The Honduran legislature today voted to change their country’s constitution to make it nearly impossible to reform previous bans on marriage equality and abortion rights for women. In the past, a two-thirds vote of the nation’s legislators was required to reform the constitution, but the new decree would increase that requirement to a three-quarters vote. At this point, only a veto from President Juan Orlando Hernández can stop the changes from becoming law.
“It is worrying that Congress has passed this law, which represents an attempt to block the constitutional advances that we have seen in much of the Latin American region in sexual and reproductive rights and same-sex marriage,” Cristian González Cabrera, Americas lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, explains to Out in an email. “Honduras’s draconian laws already prohibit abortion and marriage equality so the reform attempts to prohibit future lawmakers from reconsidering the issue.”
The Honduran constitution was amended in 2005 to ban marriage equality and limit marriage to a biological male and female. Additionally, the country does not recognize the legitimacy of same-sex couples married in other countries. The country also bans adoptions by same-sex couples. Today’s changes make it virtually impossible to reform these and other discriminatory laws.
“By seeking to permanently and comprehensively block any possibility of accessing marriage for same-sex couples, the Honduran Congress is entrenching state-sponsored homophobia,” says Cabrera.
He pointed out the original 2005 amendment is a violation of international law. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a landmark ruling in 2017 that found all rights applicable to heterosexual couples must be extended to same-sex couples as well. Honduras is a party to the court, but has consistently chosen to ignore the court’s finding and applicable international law.
For now, Christian and LGBTQ+ activists have rested their dwindling hopes with the president’s veto pen though there have been protests and demonstrations.
“President Hernández should veto the law to protect girls, women, and LGBT people, and so that Honduras does not lag behind its neighbors on human rights,” Cabrera says.