According to Amnesty International, 32 LGBTQI+ people were murdered in Guatemala last year as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In this context of violence, politics has an important part to play. Politicians have the power to enact inclusive and protective laws for LGBTQI+ people. They can raise awareness of identity and gender; they can invest in education; and they can run campaigns to tackle discriminatory culture within society.
What’s more, politicians can also work on that same discriminatory culture within politics itself, breaking down internal barriers and opening up political spaces so that LGBTQI+ people can enter politics, stand up and make their voices heard.
The political participation of minority groups is an important way to deliver change. In fact, even having a small number of LGBTQI+ people in national legislatures has been associated significantly with the future passage of enhanced rights for LGBTQI+ groups. Their presence on the political stage can a transformative effect, not only on legislation, but also on eroding the homophobic and transphobic culture within political structures themselves.
That opens the door for more people to enter politics and make their voices heard too.
Our work in Guatemala
At NIMD, we believe an inclusive democracy is one where all citizens feel represented and heard. And one where politicians take up their mandate to protect all groups in their society, and ensure their safety.
That’s why we’re working in Guatemala to open up the space for LGBTQI+ voices to be heard. We do this in different ways. We work directly with LGBTQI+ groups, to empower them to influence politics.
And we raise awareness through our Democracy School for future politicians. Through our modules on diversity, identity, gender and inclusion, we hope to empower the next generation of political and civic leaders to work for a more inclusive and safer society.
Brandon Saucedo describes how NIMD supports his organization,
Trabajando Unidos, through training and technical support.
Working with LGBTQI+ civil society organizations
Our work with LGBTQI+ groups focuses on supporting them to develop their strength, knowledge and networks so that they can effectively raise awareness of LGBTQI+ rights, and advocate for those rights within politics and civil society.
We do this by working intensively with each group, providing training workshops, small targeted funding for specific projects (mini-grants), technical or structural assistance, leadership training and networking opportunities.
It’s about amplifying their voices, but also giving them the chance to meet with the right people, influence policy-makers contribute to changing the culture within politics.
For example, we have been working with Visibles, a group committed to equity for LGBTQI+ people, for a number of years. We supported them to create and roll out an audiovisual campaign to teach the general public about discrimination and human rights violations.
Visibles strive to reach the general population through their audiovisual campaign.
We’ve connected Visibles with other civil society groups so they can coordinate their actions and increase their networking. And we have created opportunities for them to lobby the right people. In 2019, for example, we supported working sessions with civil society and the public sector. By uncovering the violence faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in the justice sector, Visibles generated an interest among public sector employees in meeting the needs of the LGBTQI+ population.
Promoting inclusion through our Democracy School
In our Democracy School in Guatemala, we work with young and aspiring politicians and civil leaders. We provide training in democratic values, as well as practical skills such as public speaking and campaigning. Our school also unites participants from different backgrounds and political ideologies. They work together and start to build trust, becoming an important force for working together across party lines in the future.
In 2020 and 2021, NIMD’s Democracy School in Guatemala ran a course called “Understand to Transform”. As part of this, 278 young people learned about power and oppression, especially relating to gender and identity.
Another course in 2022, focused on the realities faced by the LGBTQI+ population. Here, the participants reflected critically on intersectionality of oppression, political consciousness, and the importance of political participation among LGBTQI+ people.
Luis Pablo Dionicio describes his experience of the NIMD course on
Diverse Identities and Political Consciousness.
Through these courses, NIMD hopes to provide information and promote values that these people can take with them into their political careers. By opening up perspectives, and providing an understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQI+ people in Guatemala, we would like to create a young network of empowered LGBTQI+ people and allies who, through the Schools, also have the skills and knowledge to thrive in their political careers.
As future leaders, they have the power to shape the culture and discourse in years to come, making politics and ultimately society a better place for LGBTQI+ people.