Salvadoran PGA members successfully push reform to penal code increasing sanctions on hate crimes
Salvadoran PGA members successfully push reform to penal code increasing sanctions on hate crimes,
including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
The Hague/New York/San Salvador, September 9, 2015
With 75 votes out of a total of 84, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador approved a reform to the Penal Code increasing sanctions against murders (article 129) and threats (article 155) motivated by hate, including on the basis of race, ethnicity, political views, religion, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation or any other equivalent. The project of reform, introduced by Diputada Cristina Cornejo (FMLN) in the Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Affairs for its review, attained its members’ favorable decision earlier last week and was consequently presented for discussion at the Assembly’s plenary session on Thursday, September 3, 2015.
Diputado Mario Tenorio (GANA), Chair of the Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Affairs, a PGA member, and a speaker at PGA’s Seminar on Equality and Non-Discrimination for Latin American and Caribbean Parliamentarians held in San Salvador, El Salvador on November 3, 2014, noted that parliamentarians are obliged to establish mechanisms that guarantee and protect the human rights of all regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
The San Salvador Statement of Commitment, adopted during PGA’s Seminar last November, encouraged and called for an open dialogue among legislators, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) and LGBTI civil society, and legislative reform to incorporate non-discrimination legislation, a gender identity law, and the inclusion of hate crimes provisions in the Penal Code of the country.
“It was vital for us to loudly send a message stating that these crimes will be prosecuted and punished with all of law’s rigor. As parliamentarians we need to create laws that safeguard the rights of all individuals, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons, and ensure that their life, physical integrity, moral and freedoms are respected. PGA has an important task of sharing these experiences and lessons with other Parliaments around the world and I will continue actively supporting this key work on human rights in my country and abroad,” Dip. Tenorio said.
Excited to learn about this development, Diputada Berta Sanseverino from Uruguay and a PGA Board Member, mentioned that this reform provides a legal framework of support and acknowledgment to populations that are marginalized, especially the LGBTI community.
“This reform is a very significant step in advancing an open dialogue on rights of LGBTI people and is a commanding tool to guarantee equality and respect for all individuals. It also highlights that violence, in any instance, but especially, on the basis of these criteria, is strongly condemned. I am very pleased that PGA’s recent meetings with LGBTI representatives, and Salvadoran MPs, among them the Coordinators of the three largest political parties, FMLN, GANA, and ARENA to advocate towards the approval of this reform, had such a fantastic result. This opening brings parliamentarians closer to their constituents and their needs,” Dip. Sanseverino stated.
To become law, the reform still requires the signature of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén. A veto is unlikely as all Legislators from FMLN (the incumbent), GANA, and ARENA voted in favor.
“This is the beginning of all the other reforms that we have to achieve in this small country,” concluded Karla Avelar, Executive Director of Comcavis, a Salvadoran NGO advocating for LGBTI rights.
Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) is a non-governmental, non-partisan international network of approximately 1,200 legislators in 140 elected parliaments around the globe that informs and mobilizes parliamentarians to advocate for human rights and the rule of law, democracy, human security, non-discrimination and gender equality.
In 2013, PGA launched its SOGI Campaign to promote the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination and to sensitize parliamentarians on the obligations that States have to all individuals regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression under regional and international conventions to which their countries are party. Through actions and consultations on sexual orientation and gender identity, PGA has engaged more than 100 parliamentarians from the following countries: Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Peru, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.