Honduran Civil Society Organization Fights for Equal Rights

Centro para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación LGBTI (Somos CDC) advocates for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people in Honduras. (Photo courtesy of Somos CDC).

In Honduras, record-setting violence and homicide rates disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, including residents of low-income neighborhoods, women, youth, minorities, and LGTBIQ+ persons. According to Honduran civil society organizations, over 400 LGBTIQ+ people have been killed since 2009. NED partner Centro para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación LGBTI (Center for LGBTI Development and Cooperation, or Somos CDC) is one organization calling for an end to violence and discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community and advocating for public policies that advance human rights for marginalized communities.

“In Honduras, there are organizations that fight every day for equal rights, and we are facing various threats while confronting a repressive system that violates human rights and where our authorities do little or nothing to meet the needs of people who belong to vulnerable groups, especially LGTBIQ+ people,” said Somos CDC Executive Director Alex Sorto. “Violence and discrimination against LGTBIQ+ people constitute human rights violations, and this phenomenon often translates into hate crimes, the most serious expression of violence against LGTBIQ+ people.”

Somos CDC was founded in 2007 with the mission of empowering the LGBTIQ+ community in Honduras and promoting youth leadership around social equality and the full range of sexual and gender identities and expressions. Somos CDC has trained over 100 LBGTIQ+ leaders to participate actively in public affairs and promote equal rights and non-violence towards LGBTIQ+ people and other marginalized groups, and develops education campaigns about the need for human rights protections for the LGBTIQ+ community.

Participants in the School of Political Leadership LGBTI in Central America. (Photo courtesy of Somos CDC).

“We are continuing to contribute to a cohesive social movement where vulnerable groups, especially LGTBIQ+ people, participate in public affairs in a proactive way to improve their quality of life,” Sorto said. “A strengthened rule of law respects and guarantees the human rights of all citizens.”

Somos CDC actively advocates for strengthening protections for LGBTIQ+ people in Honduras, and has drafted multiple proposals for laws and policies for the economic, social, political, and cultural inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people and other vulnerable groups. The organization has also produced statistical reports to provide evidence for human rights violations against LGBTIQ+ people in the country, presenting them to national and international human rights organizations. Somos CDC is also working to strengthen alliances with different institutions, including other civil society organizations, the media, and private companies.

In the midst of the high levels of violence against the LGBTIQ+ community in Honduras, Somos CDC has courageously advocated for anti-discrimination,” said Samuel Boehms, program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean at NED. “They lead a coalition of civil society groups and are developing policies to guarantee legal protections for all vulnerable populations in the country.”

During June 2022, Somos CDC worked with the Committee of Sexual Diversity of Honduras (CDSH) and the National Board of Access to Justice for LGTBI Population (MNAJ-LGTBI) to develop a series of activities to commemorate International LGTBIQ+ Pride Day. They coordinated with various civil society organizations, international and state institutions to raise Pride flags, and organized meetings, seminars, lectures, and cultural activities, as well as Pride marches at the national level.

Although working in Honduras’s current political situation is challenging, Sorto said Somos CDC has made progress in creating a consensus around the need for non-discrimination policies and laws. “To promote policies and laws for non-discrimination, it has been necessary to dialogue with different political and social actors from a pluralistic, non-partisan perspective that allows the generation of consensus and the recognition of discrimination as a scourge that affects everyone in one way or another, enabling violence and human rights violations.”

Learn More about NED’s Work in Latin America and the Caribbean.