (Unidad especial de delitos contra grupos vulnerables) (22 Feb. 2011). No additional information on the implementation of that task force or on the results obtained could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Another article published in La Tribuna in November 2011 indicated that a sexual diversity unit (Unidad de Diversidad Sexual), which reports to the National Directorate of Criminal Investigations (Dirección Nacional de Investigación [Criminal], DNIC), began operating on 7 November 2011 in San Pedro Sula (13 Nov. 2011). According to the article, the unit's main objective is to [translation] "solve crimes committed against lesbians, gays, transsexuals, bisexuals and transgender people" (ibid.). The article indicates that the unit opened an office in Tegucigalpa in August and was expected to extend its activities to other cities in the country (ibid.). No additional information on the implementation of that unit or on the results obtained could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

5. Support Services Available to Sexual Minorities

In other correspondence, the coordinator of the LGTB Rainbow Association said that the Association provides support, counselling and medical assistance to LGTB people (Asociación LGTB Arcoiris 26 Dec. 2011). The Association also serves as a meeting place where LGTB people and others can come together for various activities, such as study groups and training sessions on how to seek justice, on human rights, on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, or on the support available in making and following up on complaints regarding the various violations against LGTB people (ibid.).

He also indicated that seven non-governmental organizations are acting on behalf of gay men in Honduras and that these organizations work mainly to prevent an HIV epidemic in the country (ibid.). According to the coordinator, the activities of those organizations are limited by a lack of financial resources (ibid.). No additional information on the services offered by those organizations to sexual minorities in Honduras could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

ACAN-EFE. 19 January 2011. "EE.UU. preocupado por asesinatos de homosexuales en Honduras." (La Tribuna) [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

Agencia Europa Press. 23 February 2011. "Honduras creará un grupo especial para investigar los crímenes contra homosexuales, periodistas y mujeres." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

Asociación LGTB Arcoiris. 26 December 2011. Correspondence from the coordinator to the Research Directorate.

_____. 4 December 2011. Correspondence from the coordinator to the Research Directorate.

Asociación LGTB Arcoiris and Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH). November 2009. Informe preliminar de la investigación sobre crímenes de odio contra las personas LGTB en Honduras. Document sent to the Research Directorate by the coordinator of the Asociación LGTB Arcoiris.

Cable News Network (CNN). 1 February 2011. Rafael Romo. "Hate Crimes, Killings Rising, Say Honduras Activists." [Accessed 8 Dec. 2011]

Defensores en linea. 1 December 2011. "‘Gais, lesbianas y transexuales no contamos con mecanismos de protección mínimos.'" [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

Human Rights Watch. 31 January 2011. "Honduras: Investigate Murders of Transgender Women." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

_____. 10 September 2010. "Honduras: Police Officer Sentenced for Stabbing Transgender Sex Worker." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

_____. 16 December 2009. "Honduras: Investigate Murders of LGBT People." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). 10 January 2011. "Tres asesinatos en dos semanas: reclame por los homicidios de personas LGTBI en Honduras." Nov. 2011]

Movimiento de Diversidad Sexual en Resistencia (MDR). 7 March 2011. "Honduras: Pronunciamiento por violencia y crímenes de odio contra la comunidad LGBTTI." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

Organization of American States (OAS). 20 January 2011. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). "IACHR Deeply Concerned About Murders of Members of the Transgender Community in Honduras." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

_____. 3 June 2010. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). "Preliminary Observations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on its Visit to Honduras May 15 to 18, 2010." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

Revistazo.com. 18 November 2010. "Según informe: Policías son los principales agresores de la comunidad Lésbico-gay en Honduras." (SentidoG.com) [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

SentidoG.com. N.d. "Home." [Accessed 4 Jan. 2012]

La Tribuna [Tegucigalpa]. 13 November 2011. "Unidad especial investigará crímenes contra los ‘gays'." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

_____. 15 July 2011. "En 2010 ‘se casaron' once parejas gay." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

_____. 23 February 2011. "Unidad especial investigará muertes de ‘grupos vulnerables'." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

_____. 22 February 2011. "Honduras contará con Unidad Especial de Delitos contra grupos vulnerables." [Accessed 12 Jan. 2011]

_____. 7 February 2011. Olivia Palomo Velásquez. "Transexuales exigen un alto a la muerte violenta de los ‘gay'." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

_____. 27 January 2011. "Departamento de Estado investigará las muertes de periodistas y ‘gays'." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

United Nations. November 2010. Honduras. Informe de las organizaciones de sociedad civil sobre la situación de los derechos humanos. [Accessed 28 Nov. 2011]

United States. 8 April 2011. Department of State. "Honduras." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010. [Accessed 2 Dec. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; Diario Tiempo; European Country of Origin Information Network; Factiva; Freedom House; Human Rights First; International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex Association; El Libertador; Organización Panamericana de la Salud; Pink News; United Nations — UN Development Programme, Refworld.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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