The challenges currently facing the LGBT and HIV positive community in El Salvador
The LGBT and HIV positive community in El Salvador currently faces a deep stigmatization. According to a 2006 report by the World Bank, in El Salvador:
81% of the population believe that employers have the right to request HIV tests as a requirement to employment;
65% of the population believe that children with HIV should be educated at separate institutions;
54% of the population believe that God has punished prostitutes and homosexuals with HIV/AIDS due to their lifestyles; and
51% of the population believe that people with HIV/AIDS should not be able to use public places.
Discriminatory practices: The LGBT and HIV positive community in El Salvador suffer:
harassment, discrimination and uneven access to treatment within the healthcare system; discrimination in gaining access to higher education and employment; and
discrimination during the course of employment.
The spread of HIV/AIDS: In El Salvador, vulnerable communities, such as transgender persons and men who have sex with men, still face epidemic levels of HIV/AIDS. The International AIDS Conference in Vienna in 2010 found that LGBT persons often have the poorest access to HIV medical care because of stigmatization and marginalization. The social stigma and discrimination faced by high risk groups remain a major challenge in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Global South.
Hate crimes and impunity: The LGBT community has suffered widespread violence. Recent research conducted by ALDES found evidence of over 100 murders of LGBT persons since 1998, for which no one has been brought to justice. Many other LGBT persons are regularly assaulted, battered, threatened and shunned, and many more hate crimes go unreported and unrecorded.
Lack of legal protection: There exist few legal protections for the LGBT community under Salvadoran law. Even though same sex relations are legal in El Salvador, El Salvador’s Constitution and criminal law does not expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Same sex marriage, civil union and adoption are not allowed. Laws against domestic violence do not apply to same-sex relationships. Sex work and other related acts are criminalised as an offence against public morals.
Those legal protections that do exist are weak and poorly enforced. Since 2009, El Salvador has seen:
the Ministry of Health issue Ministerial Decree 202 to eradicate discrimination based on sexual orientation in public health services;
the adoption of Presidential Decree 56 to eradicate all discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation in public administration; and
the creation of a Sexual Diversity Division under the Social Inclusion Secretary, with the aim of eradicating discrimination against the LGBT community, promoting inclusive public policies, guaranteeing equal treatment in the provision of services, and increasing awareness and sensitivity about the LGBT community.
However, due to lack of enforcement, the LGBT community is yet to appreciate the effects of these developments. Pervasive bias within the civil and criminal justice systems effectively precludes LGBT and HIV positive individuals from seeking redress and inducing the government to enforce their civil rights and provide them with protection.
The need for free legal services for the LGBT community and for national and international advocacy about LGBT human rights and sexual diversity in El Salvador is therefore immense.
ALDES welcomes your participation and support.
For more information about how you can help please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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