Rights of Vulnerable Communities: Women and Children; Indigenous, Garifuna, and Afro-Honduran Communities; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Comm

Last update: July 28, 2014

Women and Children

Violence against women and impunity for perpetrators is a serious problem. The National Observatory of Violence reported that femicides and violent deaths of women increased by 246 percent between 2005 and 2012, as compared with a 197 percent increase in overall homicides during the same period. In February 2013, the National Congress added the crime of femicide to the penal code. Rape is a serious and pervasive societal problem that permeates all facets of society. Domestic violence and child abuse are widespread.

A large population of children lives on the streets of Honduras. NGO shelters have reported providing care to juveniles that had been used for drug trafficking, homicides, and other crimes. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a serious problem. Although statistics are not available, authorities have noted particular concern about port cities along the north coast. For further information, see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.

The Public Ministry Office of the Special Prosecutor for Women and Office of the Special Prosecutor for Children handle crimes against women and children.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities

Honduran law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. In February 2013, the National Congress added sexual orientation and gender identity to classes protected from discrimination and included these same classes in the hate crimes amendment to the penal code.

Social discrimination against LGBT persons is widespread, and organizations representing the LGBT community have reported cases of harassment and break-ins. Representatives of NGOs focusing on sexual diversity rights have also asserted that police and others have harassed and abused their members.

Representatives of LGBT organizations work with the Public Ministry’s Violent Crimes Task Force, the Secretariat of State of Security, and the Public Ministry’s Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights to address problems of intimidation, fear of reprisal, and police corruption.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. Although enforcement in employment is the responsibility of the Secretariat of State of Labor and Social Security (STSS), enforcement is not effective due to the secretariat’s focus on workplace safety and pay problems. Enforcement of the laws in other areas is the responsibility of the Public Ministry. The law requires access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but few buildings are accessible, and the national government does not effectively implement laws or programs to provide access.

The government has a disabilities unit in the Secretariat of State of Social Development and a special commissioner for disabilities in the Secretariat of State for the Presidency. In July 2013, the Council of Ministers approved a public policy to eliminate discrimination against and provide increased opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Indigenous, Garifuna, and Afro-Honduran Communities

Indigenous, Garifuna, and Afro-Honduran communities have little representation in the national government of Honduras, and consequently have limited political power to make decisions affecting their lands, cultures, traditions, and the allocation of natural resources.

Most indigenous lands are owned communally, providing land-use rights to individual members of the ethnic community. Indigenous land titles often are poorly defined documents dating back to the mid-19th century. Lack of a clear title allows encroachment by, and expropriation conflicts with, landless nonindigenous field workers, businesses, and government entities interested in exploiting coastlines, forests, mining resources, and other lands traditionally occupied or utilized by indigenous and other ethnic minority communities. Indigenous communities have criticized the government’s alleged complicity in the exploitation of timber and other natural resources on these lands. Indigenous leaders also have alleged that indigenous and non-indigenous groups engage in drug-smuggling and other contraband trafficking and had illegally appropriated vast areas of their communal lands.

Persons from indigenous and Afro-descendant communities continue to experience discrimination with respect to employment and occupation, education, housing, and health services. UNICEF called the situation of indigenous and Afro-Honduran children precarious and vulnerable.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor for Indigenous Affairs in the Public Ministry investigates crimes and discrimination against indigenous persons. The Secretariat of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Affairs works to address issues affecting these communities.