A religious organization declared this Wednesday Guatemala as “Capital Pro Vida de Iberoamérica”, one day after the ruling Congress toughened the penalties for abortion and closed the door to homosexual marriage.
“This is a day to celebrate that we have a country that learns, teaches and does everything possible to respect life from conception to natural death”said the conservative president Alexander Giammattei during a public religious ceremony together with the Christian group Ibero-American Congress for Life and Family, which meets in the capital.
SIGHT: On International Women’s Day, Guatemala criminalizes abortion
The declaration, for four years, is the first granted by that religious organization that has its headquarters in Mexico. It brings together groups against abortion and same-sex marriage.
Giammattei, in front of dozens of people in the central square of Guatemala City, pointed out that his country protects life from its conception by constitutional mandate and because “our faith commands it.”
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He stressed that “while bombs are being dropped in other countries, like Russia attacking Ukraine, we say here: yes to life.”
“Light to the Nations”
“Today we are witnesses of a prophecy, the prophecy is that Guatemala It would be a beacon of light to the nations. The action of Guatemala is an example for the world”, said Aarón Lara, president of the religious group.
“You need to be very brave to defend the right to life and make it clear that there is no human right to abortion,” Lara pointed out, indicating that Guatemala was chosen as the pro-life capital due to government policies.
The Guatemalan Congress, controlled by conservative ruling party members, approved on Tuesday night the “Law for the Protection of Life and the Family”, which raises the maximum prison sentence from three to 10 years for “the woman who causes her abortion or allow another person to cause it”.
It also punishes with prison of up to 50 years the person responsible for an “abortion or abortion maneuvers carried out without the consent of the woman” and that cause her death.
Near where the ceremony was held, a group of women lined up several black coffins in protest against government activity and the recently passed law.
“We are talking about a new inquisition in a social process in which women are going to have less and less of a voice. We are going back centuries”activist Ada Valenzuela of the Guatemalan Human Rights Defenders Network told AFP.
Giammattei also unveiled a monument in the National Palace and renamed it “Courtyard of Life” one of the areas of the historic building.
Risk of hate crimes
The approved norm also reformed the Civil Code to make it clear that “same-sex marriage is expressly prohibited” in Guatemala.
It also restricts educational centers from teaching about sexual diversity.
The deputies who promoted this law pointed out in the text that there are “minority groups in Guatemalan society” that propose “models of conduct and coexistence that are different from the natural order of marriage and familythose who represent a threat to the moral balance of our society and therefore a danger to peace”.
Opposition lawmakers warned that The rule, which must be promulgated by Giammattei, criminalizes women who may suffer a miscarriage and discriminates and stigmatizes the LGTBI community, a situation that increases the risk of hate crimes, they warned.
“The objective of the prevailing political project in Guatemala is clear: steal from Guatemalans while trying to distract them with absurd conspiracy theories, such as ‘gender ideology.’ The human cost is paid by everyone, especially women, LGBT and the most humble”, the researcher for the Americas of Human Rights Watch, Juan Pappier, wrote on Twitter.
The ombudsman of GuatemalaJordán Rodas, announced that he will challenge the law, considering it “unconstitutional” for violating human rights and international agreements signed by Guatemala.
“Women and LGBTIQ people are going to resist any attempt by the current government that intends to restrict our rights and freedoms. Our fight is to change the country so that justice and dignity are possible for all people,” said the non-governmental organization Visibles.
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