General News

Report finds El Salvador unsafe for LGBTQ+ people

Rachel Badham January 11, 2021

A new report from the Human Rights Watch (HRW), a non-governmental organisation advocating for equality, found El Salvador, Central America, lacks fundamental protections for LGBTQ+ citizens and asylum seekers. The report found the country’s own government acknowledged that LGBTQ+ citizens face “torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, excessive use of force, illegal and arbitrary arrests and other forms of abuse, much of it committed by public security agents.” President Nayib Bukele also opposes marriage equality and refused to support legal gender recognition for trans people. Bukele’s actions, combined with widespread violence and discrimination has caused many LGBTQ+ citizens to flee the country.

Anti-LGBTQ+ president Nayib Bukele

The report found that between January 2007 and November 2017, over 1,200 Salvadorans sought asylum in the US due to fear of persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The two countries currently maintain an ‘Asylum Cooperative Agreement’, which allows US immigration authorities to transfer non-Salvadoran asylum seekers to El Salvador, instead of allowing them to seek asylum in the US. However, the HRW dubbed this a “deeply flawed deal” on the basis it “presupposes El Salvador can provide a full and fair asylum procedure and protect refugees”, when it does not protect LGBTQ+ citizens. 

A Pride parade in El Salvador

The HRW urged the El Salvador’s government to address the issue: “The Salvadoran government should back a gender identity law and comprehensive civil non-discrimination legislation, prosecute anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, and reestablish a well-resourced office to promote inclusion and eradicate anti-LGBTQ+ violence.” It also argued the Asylum Cooperative Agreement should be axed, saying: “El Salvador fails to provide effective protection to its own LGBTQ+ citizens, let alone LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution elsewhere.”