Sexual and gender minorities rights in Latin America and the Caribbean: a multi-country evaluation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND:Although the extent of legal inequities experienced by sexual and gender minorities (SGM) has declined during recent decades, this population still enjoys fewer legal protections and benefits than the non-gender-variant, heterosexual population. Herein we analyze the current scenario of SGM rights in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). METHODS:Policy documents and governmental strategies addressing SGM rights were analyzed within a timeline framework by three major LAC sub-regions: the Caribbean, Mesoamerica and South America. RESULTS:Our search identified 88 eligible documents addressing the following categories: (1) legal protections towards same-sex couples (decriminalization of same-sex acts among consenting adults, legal recognition of same-sex unions, same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples), and (2) anti-discrimination laws (SGM allowed to serve openly in the military and anti-discrimination laws related to sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression). The majority of Caribbean countries prohibit same-sex acts between consenting adults, while in Mesoamerica same-sex couples do not have equal marriage rights and are not allowed to adopt as a couple. In the Caribbean and Mesoamerica transgender people lack proper legal protection. Legislation to protect SGM rights in South America is the most inclusive and progressive in LAC. Several countries recognize same-sex marriage and the right of transgender people to legally change their name and gender. The majority of South American countries have some kind of anti-discrimination law, but no effective mechanisms to enforce these laws. In spite of those progresses, the LAC region registers the highest rate of violence and hate crimes against SGM in the world. CONCLUSION:In the Caribbean and Mesoamerica the overall discriminatory legislation exacerbates violence against SGM within a social and cultural context of strong sexist, gender stereotypes and widespread violence. This scenario is driving hundreds of SGM to leave their home countries. In spite of progressive legislations, several South American countries are currently controlled either by highly conservative leaders (e.g. Brazil and Chile) or by repressive dictators (Venezuela). The near future of the LAC region is unknown, but if such trends continue, severe human rights problems, including setbacks in SGM legal protections, are likely.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Malta, M; Cardoso, R; Montenegro, L; de Jesus, JG; Seixas, M; Benevides, B; das Dores Silva, M; LeGrand, S; Whetten, K

Published Date

  • November 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 19 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 31 -

PubMed ID

  • 31694637

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6836409

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1472-698X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1472-698X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/s12914-019-0217-3


  • eng