Blue = Very Good Light Orange=Bad Dark Orange = Life in Prison Red=Death
Williams Institute QUICK FACTS
Sodomy Laws. Thirteen states still had sodomy laws when the U.S. Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2003. By that time, most countries in Central and South America already had repealed theirs. With Nicaragua and Panama overturning their laws during last two years, there's not a single Spanish-speaking country left in Central or South America with such a law.
Employment Discrimination. Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela all have national laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The new constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. If the U.S. Congress takes up ENDA this year, it will be joining Brazil and Chile in considering anti-discrimination legislation.
Couples Rights. In January 2008, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to recognize same sex couples nationally. In the fall of 2008, Ecuador's new constitution made civil unions a constitutional right; and last month the Constitutional Court of Colombia extended all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples. In addition, a number of cities and states in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil also legally recognize gay and lesbian couples.
National Initiatives. The governments of Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil have developed government-sponsored public education programs to fight homophobia, and last year, the Brazilian government hosted a historic national conference on LGBT rights.
International Leadership. Last December when then United Nations General Assembly affirmed that international human rights protections include sexual orientation gender identity, the statement was read to the Assembly by Argentina, and 12 of the 66 countries that signed on were Latin American. In June of 2008, the 34 members of the Organization of American States unanimously approved a similar declaration.
But Challenges Remain. The rights of LGBT people vary in Latin America, as in the rest of the world, with Central America and the Caribbean lagging behind South America and Mexico. In addition, the laws on the books don't always match social acceptance, especially outside of urban areas. In particular, transgender people continue to face high levels of violence and discrimination and even when the rights of same-sex couples are recognized, they often exclude parenting rights.
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