Social Inclusion Campaign - World Bank Uruguay
Social Inclusion Campaign – World Bank

Invisibility is a form of discrimination. “There are no official statistics or an official baseline,” says Yren Rotela, a trans woman and human rights defender in Paraguay, when she refers to the job opportunities that trans people have access to in the country. Although some countries have taken steps towards equality for sexual minorities, legal recognition and protection is still not a reality in the majority.

It is urgent to know the situation of the LGBTI community with regard to access to basic public services, social protection programs, inclusive education, the labor market, civil and political participation, and protection against hate crimes. A World Bank report This need is evidenced by studying the data obtained in 16 countries. Of this group, four are from Latin America and the Caribbean: Uruguay, Mexico, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

While sexual and gender minorities face acts of discrimination in all sectors and countries examined, some in Latin America and the Caribbean are better off in certain areas. For example, in relation to access to public services and social protection and in the indicator referring to the criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, the lack of data on protective and discriminatory legislation still prevents meaningful analysis in the countries themselves. It will be important to extend this analysis to a broader set of countries, such as Paraguay and others in the region, in order to understand the drivers of reforms and fully assess the impact of discrimination related to sexual orientation on economic outcomes.

Less education, fewer job opportunities

Sexual and gender minority students face everything from problems enrolling in school, to harassment and intimidation. The study indicates that, in most of the countries studied, schools do not offer inclusive sexuality education curricula and teachers lack adequate training against acts of discrimination.

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It should be noted that in the absence of inclusive education for LGBTI students, the resulting low levels of education lead to a reduction in their skills and chances of getting a job. This means that as adults they often face obstacles in accessing the labor market.

Even after getting a job, sexual and gender minorities often face discrimination and harassment from peers or managers, unequal pay and unequal benefits for their partners, as well as dismissal for their perceived or actual sexual orientation.

However, in the Latin American and Caribbean region, Uruguay has laws and regulations that explicitly mandate the revision of national textbooks and programs to eliminate discriminatory language in educational settings. For its part, Costa Rica is one of the countries that has made the most progress in prohibiting discrimination, bullying, cyberbullying and bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

“By not having education, preparation, training, this makes it difficult for you to get a job,” says Rotela, reflecting on the discrimination suffered by the transgender population in Paraguay.

Public services for all people

Of the Latin American countries studied, Mexico and Uruguay have the most advanced legal frameworks that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public services and allow civil society organizations to provide social services to the LGBTI community.

Health services are the most protected public services and most of the countries studied explicitly prohibit discrimination in this sector, followed by subsidized health insurance and social housing.

However, the existence of inclusive laws and regulations does not always guarantee that sexual and gender minorities are free from discrimination. In the case of Paraguay, Mirta Moragas, a lawyer, a specialist in human rights and gender, indicates “in constitutional terms we have a total prohibition of discrimination, but this does not have a specific application mechanism in general, nor in particular to protect LGTBI people. ”. Enforcement of these laws is crucial.

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The study offers numerous public policy recommendations designed to prevent and eliminate discriminatory practices in the six areas measured by it, among which the following stand out:

  1. Repeal laws, constitutional provisions, and regulations that criminalize people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual characteristics.
  2. Introduce effective legislation and legal protections to combat discrimination, bullying, cyberbullying, and bullying in educational settings and to create more inclusive education systems for students and teachers who belong to sexual and gender minorities.
  3. Modify existing laws or create more inclusive and protective legal frameworks in the workplace to explicitly protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.
  4. Establish a comprehensive legal framework that regulates non-discriminatory access to public services.
  5. Introduce legislation or amend existing laws or regulations to allow sexual and gender minority organizations to register and operate freely and ensure activists can advocate for equality for sexual and gender minorities.
  6. Enact or amend laws that specifically prohibit hate crimes against sexual and gender minorities.

“It is encouraging that some countries are showing legislative progress in this area, but equal opportunities for sexual and gender minorities are still far from being a reality. Therefore, we hope that in the near future we can continue to observe positive changes in this agenda and thus be able to count on more inclusive and less discriminatory societies”, indicates Christian De la Medina Soto, Legal Consultant of the World Bank and author of the report. Equal opportunities for sexual and gender minorities.

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