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Salvadoran LGBTI community fears setback if right wins power

Activist Bianka Rodriguez, seen during an interview with EFE on Dec. 21, 2018, says that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in El Salvador fears their cause will suffer a setback if the right wins the 2019 presidential elections. EFE-EPA/Rodrigo Sura

Activist Bianka Rodriguez, seen during an interview with EFE on Dec. 21, 2018, says that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in El Salvador fears their cause will suffer a setback if the right wins the 2019 presidential elections. EFE-EPA/Rodrigo Sura

EFE

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in El Salvador fears their cause will suffer a setback if the right wins the 2019 presidential elections, activist Bianka Rodriguez told EFE.

Rodriguez, executive director of the transgender group COMCAVIS-TRANS, said that the presidency, currently held by former guerrilla commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren, is the only branch of government that really tries to guarantee their rights.

“Resistance still exists in the legislature and judiciary toward acknowledging the constitutional rights of LGBTI individuals,” she said, pointing to the influence of “rightist lawmakers and judges professing a certain religious fundamentalism.”

Despite this “resistance,” Rodriguez did not hesitate to say that in the Central American country “progress does exist” in respecting and guaranteeing their rights.

As one example of progress he noted the launch of a Justice Ministry policy of serving the LGBTI population.

He said that this policy has permitted sensitivity training for police officers, often blamed as one of the groups most responsible for hate crimes against LGBTI citizens.

In an interview with EFE in April 2016, the then-director of COMCAVIS-TRANS, Karla Avelar, said that cops and gang-members were the “principal murderers” of LGBTI community members.

Avelar sought refuge in Ireland after street gangs threatened to kill him in October 2017.

For Rodriguez, the progress made to date will be “endangered” if the right, represented by candidates of the Arena and Gana coalitions, wins the February 2019 elections.

“If the right wins, the challenge for the next year will be to preserve the progress already made,” the transgender activist said.

A survey by the Jesuit Central American University (UCA) found that 44.1 percent of voter preference goes to Gana, whose candidate is former capital Mayor Nayib Bukele.

Elected mayor on the ticket of the center-left FMLN, Bukele was expelled from the party for verbally abusing a female municipal official, though he insists he left of his own volition.

The poll places Arena, led by retail magnate Carlos Calleja, in second place with 19.7 percent of voter preference.

The FMLN, whose candidate is the former Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez, looks to come in third with 10.6 percent of the vote in the election next Feb. 3.


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