Guatemala government bans same-sex marriage and triples abortion jail time

This anti-LGBTQ+, anti-feminist law was passed by the conservative-controlled Congress on International Women's Day.

Split screen: Guatemala flag against a blue sky (left), LGBTQ+ pride festival in Guatemala (right)
Image: Via Pixabay | Via Twitter @GayGuatemala

A law passed by the Guatemala Congress, Tuesday, March 8, bans same-sex marriage and imposes harsher penalties on women who have an abortion.

Specifically, women who “have induced their own abortion or given their consent to another person to carry it out” will now face ten years imprisonment, where previously they could already face up to a three-year sentence.

It also penalises those who induce abortion in a woman without her consent for up to 50 years of jail time. Currently, abortion is permissible in the Central American country only when it poses a risk to the life of the pregnant person.

As well as reforming the Civil Code to “expressly prohibit same-sex marriages” in Guatemala, the bill also prohibits sexual diversity/LGBTQ+ education, not dissimilar to the infamous Floridian ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill which was passed on the same day.

Approved on International Women’s Day 2022, this ‘Life and Family Protection Law’ in Guatemala will be made official when it is signed by President Alejandro Giammattei, although not all members of Congress are happy about it.

“Losing a pregnancy is devastating,” said Congresswoman Lucrecia Hernandez, “and this law automatically turns a woman into a suspect even as she mourns her loss. They are criminalising and penalising miscarriages and that is dangerous.”

“The human rights of significant parts of the population are being violated,” said Congressman Walter Felix, who also pointed out that the bill “incites hate” and is “absolutely discriminatory”.

“This law should really be called a law to imprison and kill women,” commented Congressman Samuel Perez. “It is one of the most brazen things they are doing in this Legislature, and on top of it all, they are doing it on Women’s Day.”

Human Rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas has condemned the bill as a “violation” of international conventions signed by Guatemala and promised to bring this to the Constitutional Court, which is the highest in the country.

“We are going to file an action of unconstitutionality so that this (law) has no effect,” he declared.

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