Guatemala Congress Shelves Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The passing of the law last week triggered protests by women's rights and LGBT groups
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Guatemala’s Congress has shelved a law which would have prohibited same-sex marriage and raised the prison sentences for women seeking abortion.

It had been approved by an overwhelming majority of lawmakers just last week.

The U-turn came after Guatemala’s President, Alejandro Giammattei, threatened to veto the law.

President Giammattei said it violated Guatemala’s constitution and the international agreements it is a signatory to.

Abortion is banned in Guatemala except in cases where the woman’s life is at risk.

The new law would have more than tripled the jail time for women seeking one outside of that limited scope.

It would also have reformed Guatemala’s civil code to “expressly prohibit same-sex marriages”.

Schools would have been banned from teaching pupils that “anything other than heterosexuality is normal”.

One of the main backers of the law, Congresswoman Patricia Sandoval, argued that “under the concept of family, we understand the union between a man and a woman” and that that concept needed to be protected.

But the law caused outrage among rights groups after it was passed on 8 March, International Women’s Day, with more than 100 votes in favour and just eight against.

Rights activist Alma Chacón described it as a throwback to the Middle Ages.

Ms Chacón welcomed Congress’s U-turn, but warned fellow activists “not to let our guard down” as she feared the conservative-dominated Congress would continue pushing for similar policies.

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