Victory Institute and its partners SOMOS CDC, Caribe Afirmativo, and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) organized two consecutive workshops for LGBTI candidates this week in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, ahead of the November elections. The goal is to reinforce their communications skills and safety measures knowledge, due to increased safety concerns about the well-being of LGBTI candidates.
A total of 11 participants took part in the training, four of whom are out as LGBTI in their campaigns. Of those 11, seven are current candidates, two were candidates in the primaries, and two were allies and alternate candidates. From Tuesday to Wednesday, candidates took part in a political communications training, which builds upon some of the past trainings Victory Institute has held in Honduras.
The training comes at a timely moment when candidates’ campaigns are in full swing and voter contact will play a key role in winning votes come the November 26th elections. During the training, candidates learned how to tackle difficult, and sometimes aggressive, questions from the media, as well as how to best utilize different forms of media. Candidates also took professional photos and shot spotlight videos they can use for their campaigns.
From Wednesday to Thursday, candidates participated in a personal safety and self-protection training. This workshop is highly important for candidates, especially following the attempted murder of candidate David Valle. LGBTI persons face particularly high rates of discrimination and violence in the country, and because their campaigns give them increased public visibility, they are at an even higher risk of violence. This training imparted skills and strategies such as proactive measures, self-awareness, self-defense, and cyber security that are specific to the threats faced by LGBTI political candidates.
These trainings are part of our Vote for Equality Campaign, a voter education and advocacy tool that aims to ensure that LGBTI citizens are informed about what different parties and candidates have to offer to the LGBTI population. The campaign is based on research conducted by Victory Institute and its partners in early 2017. The campaign, which will be launched at the end of the month, will provide information about the LGBTI candidates who agreed to be publicized in the campaign. Currently, there are four candidates who are running openly as LGBTI persons, and SOMOS CDC and Victory Institute are coaching some others on how to maneuver their campaigns and weigh the pros and cons of running as an out candidate.
If any openly LGBTI candidates win, they will be the first openly LGBTI elected officials in the country, which will be a monumental step forward in terms of equality of LGBTI persons in the country.