Latin America

In Latin America and the Caribbean, we work with local partners to respond when there are human rights crises; we conduct research and document human rights abuses; we provide training to help build the capacity of local activists to pursue structural and institutional change. Overall, we work to combat negative stereotypes and prejudice and to prevent discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

Human rights protections for LGBTIQ people have undergone fundamental and positive transformations in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years. We have witnessed the legalization of same-sex marriage in several countries; the inclusion of sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected categories in some domestic anti-discrimination laws; the passing of a landmark law on gender identity in Argentina; the issuing of a presidential decree in Colombia concerning gender assignment on official identification documents; the first-ever decision from the Inter-American Human Rights Court affirming child custody rights by a lesbian, and the appointment of a special rapporteur for LGBTIQ people at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

These hard-won advances have also produced a backlash and political pressures from conservative groups to restrict rights. Negative stereotypes have been reinforced in cultural settings, which has ignited violence and discrimination.

To address these challenges, we work to:

  • Respond when serious human rights violations affect LGBTIQ people by issuing action alerts and in some cases, by providing emergency security assistance to human rights defenders at risk.
  • Conduct research and document human rights abuses, including reports exposing rights violations in Chile, Colombia and Guatemala, among others. In partnership with local civil society, we have exposed negative stereotyping perpetuated through the media and documented advances and obstacles to the recognition and enjoyment of transgender rights in Chile, Colombia, and Costa Rica.
  • Pursue structural and institutional change by engaging in national, regional and international advocacy to challenge discriminatory laws, attitudes and perceptions. For instance, we have worked with the National Prosecutor’s Office in Colombia to support structural changes in investigating violence based on prejudice against LGBTI individuals. We have supported partners in Chile working to advance a gender identity bill and protocols for trans children and youth.
  • Provide training, capacity building, and political space for strategizing. Our staff conducts human rights training sessions to strengthen the capacity of local groups and individual activists to carry out advocacy and documentation. We have conducted trainings on violence against lesbians and trans women in the Caribbean; on violence ignited by prejudice for prosecutors and judicial police in Colombia; on advocacy work at the Inter-American and UN systems in the region, and on safety and security for LGBTIQ young people.