Guatemala’s First Gay Congressman Fears for His Life Amid Death Threats

"I’m bringing a human rights agenda to those who haven’t had a voice in the congress of the republic."

Guatemala’s first openly gay congressman is in fear for his life amid death threats, keeping him from walking the streets of Guatemala City where he lives with his partner.

Aldo Davila was elected two months ago and has yet to take his seat. That hasn’t prevented homophobic bigots from sending him hateful and threatening messages.

“People have written messages, ’You won’t get to Congress on January 14th, you will die before,'” Davila told Reuters.

Guatemala has some protections for the LGBTQ community, but they are limited, with same-sex marriage still not allowed in the country, and adoption limited to opposite-sex couples and single individuals. Davila said he feels like he is “seen like the enemy from within,” and that Guatemala is becoming more conservative due to growing religious influence.

Aldo Davila

Davila will represent the Winaq Movement, a progressive party, and is setting his sights on fighting harmful legislation like the Life and Family Protection bill, which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, both of whom would have to be assigned those genders “by birth.” In other words, a marriage would only be recognized when between a cis man and a cis woman.

The country’s conservative Congress has already voted in favor of the bill twice. It requires a third vote to be passed into law.

Davila said the “regressive” policy “violates the human rights of people of diversity.”

The newly elected politician, who is HIV positive and used to head up a group supporting others living with the condition, said he will also fight for proper health care, as well as for transgender people to be able to change their gender on legal documents.

According to UNAIDS, using statistics from 2016, Guatemala is facing an HIV/AIDS crisis. Among men who have sex with men, there was an HIV prevalence of 8%, and among the transgender community the prevalence was a staggering 22.2%. Only about a third of those living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy.

“I’m bringing a human rights agenda to those who haven’t had a voice in the congress of the republic,” he said. “This is a challenge that I decided to take on from the moment I accepted my candidacy.”

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