Candidates in Honduras sign agreement to boost political participation of underrepresented groups

Ahead of the November elections in Honduras, Afrodescendants, indigenous people, women, youth, people with disabilities, human rights defenders, and LGBTI groups came together to present demands to political parties and state institutions — asking for a more inclusive and representative political process. During the two events organized by Victory Institute, SOMOS CDC, Caribe Afirmativo, National Democratic Institute (NDI), and NIMD in Tegucigalpa on September 26, and San Pedro Sula, on September 27, several candidates from the main political parties committed to implement those measures once they are elected.

Despite some improvements in political inclusivity, such as having four openly LGBTI candidates running for local council and Congress, LGBTI people and other underrepresented populations are still far from being fully able to participate in the democratic process and run for office. LGBTI political leaders are routinely targeted and suffer continuous violence. The two most recent examples are René Martínez, member of the National Party and likely candidate, who was murdered in June of 2016; and David Valle, a Democratic Union candidate for Congress in this coming election, who miraculously survived a violent assault in his home. Victory Institute and Honduran LGBTI organization SOMOS CDC have been working since 2015 to increase the number of LGBTI leaders participating in the democratic process.

As part of this collaboration, and with the support of NDI  and Caribe Afirmativo, the ‘Vote for Equality’ campaign was launched, an initiative aiming at encouraging LGBTI people to vote during the next elections. The campaign, which launched at the late September events, provides LGBTI people with an easy-to-digest analysis of the main Honduran political parties’ platforms regarding equality and non-discrimination for LGBTI people.

The call for inclusion and non-discrimination within the political process is shared by the LGBTI population of the country and other underrepresented and at-risk groups, such as women, Afrodescendants, indigenous, youth, people with disabilities, and human rights defenders. It is for that reason that representatives from these groups were invited by the organizations behind the ‘Vote for Equality’ campaign to join forces and draft a common document summarizing the measures that are needed to increase political participation for all of them. After a rich process of consultation, the document was presented during these two events, called ‘Every Vote Counts’, which invited political parties and state institutions to implement measures that would increase representation.

In a moving moment after a panel with representatives and candidates from the main political parties in Honduras, each candidate signed the ‘Each Vote Counts’ document, committing to implement those measures should they be elected. “This is an example of how united underrepresented groups in Honduras are building a better and more inclusive Honduras for everyone,” said David Valle, an openly LGBTI candidate in Honduras.

‘Every Vote Count’ event – Tegucigalpa, September 26th, 2017

Victory Institute and SOMOS CDC, in collaboration with Caribe Afirmativo and NDI, have trained several LGBTI leaders from Honduras and Central America to participate in the political process and run for office; held trainings and discussions with Honduran political parties to open spaces for participation of LGBTI people; published research on LGBTI political participation that provides useful information in understanding the political needs and desires of this population; and held several public events aimed at changing people’s hearts and minds regarding political participation of LGBTI people. Complementing this strategy, the second ‘Meeting of LGBTI Political Leadership in Latin American and the Caribbean’ conference was held in Tegucigalpa in October 2015 — the largest gathering of LGBTI political leaders and elected officials in the region. Together with our allies, Victory Institute is committed to support LGBTI leaders in Honduras and Central America in advancing towards equality using the tools that our democracies provide.