Nicaragua: Sodomy Laws Repealed

Victory
April 20, 2009

Nicaragua: Sodomy Laws Repealed

On June 11, 1992 the Nicaraguan National Assembly approved a number of amendments to the Penal Code regarding sexual offences. Article 204 of the Penal Code, in its amended version, established the crime of "sodomy". In November 1992 a coalition known as the Campaign for Sexuality without Prejudices, comprising, amongst others, lawyers and lesbian and gay activists, presented an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice, challenging the law as unconstitutional. The appeal presented detailed arguments stating that Article 204 of the revised Penal Code violated 12 articles of the Nicaraguan constitution, including the right to privacy, to freedom of expression and to non-discrimination before the law. It also argued that by violating these rights, Article 204 contravened international human rights standards. In March 1994, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, concluding that Article 204 did not violate any of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Later, reports in the media and from human rights activists in Nicaragua indicate that President Enrique Bolanos had allegedly ordered that a list of all members of his government "suspected" of being part of the "gay-lesbian world" be compiled so he could dismiss them before leaving office in January 2007 following the November 2006 election. Such high-level homophobia concerns Amnesty International as it gives official sanction to acts of violence committed against LGBT people. In September 2007, a movement initiated by Amnesty International Mexico, culminated in protests against the country's sodomy laws taking place outside Nicaraguan embassies and consulates in over 10 countries worldwide, including Mexico, Chile, Germany, Canada, and Iceland. A new Penal Code repealing Article 204 came into force on 1 March 2008.