Buddhism teaching

Guatemala bans gay marriage, teaches sexual diversity; increase the prison sentence for abortion

Guatemala’s Congress on Tuesday approved a law banning same-sex marriage and the teaching of sexual diversity in schools. The new law also increases the penalties for women who choose to have an abortion, increasing the prison term from 5 to 10 years to 25 years.

The law, which was proposed by the conservative Viva party, was unexpectedly passed by a large majority of lawmakers, including allies of incumbent President Alejandro Giammattei.

For three years, since 2018, the law has remained pending, and it still needs to be published in the official journal to become operational.

Previously, the penalty for abortion was five to ten years, except when the life of the mother is in danger. Under the provisions of the new law, this sentence has been increased to 25 years in prison.

Committing an abortion in Guatemala is considered a crime, except when it is necessary to save the woman’s life. Prior to 1973, it was illegal without exception. Congressional Executive Order 17-73 of September 1973 amended the Penal Code to allow an exception for abortions where the pregnant woman’s life is in mortal danger.

In addition to this, the law prohibits the education of children and young adults about sexual diversity and gender ideology and specifies that no orientation other than heterosexuality is “normal”.

The legislation, which was passed on International Women’s Day, drew strong criticism from social activists and politicians, who claimed it undermined the individual rights of those affected. Jordan Rodas, Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman, is preparing to challenge the law on human rights grounds.

“It violates human rights, it goes against international agreements ratified by Guatemala, it is a setback to freedoms,” Rodas said in an interview with reporters outside Congress.